I started writing this some time back but couldn’t finish it and didn’t feel comfortable posting it (hence why I have been quiet on the blogging front) as I was still processing a lot of stuff but I think it is important to post it anyway as I hope that my transparency will help someone. Me and my Christian friend were having the exact same questions and going through the same frustrations with God. Anyway, things have changed for both of us since, so I have put an update at the end.

I’ve lost my confidence in God. Yeah I said it

One of things that we as Christians are very good at is putting on a mask and showing the ‘good’ side of us as if we have it all together but we are terrible at showing our bad side.We don’t like to show any kind of weakness or doubts in our faith. But the bible is full of characters who have fallen, verbalised their struggles, been upset with God and scripture does not try to hide that fact. One person who is very transparent about his Christian journey is Michael Patton who has recently blogged about his addiction to pain killers and you only have to read some of his subsequent posts to see how he is getting on in rehab and how God has used this situation. Kind of reminds me of Paul in prison but I digress.

This year, I have seen quite a few people now beginning to question the norm in churchianity which I think is a good thing because it means that they are not just blindly swallowing anything that they are being fed.   This includes one of my favourite UK (ex-gospel) rappers Jahaziel who has unfortunately now publicly now renounced his Christian faith. And even though there are a lot of things that he has posted on his instagram that I do not necessarily agree with, there are difficult questions that I’m sure, a lot of us as believers do ask, which are at the back of our minds and those questions never really go away because we never really get a satisfying answer.

So what is my struggle? In a nutshell, I struggle in believing that God is interested in my personal desires on earth. The big stuff like creation, salvation, the resurrection of the dead, judgement etc is not a problem for me but little ol’ me who wants ‘X’ which is not sinful, and never seems to be in reach after praying for it, yet an unbeliever who is not praying at all, gets it without nearly as much as a struggle does make me question things. I’m not talking about the one offs but I’m talking about it almost becoming the norm up to the point where you almost expect God NOT to give you the desires of your heart.

Now as I have been in the Christian thing for quite a bit of time, I basically know the standard responses but I will type up everything that basically goes on in my head and the typical responses (TR) that I expect to get.

Me: Why is it that when I pray for ‘X’ which is my personal non sinful desire, more than likely, I will not receive it? Whilst the other unbelievers don’t pray at all and seem to go further than the believers. If that is the case, what exactly is the benefit in praying for my earthly desires?

TR: Remember what happens to the end of the unbelievers as spoken in Psalms 73

Me. I understand their end but I am talking about the here and now on earth.

TR: God is developing your character. Be patient. He maybe saying ‘wait’or ‘no’

Me: Well I have been trying for ages and and nothing is happening or I get near and then constantly come against a brick wall. Its almost as if I am being teased only for the rug to be swept under my feet on a constant basis. How long do you keep trying before you decide to give upon your personal desire/dreams and come to the conclusion that its a no?

TR: Maybe God has something better for you.

Me: If you mean something better within the field I want, then see my previous answer. If you mean something else which means that I shelf my desire, then it goes back to my original point where I do not believe that God is that interested in my personal desires on earth

TR: You asked with wrong motives

Me: Nope.There was a time that I did ask with wrong motives when it was all about me, and God pulled me up about that . This time, I have examined my heart and I know it is not the case

TR: Faith without works is dead. You can’t expect God to do everything for you.You have to do your part

Me: This is a very true statement. If someone wants to pass their exam.They cant expect to pray to get an ‘A’ grade without revising and studying first. But this does not apply to me

TR: You are saying what YOU want a lot and it may not be God’s will. Remember Jesus said to the Father “Not my will, but thine be done”

Me: If this is the case, does God not care about my personal will at all then? I know that everything we do should be for the glory of God but does that mean that I am not allowed to have earthly desires? If not, then why bother pray

So as it stands, I still have unanswered questions here. If person A keeps praying for earthly desire X with a right motive and doesn’t get it. Yet unbelieving person B (and C and D) doesn’t do any praying but gets X,what is the benefit in person A praying for X. Shouldn’t he just have a ‘whatsover happens happens’ attitude? Especially when he gets so close only for a brick wall to be placed in front. It almost comes to the point that you prefer to aim low and more likely hit the target than continuing to aim high in prayer, only to be constantly disappointed with the outcome which is emotionally draining

Why not just forget the ‘prayer part’? I mean, persons B, C and D don’t have to go through it and in general, they seem to be more successful in getting results.

Prayer is not like the War Room movie which although it was inspirational but totally unrealistic compared to real life. I can’t go into it but basically, I agree a lot with this article where Jesus is basically reduced to a genie. Unfortunately, you will find that life is not like that, even when you pray.

