How to develop strong faith
Although faith in GOD is the greatest type of faith everyone should acquire, faith in one’s self is very important and necessary in many areas of life. And to those who think developing faith in one’s self is wrong, the best answer I’ll give is the one my greatest role model Jesus Christ gave after his—then—faithless disciples couldn’t heal a boy who was possessed by an unclean spirit; Mark 9:23 says: “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth”.
Good enough, faith is not a respecter of persons or religions; rather, it’s there for anybody and there for the taking. Faith is something that has to be cultivated and properly taken care of until (and even after) it matures and produces great works and wonders.
We can observe that despite the close relationship Jesus had with his disciples, they (only the disciples) were not able to cast out demons that possessed a boy whose father earlier brought him to the disciples; read Mark 9:18 which says: “… and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not”.
Definition of faith
Faith can be defined as complete trust or confidence in GOD, someone or something. It can also be defined as deep belief in religious doctrines based on inner spiritual conviction rather than physical proof. Faith is usually planted firmly in the heart, and is mostly strengthened on the basis of things that can’t be seen, rather than things that can be seen.
One of my best definitions of faith that supports the previous sentence, can be seen in Hebrews 11:6 of the Christian Bible which states: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. Contrary to this definition, we can easily observe that too many people need physical proof in order to strengthen their faith, and this is not the right way to develop faith.
Faith can either be positive or negative, and can shift between extremely positive and extremely negative limits. Each person has a certain amount of faith which can become more positive or negative, depending on how they cultivate it, especially when they face the ups and downs of life. Negative faith works against people, while positive faith works in favor of people, and each person will get results in life based on their faith, or what they deeply believe in: “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he”―Proverbs 23:7.
How strong faith can be developed
(1) By regularly cultivating quietude or stillness
One of the best foundations for developing faith and unfolding more of the subconscious mind power or spirit is stillness, or quietude which leads calmness or composure—the ability to be composed or relaxed regardless of the challenges and anxieties experienced in life. Our almighty creator says in Psalm 46: 10―“Be still, and know that I am God …”. The lesson in this scripture is that the onus of being still or calm is on us, and depends a lot on the best we can do to control our thinking so that our inner being will be still or calm to as great an extent as possible. One way to do this is to regularly practice quietude, composure or stillness, and seeing our challenges in a more relaxed or better perspective.
One illustration that can be practiced each day is to imagine you’re a great leader and your mind is a working place that has a lot of noisy thoughts as workers who are always obedient to your commands—even if at the moment it doesn’t appear so. (As one practices regularly, one would start to see the results when noisy thoughts become more and more controllable till they actually become quiet.) Now, whenever you’ve made up your mind to keep noisy thoughts under your control, tell these workers that work is over, and you want them to close work and keep quiet so that you can instill some sense of calm that would benefit the whole environment or mind in which they work.
When practicing this, positive results might not be seen early on, but if one consistently practices quieting their thoughts every now and then—if possible daily—especially in a quiet place, one would observe that they are gradually beginning to be more composed, able to control their thoughts more, and switch off the endless noisy thoughts that jump into their mind whenever they like. But the problem is that too many people have become so accustomed to concentrating on noisy distractible thoughts to such an extent that they have no time to cultivate qualities like quietude, stillness or composure which are strong foundations for faith in the subconscious mind or spirit.
People are too busy bothering about the next lottery, the next presidential election, the next big movie on TV, what they would like to wear the next day, etc.—and they bother to such a point that they have no time to concentrate on the things that really matter. Note that that every mundane daily activity is to some extent completely trivial because they won’t matter in a few days or years from now; but many years from now, it will matter to you how you cultivate stillness and quietude today.
No man or woman can successfully apply faith by harboring thoughts of worry or anxiety; yet every man and woman can use stillness, or quietude—which instills calmness—as a firm foundation for the development and stability of their faith.
It could be very harmful for those who desire to develop faith if they consistently worry and get involved in negative discussions that can make them cultivate negative faith instead of positive faith.
Why not practice for about 30 minutes every day. Practice sitting or lying down comfortably and peacefully—and remember you must stay in a way that wouldn’t make you feel discomfort on any part of your body. Let your mind become still. Remember: “Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46: 10) is one saying; another saying that’s relevant to this post is: “Be still and know that you have strong faith within”.
If you can practice making your mind free of thoughts, worries, anxieties and doubts, then you will observe that in a month’s time you’ll be more still, calm, poised, uplifted, and quite a different person. Some people are not conscious of noisy thoughts, but noisy thoughts do exist, and can negatively affect faith, emotional and mental well-being—if not properly controlled.
(2) By regularly feeding on positivity
Naturally, depending on our past experiences, background and present experiences, faith could become more positive or negative. That’s why it’s important for faith to be nourished and cultivated in much the same way as a habit. Faith must be pampered, fed and carefully looked after, when feeding on positivity or persistent positive thoughts.
Also, if we want to continue developing faith, we must always be positive and repeat or re-affirm what we believe in until we obtain faith; we must re-affirm what we believe in till our beliefs are driven into our sub-conscious minds or spirits which are the greater parts of us. The sub-conscious mind, which is shielded away from all the noise that usually occupies the conscious mind, is the greater part of us which can work with our faith to produce great results.
