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?