"...without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb. 11:6). What makes faith real? We hear many people say, "I have faith," but do they? How do we know? James tells us that real faith is revealed by works. These are not works of man, but works of God. They are the evidence that the faith is real and has its source in God. When people say they have faith, often they mean that they hope everything will work out. But even the hope they speak of is unsure. In God, both hope and faith are sure. Our hope is a sure hope, authored by God, who will bring about the thing that is not yet accomplished. We have a hope that is sure in the heavens, and the children of God eagerly wait for the fulfillment of this hope. It will be fulfilled in God's time (Rom. 8:25).
Faith is truly faith when it is authored by the word of God. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). It makes no difference how impossible the situation may be. When God speaks, He is there to bring about what He has spoken, and nothing else matters. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). In other words, He creates the faith in a believing heart, and then He fulfills His word in the proper time.
We cannot produce faith; we look to God for faith. The foundation of that faith is hearing the word of God and recognizing it as such. This is what separates faith from wishful thinking. The world may talk about faith, but the only one who has faith is the child of God, because only God can bring it to pass, and without works faith is dead--it is not faith.
When we face a situation that is beyond us, our first place is to hear God. Suppose we do not know how to pray--then we should ask God how to pray. If we are to pray in faith, we cannot know in our natural senses how to pray. If we just pray, "Lord, please do this or that, or whatever your will is," it has very little meaning. It would be better to pray, "Lord, I don't know what You want to do. Please speak to me." Until He does, we should be quiet. Many who name the name of the Lord have brought dishonor upon His name by attributing things to the Lord and "their faith which they had all the time," when even a natural person can see it was void of reality.
What shall we do? We need to be determined in our hearts to hear the word of the Lord. Then we shall be able to move in faith, and this will have results and glorify the Lord. There will be a sureness in our hearts because we have heard God. It may take time for the fruit to be evident, but the timing is God's business. He knows best. Our place is to hear, and then to believe and act upon what we have heard.