If you’ve ever doubted your faith, wondered what the point of prayer is, or just want to read some vulnerable thoughts, this post is for you.
I’ve gone to, volunteered, and even worked in a church most of my life. My involvement has differed depending on my location, the church, and my spiritual status at the time.
I frequently think about where I could be today if I had stayed involved at the level I was during my teenage years. Thoughts of not being where I should be versus where I am spiritually sometimes hold me back from moving forward. I think of the passage in Hebrews 5 that talks about the people should be teachers, but are still needing to be taught the basics because they haven’t matured in their faith.
It’s funny how Satan uses whatever means possible (even God’s Word) to keep us immobile and away from the thing we need most.
There’s been times I believed without doubting and then times of doubting with sprinklings of belief and clinging to the little I knew to be true. I’ve learned that the doubting, the seeking, and the proofing of my faith have also been necessary.
I’ve heard of others who haven’t ever doubted once they believed, which made me doubt my belief in God even more, thinking if I’m doubting, then did I ever really believe?
Comparison. Satan likes to use that tool as well.
I also went through a stage (and still battle this one) of thinking that if God is all-knowing and in control of everything, then why should I even ask for anything or pray? If God is going to do whatever he wants anyway, then what’s the point of me trying to do or pray for anything at all?
When fighting these thoughts, I focus on the very basic essence of prayer– talking to God. This is how relationships are built. Talking to someone allows us to know them and trust them. It creates a back and forth exchange where each entity learns something about the other. And when I can’t hear God? I look to the Bible, where I can find his very words.
I’ve been reading Trusting God by Jerry Bridges. The book deals with God’s sovereignty in all things and points to the scriptural evidence. One of the chapters I recently read mentioned Daniel 9 and talked about how Daniel could have looked at God’s sovereignty and just given up and accepted a “do-nothing attitude.” However, he saw his people’s exile as a way to stimulate him to pray.
When I think of some of the toughest times of my life, I see how the tough times have motivated me to pray, even though I tried to fix the problems myself. The times I have felt closest to God is when I realize I can’t do this myself and need the help of a supernatural being who can control the outcome.
But what about the not-so-bad times? What about when I think I can handle this and God has bigger things to take care of than this? How about when I’ve prayed the same prayers hundreds of times and I still feel no closer than where I was the first time I asked?
Yeah, those times are tough. Those are the times my faith gets tested and I begin thinking my faith still hasn’t grown past infancy.
This is the part that started this post in the first place.
When all your prayers seem to go nowhere. When all you receive are teeny, tiny glimmers of hope, flying by like dust particles in sunlight. Remember this:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.James 1:2-3 English Standard Version
I’ve come to believe that the testing of my faith over the years has been good for me. I think it’s good to challenge what one believes. I remember years in college, taking several religious studies classes, wanting to see the comparisons and contrasts between the faith I grew up in and other world religions. I kept coming back to Christianity because of Jesus. God in human form and everything he embodied wasn’t something the other religions had.
Back to those glimmers of hope… I encourage you to hold onto them. Keep asking, keep praying. If you’re feeling hopeless, change your prayer to asking for a change in your heart and desires. And if they’re still there, then keep asking. I’m learning that even if the answer is no or not right now, then there’s something better or a better time I can’t see right now.
I may not be where I could have been in my spiritual maturity, but I’m learning God’s sovereignty means he can take what I think is less than and use it for his glory. And that’s all that matters, so I shouldn’t beat myself up when he considers me more valuable than I do (Matthew 10:29-31).
Wherever you are today or wherever you think you should be but aren’t, remember your worth. The grace you give to others, God has already given you so much more (Romans 5:20). Out of all creation, only you have been created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). It is for you and me, Jesus existed to bring us back to God (1 Peter 3:18). You are valuable (Luke 12:24).
Whatever you do, keep on. You may not “got this,” but God does.