My conclusion is that God is more interested in HOW we respond when we get (or don’t get) our answers prayers and is not as interested in the prayers getting answered in and of themselves because he is more interested in our character more than anything else

Is that a satisfying answer? Probably not. Am I wrong? To be honest, I’m not 100% sure. What do you think?

UPDATE: I think God must have heard me and my friend’s sincere prayers and questions, because both of us have had answers to our prayers ‘out of the blue’ which we both did not expect and these were BIG prayers. Not that the object of the prayers were big but big in the sense that if you can’t have confidence to trust God with the ‘small’ then it rocks your prayer foundation. This has definitely made me get my confidence back with God especially where prayers are still ‘outstanding’, where I am not so worried about them now and feel comfortable leaving it in God’s hands. However, my view of the nature of prayer has definitely changed and at the moment, I am still sticking with my conclusion above. Even when I look at scripture, overall, I don’t see that believers ‘get more stuff’ than unbelievers. I recently heard on TV from a ministry that believes that this is ‘The Year of Divine Favor‘ and that many will get money via Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) mis-sellings and they need to ‘speak things into the atmosphere’.  I thought “Really? Do you really think that Christians will have an advantage in claims over non believers”.

Like I wrote before,the reality of being a Christian is that life is life.

So as I asked above, am I wrong in my conclusion? What do you think?

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Comments
  1. Allan says:

    Prayer first a foremost should be, I think, about the glorification of God Its easy for person B, C and D etc to get stuff but to what end?, to their glory?, certainly not for God’s. There is always testing going on, and many times it takes a fellow believer to remind us that it not about us, it’s about Him.
    I like what James says:
    ‘My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
    But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing….
    ….But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.’
    Prayer is our communication with God. It’s our intimate conversation. Not just to ask for stuff, but for fellowship. He is after all, our Father.

    • Alan Higgins says:

      I agree. But my ‘argument’ was a Christian could ask for things in faith and with the right motives and to glorify God with the answers and most of the time, nothing happens for them. I understand that it’s not just for us to consume on ourselves

  2. “So as I asked above, am I wrong? What do you think?”

    Hello, I think the answer to your struggle is certainly very close to your conclusion. Although what I think or anyone else is not really going to get you the answer so much as a good systematic study of scripture – and by that I mean dropping it back on God and letting that answer come as you continually allow Him to speak through His Word in your studies (which you seem to be doing).

    Here I’m not trying to be mean at all, but reading through your post I couldn’t help but think this is all a self-focused issue. You appear to be more concerned about the pragmatic outcome than God’s will – that’s just the impression it left for me.

    I would be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with this from time to time, but I definitely struggled with it far greater a few years ago. My studies which have constantly taken me back to God’s Word daily have changed that struggle for me to be under the umbrella of trusting God’s sovereign plan. In that I mean even when I get concerned about desiring something in my life I believe is not sinful (and even if I believe it’s not sinful, it may be something that is no good for me) I know now it may not be something that He wants in my life right now (if ever) and learning to be more concerned with how he is working out salvation for those I know who are not saved, as well as ministries that I can be a help with, has actually helped me be less concerned with my personal desires.

    To point out the scripture that comes to mind for me whenever I begin to struggle with similar issues, are verses like the one that talks about denying myself. I also continually go back to the cross where my first love is, and see how I never deserved salvation, and that everything I have, even the shirt on my back is a grace gift from God that he could take away tomorrow.

    Studying Job also helped me come to terms with my personal wants/desires vs my personal needs. Jesus taught us to pray for our needs to be fulfilled, not necessarily our wants. If I desire something I do not need, I put that in the category of optional. Can I live without it? Yep. I can live without 99% of the things I have right now. I find I’d rather be thankful for what I have than ask for more, and often I’m careful not to ask for too much because material things can be a snare.

    Now if I’ve not hit on any of the categories you’ve prayed about, I may here: if it involves a friend or loved one; I realized a long time ago (as you probably have to) that I can’t be someone’s Holy Spirit. If it has to do with sanctifying others (or even yourself) I know so much of that has exactly to do with your conclusion. It was very upsetting to me for while when I realized that I needed to be super patient, but as time went on, and as God has sanctified me further, I find that how things unfold some of the things I used to desire are no longer things I desire, and for good reasons. Veils over situations have been pulled away, and I have found that things I’ve prayed for were actually not what I should have wanted.

    I keep thinking these days about eternity and the last day – what all will be burned up? Is my time being spent on eternal things rather than temporal? Am I sharing the gospel at every opportunity reasonably possible, or at least trying to put a spiritual stone in people’s shoes? These are the questions that lead me back to a better attitude about what I am praying for.

    I don’t know if anything I say will help, but that’s my two cents.

