is it as lively, vigorous, and active, as it was when you first believed?
Has it undergone no declension?
Is the Object of faith as glorious in your eye as he then was?
Are you not now looking at second causes in God’s dealings with you, instead of lifting your eye and fixing it on him alone?
What is your faith in prayer?
– do you come boldly to the throne of grace, asking, nothing doubting?
Do you take all your trials, your wants, your infirmities, to God!
What is your realization of eternal things, – is faith here in constant, holy exercise?
Are you living as a pilgrim and a sojourner, “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God,” than float along on the summer-sea of this world’s enjoyments?
What is the crucifying power of your faith?
– does it deaden you to sin, and wean you from the world, and constrain you to walk humbly with God and near to Jesus?
And when the Lord brings the cross, and says, “Bear this for me,” does your faith promptly and cheerfully acquiesce, “any cross, any suffering, any sacrifice for you, dear Lord?”
Thus may you try the nature and the degree of your faith; bring it to the touchstone of God’s truth, and ascertain what its character is, and how far it has suffered declension.
Permit us to adduce a few causes to which a feeble and declining faith may frequently be traced. When a believer’s visits to his closet grow less frequent and spiritual, faith will assuredly decline. Prayer is the channel that supplies faith with its nourishment and vigor. As well might we cut off all the rills and streams which flow down the mountain’s side, and expect that the valleys beneath will present their enameled and verdant aspect, as to close up the channel of prayer, and then look for a healthy, vigorous, and growing faith. There is a beautiful connection between faith and prayer, – their influence is reciprocal: constant and ardent prayer strengthens faith, and faith, brought into exercise, stimulates to prayer. A praying man will be a believing man, and a man of faith will be a man of prayer.
Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension