YOUR HEART: FAITH VS. DOUBT
James 1: 6-7 reminds us:
“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”
When we pray, the Lord prompts us to ask in faith! Our doubts can create roadblocks.
Like Peter, we may sometimes quietly deny God’s faithfulness, goodness or ability. This lack of faith can clog up our prayer life. We can’t get close to God if we don’t trust Him or believe that He is good.
So if you’re struggling with prayer or don’t feel much like praying at all, you might be dealing with one of these misconceptions about God’s heart and identity.
Misconception #1: God doesn’t know or understand my needs.
He DOES know you. He knows you better than you know yourself. Matthew 10:29-30… “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” He knows before we ask him!
So why does he want us to pray? What’s the point? It’s about intimately knowing, loving and worshipping God. It’s about conforming our lives to his will and his ways. Prayer is about accessing and advancing his power, kingdom and glory. ALL of these require interaction.
Misconception #2: God isn’t able to help.
The apostle Paul answered this objection with one of the most resounding exclamations in the Bible. He declares that God is able to not only do whatever we can imagine Him doing, but He is able to do ABOVE and BEYOND all that we could ever ask or think (Eph 3:20).
The original Greek of this scripture carries the idea of superabundance, exceedingly high amounts, an ability that goes beyond all forms of human measurement. That’s exactly what God has. That’s who He is. Total ability and power. Omnipotence. When you look at the stars, or look in a mirror, you see God’s ability to do things well. If you truly believe this, then it should be no trouble for you to believe that ‘if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14). We can also believe that with faith, no larger than a mustard seed, we can say to the mountains, whatever the mountain is, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move (Matt. 17:20).
God truly can do anything, and even Jesus said “With men, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible (Matt. 19:26).
Misconception #3: God doesn’t care.
The question that we all like to ask, even after a person accepts God’s omniscience and omnipotence is: “If He knows everything, and can do everything, then why won’t He help me? To know and not care? Isn’t that the worst quality of all?”
Here’s the important part. Repeat this over and over until it makes sense…
A lack of immediate action should NEVER be interpreted as a lack of concern. God cares for the birds of the air, and if He cares for them, how much more, then, does He care for you? Every breath we take is a gift from God. A gift that is God shouting from above that He does care about us.
Misconception #4: God isn’t likely to do anything anyway.
Mark 11:24 says the opposite: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
God is willing to listen, respond, counsel, comfort, encourage, direct and rescue.
Mark 1:40-41 tells the story of the leper: “A man with leprosy[a] came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
41 Jesus was indignant.[b] He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”
We are the ones who are weak and unwilling. Unwilling to believe, wait, accept or to have all of our questions answered. Jesus was willing to go to the cross for you! Even now, he is praying and working. He isn’t a genie who just grants our wishes and we should be happy for that! God gives us the capacity to trust that His reasons are in keeping with His wisdom and His will.
Here is a prayer that can help us with having faith vs. having doubt:
“Lord, I believe in your perfect knowledge and understanding of me. I believe in your total, unlimited ability to accomplish your holy will. I believe you care and are willing to help me. That I can be certain that you will take the best, most loving, most appropriate actions towards me and my needs.
So keep me coming to you, Lord, where all my hopes are safe and secure; and keep me asking you, in faith, knowing you are aware, able, caring, willing and likely. In Jesus name, Amen!”
Thanks for listening!
– Emily (in for Lilly and Joe)