    • Alan Higgins says:

      Justin thanks and I take no offence at your response. Regarding it being ‘self-centred’,you can see above that that was one of the typical responses and I was very aware of that danger. Before I came to my conclusion, I did think about what prayer was (and wasn’t) in scripture and I think my conclusion seems to be quite accurate (so far). Anyway,I wrote the update at the end to state that it is not so much of an issue now but I wanted people to see my struggle so that they didn’t think I had it altogether

      • You know, I think my friend Aaron hit the nail on the head recently about people who aren’t (or are) Christians thinking we have it all together, is likely due to the fact that we are not heeding James when it comes to Biblical confession of sins. We don’t openly confess our sins and doubts to one another consistently (if at all!) in most churches. It seems foreign even to me. I think it’s possible if people began fellowships where confession of the sins they are struggling with started to happen a transparency that you can’t imagine would bring people much closer.

        And to be honest, I’m not even completely comfortable with this, because I’ve hardly done it! I really wonder what kind of impact this would have in our Christian lives if we actually did that!

        • Alan Higgins says:

          I have found that sharing struggles is one of the most effective ministry and helps those who feel as if they are alone and unique in their struggles. Even yesterday, a brother shared his struggles and by me just telling him that I am going through the same thing was comforting so I think you are right

  3. Michael Harding says:

    Faith, HOPE and charity……… of these Three!

  4. James says:

    Come out of the Christianity bubble where it has so been taken over by greed and wealth it’s a religion of do as I say not as I do ! It runs on fear. God is bigger than religion. Free your self. A guy called David icke has some good books you should read. Peace brother

    • Alan Higgins says:

      Admittedly some of those on authority do run what what they call Christianity based on fear but when you study the same scriptures properly, you will know that it is not REAL Christianity

  5. I appreciate your honesty so much in this post. In thinking about your post . I can say that I have prayed in time past and even recently and received a lot of answers to my prayers. I have gotten answers to tangible things like finances, promotion, a new business , health .There are some I’m still waiting on and some so painful like I prayed that God would help my marriage but that one I haven’t gotten an answer to but there are a lot of factors involved I guess.I don’t want to act like I have all the answers but I look to one of my favorite personalities in the bible .. David . He had many triumphs and many failings and so I take comfort in that example . God answered many of his prayers but there were many he didn’t get answers to. I hold on to the unfailing hope of what the scripture says about Jesus being moved by the feelings of our infirmity and also that the thoughts of God towards us are of good and not evil and to bring us to a good and expected end. It’s been such an incredible journey and and God is still faithful as I keep going on .once again thank you for writing this post

  6. lindam says:

    Hello,
    What are prayers for? To communicate with God, to be in his presence, to petition, to request help, to ask for God’s work and will in our lives, to express our love and devotion, to praise him, to thank him, to cry out to him, to call on him to deliver us.
    Paul says that we are to pray unceasingly. At any moment we can be praying to God about something. Asking for direction? Involving him and his directives into our lives all day long.

    It is Christ in us the hope of glory. We need to let our lives go and live for Christ. We died on the cross with Jesus to the things of the world, the bible says. God is making us a new creature, we are not who we were before being born again. We need to recognize that we have been bought by the blood of Jesus. We are his possession, we are no longer our own. If we do not desire this for our life then we are at risk for rejecting Christ and consequently rejecting his salvation.

    I have a blog site ‘Aboutthechurchbody.com’ which I have begun as a way of expressing my concerns about the church and believers in our time and day.

    • Alan Higgins says:

      I totally agree with what you have stated and that wasn’t really my argument but thanks for your comment

  7. I totally use to feel the same way. I use to feel that people who did wrong (me or other people) always won the race. I felt that those who didn’t spend much time with God always reaped better benefits. One day I was out to lunch and I heard God tell me not to be deceived by what you see in the lives of unbelievers or people who persecute you for any reason. God is JUST. You must believe that. I am a real life example of how God will set your table in front of your enemies. I could go on for days! It is the enemies job to make you feel that 1. God isn’t real, 2. His word doesn’t work., and 3. That we all out here just surviving without any real divine purpose.
    I can definitely see how it can be frustrating when you are praying for something and you don’t get it but someone else does effortlessly. Even when you want something so bad, trust that God see’s the bigger picture. I trust that he doesn’t give me stuff when I’m not ready to handle it or that he doesn’t allow me to get in my own way. Have you ever gotten something you really wanted and then it turned out that it was no good for you? I’ve had those moments. God always gives us more than we ask for in the end and it’s usually stuff we don’t ask for because we don’t think in that capacity because of what we can only see physically.
    I adored your post! Please keep them coming. I can totally relate.
    One Love,
    Tiffany

  8. Mary Ann says:

    Good point Alan, about God being concerned with how we react to answered/ unanswered prayer.. but also you may find it helpful to question if Ephesians 6:12 is a key.. Daniel was troubled for not hearing any answers from God.. Daniel 10:13.. he was up against spiritual warfare..

