AW Tozer gives this simple, penetrating definition of faith in his classic, The Pursuit of God.
Faith is the gaze of the soul upon a saving God.
He supports this with many invitations in Scripture to seek God’s face, to turn our faces toward His. For example, Psalm 123:1-2:
Unto thee I lift up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until he have mercy upon us.
And, of course this marvelous summary statement from Hebrews 12, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.
Believing, then, is directing the heart’s attention to Jesus. It is lifting the mind to ‘behold the Lamb of God,’ and never ceasing that beholding for the rest of our lives. At first this may be difficult, but it becomes easier as we look steadily at His wondrous Person, quietly and without strain. Distractions may hinder, but once the heart is committed to Him, after each brief excursion away from Him the attention will return again and rest on Him….
God invites us to establish the intention of our heart to gaze forever at Jesus, all the while recognizing that there will be many distractions and it will take time to cultivate the habit.
God takes this intention for our choice and makes what allowances He must for the thousand distractions which beset us in this evil world. He knows that we have set the direction of our hearts toward Jesus, and we can know it too, and comfort ourselves with the knowledge that a habit of soul is forming, which will become after a while a sort of spiritual reflex requiring no more conscious effort on our part.
What a beautiful prospect! A heart focused on Jesus as our default position. In every circumstance our eyes fixed on Him.
This gaze of faith has marvelous transforming power, without self-consciousness.
Faith is the least self regarding of the virtues. It is by it’s very nature scarcely conscious of its own existence. Like the eye which never sees itself faith is occupied with the Object upon which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all. While we are looking at God we do not see ourselves — blessed riddance. The man who has struggled to purify himself and has nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks at The perfect One. While he looks at Christ the very things he has long been trying to do will be getting done within him.