Hi, my name is Christa, and (dramatic pause) I suffer from doubtful prayer. Phew—I said it!
What is doubtful prayer? It means that I know there is no other God above our Creator, that He has unfailing love for me, delights in me—His created daughter, and that He hears my every prayer. But I still doubt sometimes that my prayers will make any difference—that my request will stand out among the billion others God receives daily.
Can you relate? Are there times when you say “Amen” and think: “What’s the point? My prayer isn’t going to change anything.” Times when you can’t shake the nagging feeling that you’re just talking to the wind.
We learn to doubt early in life, likely after the first time we’re hurt by a broken promise, disappointed when someone didn’t keep their word, or let down when something or someone failed to meet our expectations. In an effort to safeguard our physical selves, our “stuff”, and ultimately our hearts, we begin to question, become skeptical, and withhold trust until we receive adequate proof.
Let’s face it, doubt is a necessary part of navigating life in a fragmented world with fragmented humans. But, God reigns far above everything broken and hurtful here. When we open our hearts to Him in prayer and bow at His feet, we’re in a safe place to shed all of the earthly protection we cling to. (Can I get an “Amen”?!) We have complete freedom to move from guarded to unrestrained.
Scripture shows us prayer is a gift from God—the primary way we communicate with Him.
But, prayer is also one of the most powerful, effective weapons we have to fight the darkness that longs to snuff out God’s light. So, it’s no surprise that Satan attempts to shake our confidence in prayer with pervasive feelings of doubt.
James recognized our bent toward skepticism, saying: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8 ESV).
Thankfully, even as we question, God is incredibly patient and uses the opportunity to guide us into deeper revelations of His Truth and unwavering character. He ultimately leaves us no reason to peer at Him through squinted eyes and ask, “How do I know that you’ll really do what you say you’ll do?”
“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor the son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19 WEB)
For me, the antidote to doubtful prayer is this:
• Confession—I confess my hesitation to trust, and ask for God’s grace.
• Gratitude—I thank God for the ways He has blessed and continues to bless me every day.
• Recall—I think back on times when God answered my prayers and showed Himself faithful.
• Read—I immerse myself in the Truth of Scripture, which highlights God’s character and reinforces that I truly have no reason to stand reluctant before Him.
I believe God delights in our doubt. He knows that as we press in to test Him, and find Him trustworthy, we solidify our allegiance and find ourselves more deeply in love with everything He is.
Let’s talk about this. Has doubt crept into your prayer life? Can you recall a time when your questioning pushed you further into God’s truth.
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