Keep on repeating what you believe until it becomes driven or implanted in your sub-conscious, and then you will have automatic faith. Faith is not belief. Faith is something which usually grows or diminishes with us. Many of us are Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, or Jews because our parents are/were Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, or Jews.
For many of us, we believe that what our parents believed was right, so our faith developed based on what our parents believed. But sometimes this type of faith diminishes when people get older and become exposed to other more convincing types of belief—one can see the difference between faith and belief in this illustration.
No matter how difficult things might appear to be, always tell yourself that you will overcome and achieve this or that—or that you firmly believe you will do this or that. You have to keep on re-affirming it or else you might not develop faith that could lead to greatness. Faith becomes automatic when we consistently believe in something in a positive way, again and again until it sinks into our subconscious minds.
In much the same vein, if you repeat prayers time after time, then there would come a time when you would sub-consciously start to believe in them until the day your wishes come true.
The main work lies in convincing your subconscious mind to understand and cooperate. And once you’ve implanted that belief-turned-into-faith in your subconscious mind, then you don’t have to bother anymore because your sub-conscious mind will always remind your consciousness/conscious mind that you have faith, and you can do those particular things.
Even though there are many things you don’t have sufficient faith to do today, it doesn’t mean it’s over for you for the rest of your life. Keep on telling yourself with positive words and mind pictures that you believe one day you are going to do this or that, or whatever it is you would like to do in future; then in time, you will do it/them.
All successful people, those who become exceptional researchers, millionaires and inventors are people who have faith in themselves; they have faith that they can do whatever they conceive in their minds. This is as a result of the fact that they believed in their abilities and powers first, then by consistently believing in themselves, they generated the faith which made their initial beliefs come true.
If you keep on telling yourself that you are going to succeed, you will succeed; however, you will only succeed if you keep on being positive and calm and re-affirming success, and not allow doubt or negativity step in. Always declare success, and the results that will come may surprise you.
Things that affect faith—and which we should take note of
When developing faith, there are things one should take note of:
- all of us have certain fears: some people are afraid of the dark, others are afraid of spiders or something, etc.
- some of us might either be aware or unaware of our fears: we have fears which are in our conscious minds, but our conscious minds are only about ten per cent of our whole minds, while the remaining ninety per cent of our minds are sub-conscious. Now, the problem is that the fear in most people is in their sub-conscious minds.
- sometimes we do things under unidentified compulsion, or we decide not to do things because of an unidentified compulsion: we don’t understand the reason why we are able to do certain things or why we are unable to do certain things. There is no reason on the surface: there is nothing that we can relate our decisions to. In fact, if we visit a psychologist, we might be surprised to find out that we have a certain fear, or are unable to do certain things because of something(s) that happened to us (coupled with other influences on our vulnerable belief systems) when we were younger.
- the reason for fear or inability to do certain things is usually hidden from our awareness or consciousness (conscious minds) and works against us or nags at us from our subconscious minds in which fear been implanted by virtue of always believing in fear and thinking about it over and over.
- negative faith or fear doesn’t have to be conscious to be active. It is most active and uncontrollable when it is subconscious.
- throughout our lifetimes, we have been subjected to certain experiences. A person from an Islamic background would have always believed in what they’ve been taught, or that certain things are forbidden; on the other hand, people of a different religion, with different belief systems, would have been permitted to do things not permitted in the Islamic religion.
In relation to the point highlighted above, when it comes to the issue of faith, we have to evaluate how we were brought up—our past experiences, religious and family backgrounds, etc. Everyone would agree that if we grew up with people who possessed superhuman abilities, we would likely have been influenced by them, and consistently believed in ourselves until we developed faith to display superhuman feats. The opposite would likely occur too, if we grew up with people who possessed subhuman powers, or no power at all.
Faith can topple an empire, and faith can build an empire as well. If you develop your faith by pampering it, guiding and controlling it, then it’s true that you can have almost anything. If you are yet to acquire faith, then you can’t obtain faith or make it work by dictating to it. It’s not possible to force faith to work because faith is like a horse: you can lead a horse to a stream to drink water but you can’t force it to drink—and so you can lead your faith by developing it gradually, but you cannot force it to appear suddenly. It needs to be developed, and it can be done.
How are you going to develop your faith? Well, it’s only a matter of practice. Think of a situation that makes you fear and then overcome it with faith by telling yourself each time that you can do it even if others can’t. Persuade yourself until you get your subconscious mind or spirit working on your side.
Remember that it might not happen in an hour, a day, a week or even years, but eventually it will happen: Rome was not built in a day, and doctors, professors or scientists are not made overnight. They had to consistently believe and study to succeed, and so have you. There is no other easy or painless way out!
Always practice stillness, quietude and calmness, and remember that all these petty challenges and problems that interrupt our thoughts whenever we are trying to think, work or do something, will not matter in a few years’ time. They are little irritations that should be relegated to their correct status as side distractions, and nothing more.
Stillness, quietude, peace, inner composure and tranquillity are there for you if you will take time to cultivate them. All you have to do is consistently refuse to take the issues of life seriously, and always believe in yourself. Be calm, and always remember that all these challenges are minor irritations and nothing more. They were sent by nature to test you, and they certainly do!
Practice calmness and look at your difficulties in a much better perspective. It may be annoying to find that you cannot do certain things today, but it is not of earth-shaking importance after all; rather it would be more earth-shaking if you start or continue developing your faith from today.