Confidence is an essential ingredient for prayer, as well as for Christian living. In my study of this topic, I found seven different Hebrew and Greek words that could be translated as confidence (Hebrew: mibtach, betach, and batach; Greek: peitho, tharreo, parrhesia, and elpidos). In these words, I found five basic meanings: confidence as security and safety, as assurance, as courage, as hope, and as trust. We will now take a look at these meanings from a few verses of scripture.
Confidence is security and safety. In Proverbs 14:26 it says, “In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence [mibtach], and His children will have a place of refuge.” Also in Proverbs 1:33 it says, “But whoever listens to Me will dwell safety [or confidently, betach] and will be secure, without fear of evil.”
Confidence is assurance. In Philippians 1:3-6, Paul, beginning his letter to the Philippians, writes, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…being confident [peitho] of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Here Paul is telling the Philippians that He is sure, and that they can be sure, that God will complete His good work in them. Accordingly, confidence for us is the assurance that God is doing His work in us and will complete that work.
Confidence is courage. There are two different Greek words, sometimes translated as confidence, that take the meaning of courage or boldness. One of these words is tharreo, found in Hebrews 13:6: “So we say with confidence [tharreo], ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (NIV) The other word, parrhesia, is most used when the Bible refers to prayer. In Hebrews 4:16 we read, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence [parrhesia], so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.” This word is used 31 times and is most often rendered as boldness or openness, but also carries the meaning of frankness, bluntness, assurance and courage. It is how we can approach God in prayer because of His blood shed for us.
Confidence is hope. The word elpido, which is most often translated as hope, has the definition of expectation or confidence. In Hebrews 10:23 it says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope [elpido] without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Thus, our confidence, which is a hope, is in a faithful God.
Confidence is trust. The Old Testament word batach, translated almost always as trust, also means to have confidence in. In 1 Chronicles 5:20 it says, “He [God] heeded their prayer, because they put their trust [or their confidence, batach] in Him.” Again in Proverbs 3:5-6 batach is used. It says, “Trust in [or have confidence in, batach] the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
When we think about confidence, even when we say the word “confidence,” it makes us feel good doesn’t it? It gives us a lift. It gives us energy, strength and courage. And I suppose that is because the word is associated with positive energy. And whether we believe it or not, that energy comes from God. It is a special gift that He has given to all people—the energy, the drive to believe and have hope in ourselves, and in the gifts that we possess. Yes, we are all created in His image. And since He has self-confidence—believing and having hope in Himself (a vast understatement)—all people down deep within themselves have this same self-confidence too. It is inherent in the way He has created us.
But listen to this: God gives a special confidence (a more powerful and more personal confidence) to those who trust Him. It is a childlike confidence in God and in prayer, which comes from our new nature, created for us in Christ Jesus.
Charles Spurgeon speaks of this childlike confidence in His book, The Power of Prayer in a Believers Life. He writes,
Childlike confidence makes us pray as none else can. It causes a man to pray for great things that he would never have asked for if he had not learned this confidence. It also causes him to pray for little things that many people are afraid to ask for, because they have not yet felt toward God the confidence of children. I have often felt that it requires more confidence in God to pray to Him about a little thing than about great things…
What will it take to learn this childlike confidence? In the next few posts we will discuss why confidence in God is necessary for the abiding Christian.