If you have ever prayed and felt a level of angst or disconnection, let me just start by saying “welcome to the club.” We have all spent a chunk of time praying only to be left feeling discouraged and not connected to the Lord like all those holy-rollers that describe their mountain-moving prayer time.
There is a specific reason for this and we are going to dive into our prayer series by laying a foundation for our prayers that I know I can sometimes overlook.
FAITH VS. UNBELIEF
James 1:6-7 AMP says “But he must ask [for wisdom] in faith, without doubting [God’s willingness to help], for the one who doubts is like a billowing surge of the sea that is blown about and tossed by the wind. For such a person ought not to think or expect that he will receive anything [at all] from the Lord.”
I have been tossed by that wind before. I had been praying and praying and praying, but never surrendering. Never believing that God could truly transform me. If you asked me if I believed, I would have told you yes. If you heard me pray, you would have assumed I believed too. But somehow I was saying all the right things, all while fixing my eyes on the circumstance. When I stopped to really think about God’s power, ability and desire to see me experience His peace, I was able to pray with conviction and faith.
We can talk about techniques and creating a habit or fancy tools, but really, what we say doesn’t matter one lick if we do not have faith or believe He is capable.
- Do we even believe God can do what He says He can do?
- Do we even believe our prayers make any difference to the God of the universe?
- Do we even believe our circumstances can change by simply talking words in the air?
In Mark 6:5-6 “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” The Amplified version explicitly says “He could not do a miracle there at all [because of their unbelief] except that He laid hands on a few sick people and healed them.” There’s no beating around that bush. Their lack of faith stopped miracles from happening.
What are we missing out on simply because we don’t believe God can do it? If healings were minimized as a small footnote of what God had planned, what level of miracles has unbelief kept us from? Just the idea that God has so much planned for us that we resist by being faithless has me seeing the importance. I don’t want to miss out on anything God so generously offers me for the obvious reason of the blessings but also because it’s one more way to point others to Christ when unexplainable things happen in my life.
So if you struggle with unbelief, let’s start right here and establish a firm foundation of who we are praying to and why we are praying to Him.
1 . Pray for it.
Ironic isn’t it? And it’s probably getting a little annoying that one of my tips is ALWAYS to pray but this is the most powerful thing we can do so I’ll keep starting here. The apostles said in Luke 17:5 “Lord, increase our faith.” It’s a short and sweet prayer that will change our lives.
2. Get to know God.
Read His Word. This is why the Scripture section is one of my favorites in our prayer journal. Because when I try to start praying and am distracted by the world, I need an anchor to hang my prayers on. E. M. Bounds said “Doubt and fear are the twin enemies of faith. Sometimes they actually take the place of faith, and, although we pray, it is a restless, disquieted, uneasy, complaining prayer that we offer.” When I read about the character of God before I pray, I am reminded of just what God that pray to.
3. Ask for miracle stories.
What if every time we met up with a friend, we asked this, “What miracle has God done in your life?” What if, even before we could open our eyes to what God had done in our life, we establish a faith by knowing what He has done for those around us? It happens often when I’m reading books or listening to the radio that I’ll hear how God performed a miracle in someone’s life and I’m either moved to tears or get chills all over. It’s as if I’ve forgotten God is capable of those things and am awoken to it again.
4. Share your own miracles.
Honestly, I created the Prayer Memoirs as a place to write down all the ways God has worked in my life, but my prayer is that we will share those with others. Your story may be the thing that changes someone else’s perspective of God as a far-off entity to someone who is active in our life.
5. Find a mentor.
Maybe there are deeper issues for why faith is a struggle having to do with past struggles or what was ingrained in you growing up. Inviting a believer to walk with you, answer questions and help you wrestle with that may be life-changing. Whatever you do, do not overlook any area of unbelief. Without faith, we will never become the prayer warriors we all long to be. E. M. Bounds said “Prayer is absolutely dependent on faith. It has virtually no existence apart from it and accomplishes nothing unless it is faith’s inseparable companion…While faith does not bring the blessing, it puts prayer in a position to ask for it.”
Now it’s time to take action. Which one of the five tips are you starting with? Share in the comments below!
COMING UP TOMORROW: Embracing a Biblical approach to affirmations
Love this! I’m praying Luke 17:5, too!
Yes!! Such a short prayer but necessary for life. I love knowing the disciples asked for this too!!
I just wanted to share that I think I need to start at #1 with praying for faith! I “know” the truth in my heart but I don’t always believe it or have faith about it or trust God to take care of it and help me through it. Sometimes I feel like I am praying empty words without faith to trust him to answer it. Thank you so much for this post and I can’t wait to read the rest this week!
Ah! Good for you for figuring out where to start! I feel like I have to shake myself sometimes as I pray to ask “Do I believe this? or am I just used to saying the right things?” Even if the answer is yes, I believe, there is a new conviction in my prayer when I’m alert to my faith if that makes sense!
I loved this!! I recently have been going through a rough spot and finding a mentor is so amazing, telling someone what you are going through can help you make amazing friendships and strengthen your relationship with God.