A thought just hit me. A question really.
Do I ever pray because I lack faith?
Prayer always looks good. Always. Also It feels good. And Spiritual. But I wonder if sometimes I – and others – ever pray because we do not trust God and are asking him to do something different. I wonder if sometimes our prayers are a reflection of our lack of trust in God and his ways of doing things.
Maybe I can explain it better like this.
What if something happens and we do not have any audio and video for a worship service? My tendency would be to pray the problem would be taken of. Which – all things being equal – is not bad. For I believe God is powerful and can fix this problem. But my tendency is to pray for God to wield this power of his to take care of what I think is the problem. Why is it a problem? Because I do not think God can be worshipped well without A/V. I do not believe the means of grace – the word and sacrament – are powerful for him to be worshipped and to draw people into fellowship with him.
So in unbelief, I pray.
This is different than acknowledging my unbelief in prayer. This is not, “I believe…help my unbelief.” This is, “God, exert your power because I do not think what you have given us as the base minimum for corporate worship is powerful enough.”
No wonder pastors get burned out.
But we also do this as parents and spouses and doctors and lawyers and homemakers and accountants and artists and plumbers. We ask God to do something because we do not believe he is doing something. Either because we look at the mundane and expect the extraordinary as proof of his power or we simply have no vision for a God working where we do not see him working.
This of course does not preclude prayer. The opposite is true. Now we are able to say to God, “I believe you are powerful, so I come to you in prayer. And I believe you are working powerfully for my good (and the good of your people?) even though I can’t see you.”
In other words it’s kinda like saying, “I believe, I believe…help my unbelief.”
Perhaps the question is not, "Do I have faith?" but "In whom (or what) do I have faith?" When routines, systems, our bodies, etc. break down, we pray as if they shouldn't, because we don't want them to. We think God doesn't want them to either, though he assured us all that is worldly will and we should not trust, much less worship the world; to include our own understanding. When our attention is drawn to God away from the world in the midst of brokenness, it may be a call to repentance from idolatry; a sin we should not pray for God to continue to enable, as if he would. James 4:3-10
I am the opposite. I choose not to pray because I lack faith. I tend to be almost fatalistic, calling my fatalism faith in God's plan, but in reality keeping my hopes to myself instead of laying them at His feet. So, I've been learning lately that Jesus wants us to cast all our cares on Him, stupid or not, faithless or not. Only then have I surrendered myself to his will, trusting that his best is the best for the situation. If I harbor my prayers from him, I am acting in self-reliance and pride, hoping to conjure enough faith that I don't "need" to pray. Jesus wants us to need Him–all the time, imperfectly even. This may not be where you were going, but it's been freeing for me to understand that God is big enough for my imperfect prayers, and that He can sift out the selfish silliness when my heart is constantly before Him.
I led the worship team for FCA in college, and one week we had a “prayer and praise” time scheduled. We had a large crowd, and were just getting ready to get started, when the power went out. No lights. No sound system. No air conditioning.A physical plant guy came by and said the power would be back on in a few minutes. Still, people started to leave, and some of the leaders suggested this was a Satanic attack. When I was talking with my best friend and his girlfriend, I mentioned the Satanic attack thing; she (so wisely) said, “Maybe— or it could be God, whittling down the crowd to only those who want to be here for the praise of God, and not for the praise of men.”Ever since then, the possibilities you suggested in this post have loomed large over my default perceptions of ministry. Thanks for another good reminder— good stuff.
Very helpful. Thanks.
Great post and point! So true! Thank you!