Do we have enough faith in our faith?
That sounds like a strange question but it not so strange when the result of our prayer is a no from God.
When the answer is no, we start asking “what is the problem?”
God “powers the system” but our faith is important because our faith permits God to work, or so we think.
Faith insecurity comes into play. Did I say the right words? Did my friends who prayed with me have enough faith? Should I have fasted? Should I have claimed a different promise? Inevitably we begin to think about ourselves when the result of prayer is a no. We may even wonder why a friend gets positive results and we get negative results. What are they doing that is right? What are we doing that is wrong? Things can even get worse. We can begin to doubt that God really loves us, His justice is not as perfect as we thought it was and maybe God is not as good as we once believed.
We need to stop all this second guessing and realize that God is God. We don’t have to have all the self- doubt. I believe that God accepts the Christian where the Christian is and granted, some brothers and sisters seem further along in their walk with God than others. Life will always be that way. No matter what you believe and how strongly you believe it, there will always be others who seem to have more solid belief than you have. It is so easy to fall into the trap of comparison. That is a fruitless thing to do.
Let’s think about some other possibilities.
The answer is no because God loves you. That sounds counter-intuitive but could it be correct? I always have unanswered prayers. Right now some of mine are very particular. Instead of doubting my faith, maybe God has told me no because He has faith in me. Maybe He thinks I don’t have to have a positive response; my faith can withstand the lack of positive reinforcement.
Another possibility is God knows that each of His children has different needs. Everyone is unique; different genes, different experiences and different abilities. He treats us differently because each of us is different.
Another explanation may be that since God has said no, we can turn to others for encouragement and support. What does this do? It reinforces the idea that we need to be loved by one another. That is a basic message from God the Father, a message He wants us to understand.
Lastly, we know that a positive answer would allow us to glorify God. We would take that positive response and sing His praises. But maybe God wants us to grow more in our relationship with Him before the answer is positive. That is a good thing. Maybe we need to learn from more mature believers, tap into our Holy Spirit, learn to pray with more urgency, read His Holy Word etc. In short, we need to expand our relationship, not doubt it.
Seen from these four perspectives, unanswered prayer is not evidence that we lack faith necessarily. We just don’t see things the way our Holy Father does.
Too often we get so upset about getting the negative response. We want our way…
Instead of doubting that we have enough faith, it may be better to just say this to God: “Lord I have the faith to get what I need: I need it.” Faith in God says “Lord, give me faith to accept what you want: I need you.”*
*from W. Bingham Hunter The God Who Hears [162-63].