Christians all have doubts when we pray or seek the Lord. To compensate for that we all employ a few tricks. For example, we might pray generically like this: “Lord please bless all the missionaries”. It sounds good, but how will we ever know if God came through for us? Compare it to: “Lord please give missionary so-and-so a new vehicle by the end of the week”. How specific and with a time limit!
Elijah prayed this way in 1 Kings 18 when he asked God to bring down fire from heaven to destroy his burnt offering (soaked in water!) and prove to Israel that Jehovah was the one true God – not Baal. What an amazing display of faith! But Christians today surely could not pray and trust God today in the same way that Elijah did, right?
How do we get from our generic praying and anemic faithlessness to praying with power and believing that God will come through for us? The answer is that we can get there, but it’s a process. We have to grow our faith one step at a time and it starts with proving God at his word.
What if I am filled with doubt?
Most people who begin the dangerous task of holding God to his word, are filled with doubt. Take comfort, you are not alone. In Mark 9:24, a man with a son possessed with an evil spirit came to Jesus and asked for help. Jesus had made a public point that he was willing and able to heal any that would come to him and ask and this father knew it. But notice his words in verse 24, “Lord I believe, help thou mine unbelief.”
Why was this man filled with doubt? He knew that Jesus had the power to heal his son, yet he was still filled with doubt. You would think that God would be displeased with that lack of faith. After all, we learn later in scripture that without faith it is impossible to please him (Heb 11:6)! Yet Jesus responded to this man and healed his son. Why?
Faith and doubt are always mixed. They are not mutually exclusive, and although more faith is always better, we should expect some doubt to be mixed in as well. This is not bad. It is actually to be expected as we continue to grow in Christ. In fact, Jesus said that we only need faith the size of a mustard seed to get things from God. That means that 1% faith (for example) is enough to pray and get your prayers answered. If we reverse that statement, amazingly we see that we can still have our prayers answered with 99% doubt!
What does 1% faith look like?
Romans 10:14 says:
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?
Paul very logically points out that nobody talks to thin air. Imagine picking up the phone, and knowing that no one was on the other end continue to have a conversation. That is crazy. We don’t talk on the phone unless we have faith that someone is on the other end listening to us. In the same way, nobody prays without believing that there is a God to hear our prayers.
When we get saved, we only need just enough faith to believe that God will hear us when we say, “Lord be merciful unto me, a sinner”.
In the same way, calling on God in prayer proves that we have just enough faith to ask God for what we need (and even want!) and know that he hears us.
Have Faith in God
As you begin to prove God and hold him to his word we will see our prayers answered and our faith will increase. He tells us to pray for our daily bread. You should pray and believe that he will answer that prayer today! What good is a meal tomorrow when you are hungry today? We should pray for forgiveness and mercy and expect God to provide it (1 John 1:9). And we should honor the Lord with our money and expect him to provide for our needs (Malachi 3:10). These are the beginning steps to building faith that God will answer our prayers.
Make it a point to test God this week. Hold him to his word. You may have doubts, just like our friend in Mark 9, but remember that we just need to muster 1% faith – just enough faith to ask.
Your turn! How has God increased your faith this week? What doubts hold you back?
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