  9. Tammi Kale says:

    Hello Allan – my reply is on a much less theological level – it’s more from my heart. Above all, I believe that Jesus was and is the Son of God and came to Earth as human and died on the cross to save us all from sin. I know that you know as well as I do that that is how one is saved. That to me defines it all. Yes, I believe in the power of prayer – but other than the Lord’s prayer – I think every other prayer is prayer from our minds more than our hearts, calling upon every verse regarding prayer as we do so. I say ‘minds’ even as at the same time I know our ‘hearts’ steer us to go to prayer with our minds. And that’s faith, which I could not live without. But, as the Lord’s Prayer says “On Earth as it is is Heaven” …. this earth is a far cry from heaven….and no matter how hard we try to be ‘good’ – and that is very broad word but for the sake of space and that being a whole other matter, please skip over the theological aspects of ‘good’ for this point – this world is a ravaged place. When we trust with the blind devotion of a child, I believe yes, our prayers are answered. They may not be answered in the way WE are hoping for them to be, but the way that steers our life towards the life God has set before us – when we learn to listen and follow. Irregardless of HOW they are answered, when we are the child before Him, we can see how he is answering. So it’s not so much to pray, and pray, and pray, and pray, and pray until we give up because there’s no answer….it’s because we’re not open to the answer He’s giving. Test it….it sounds to me as if you’ve already experienced such an answer. And look how glorious it was when you did…..as all answers are when we open ourselves to Him to see them. Even if it’s not the answer we want.

  10. Geoff says:

    Great post friend,

    One of my favourite things to read, is legit honesty.

    It might be more helpful for people if you are perhaps a little more specific about your prayer request?

    By your responses to some of the other comments, and the vibe from your post, it sounds like your request is something you probably can’t buy, or tangibly do much about, like getting your dream job, or owning a house.

    If it was then I think some of the responses you’ve received are perfectly valid, such as ‘God isn’t going to do it all for you’. That seems pretty straight forward, if you want a good job or house, then ultimately you need to put the effort in for them.

    It sounds more like you’re request is something more personal, like a special someone, or some personal behaviour your trying to adopt (or get rid of)?

    In this case I think your concern is quite valid. It can seem frustrating when we have a heartfelt desire that seems quite reasonable. Off the top of my head the only advice I can offer is perhaps seek out some of the books in the Bible that deal with struggles like this (Lamentations, Job, Ecclesiastes etc.)

    One of the big attitude changes I had when I became a Christian was, not so much the shedding of personal desires, but a very practical acceptance that they are ultimately not necessary. Even relationships. I am, praise God, now married to a fantastic woman. But in fact when I gave my life to Christ, for the first time in years I was not looking for, nor did I need, a relationship.

    In other words, I didn’t give up my desires, but I gave up chasing them as if they were somehow necessary or important.

    I don’t really know off the top of my head if the Lord really does, or does not ‘care’ about our personal desires. My suspicion is that, if they are not directed towards him and his glory, then no, he probably doesn’t. And I don’t have a problem with that.

  11. […] children’s uncle, Wayne Grant, about my frustrations with God (which can be read in my Can I be honest post) which and in his own words, every now and then, he gets a ‘spiritual download’ […]

  12. Grace says:

    Alot of penticostal churches talk about declaring changes into existence. Anything from the salvation of others to an increase in finances or a change in our/others characters. I cant think of any biblical backup… Can anyone else? Im sure there is. Which gets me to my point – EVERYTHING IS JUSTIFIABLE. From the Bible people can create numerous doctrines and convince you of their validity. But Christ told us that the Kingdom of God is like a hidden treasure. I love reading Matthew 13 with the whole truth of the word of God in mind (not just the message of getting to heaven). I too am on a desperate hunt for what’s missing in this thing we call Christianity. We will find the hidden treasure 🙂

    • Kat says:

      I’m not Pentecostal but it surely works. People are not keeping up with God’s acceleration in the Spirit, they get lost in translation.

      If you don’t feel satisfied, why not go into the deeper things of God. Watch movies like Finger of God, Holy Ghost Reborn for a kick start

  13. Kat says:

    My thing is, why put our big and awesome God in a tiny box? He may give more to believers than unbelievers, or vice versa. I just don’t think it’s fair to say what God will and won’t do. There were many kings in the bible who were rich but they never had God. Why compare our things to things of the world? We should not covet the things that unbelievers have.

    I once asked God for money in order to get by. Well, He didn’t give me money but he did change my circumstances around where I could have extra money for certain necessities.

    I prayed for a promotion for my husband’s main job, well he ended up getting promoted with his second job which is a lot more money.

    Sometimes we have to make our supplication known to him, and pray his will and know that he will do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think.

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