Hindrances to Belief
“ I have no right to say I believe in God unless I order my life as under His all seeing Eye “ – Oswald Chambers
This is the kind of life that God wants you to live, the thanking-God-in-advance kind of life. Jesus talked about it in Mark 11:24: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (NIV).
When you ask God for something, if you don’t believe, then why even ask? It’s an empty exercise. But if you pray and ask God for something, Jesus said, believe that he’s going to do it. Thank him in advance for what only he can do. And then look for how he answers your prayer.
When waiting on God to answer prayers, we must believe God will answer. Unbelief is the biggest obstacle to overcome in praying and waiting. “But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7).
While waiting on God to answer prayers, take stock of your blessings. Are you breathing? Then, rejoice in life! Do you see the blue sky or even a cloudy one? Thank God for the ability to see. Can you hear the sound of the wind blowing through the trees or a child laughing? Praise God for hearing! Turn the wait into a treasure hunt for the blessings that we often take for granted. For remembrance, keep a prayer journal, listing all your prayers with the date of request. Frequently lift up the requests to God, and record the date you received an answer.
Many people have struggled with this question: How can I pray in faith if I’m not absolutely certain that what I’m asking for is in accordance to the will of God? The reason we struggle is that our faith is misplaced. We think that we somehow have to work our faith up to the place where God will answer a particular prayer.
But that is not the case. The object of our faith is the person of God Himself; not our faith. When I do not have faith, I’m saying one of two things: either God cannot answer this prayer or God will not answer this prayer. If I say He cannot, I’m questioning His sovereignty and His power. If I say He will not, I’m questioning His goodness. To pray in faith means that I believe God can and I believe God will insofar as it is consistent with His glory, because God is good.
Sometimes we pray and we ask God for something, and immediately we start reasoning why God can’t answer the prayer. …..Now, when you pray a prayer similar to that, and I’m sure that all of you have had similar situations, what’s the very first thing you start thinking of? You wonder: How can God answer this prayer?…… And so, we don’t have faith. We do not have faith because we do not see how God can answer. That means that our faith is not in the power of God; it’s in our own creativity, our own imagination.
Four Ways God Answers Prayer
One of the people who literally put God “on trial” was a man from the Old Testament named Habakkuk. Habakkuk was a prophet in Judah, and he felt the full weight of the problems, pressures, sins, and difficulties of his family and of his nation. And although Habakkuk lived a long time ago, his story is extremely relevant…especially when you look at modern history and all that we’re dealing with in America and around the world. In Habakkuk 1:2, Habbakuk asked the following of the Lord: How long, O LORD, will I call for help, and You will not hear?”
This was one of those big, deep, tough, “life” questions that Habakkuk was asking God. In the midst of all the chaos surrounding his life, he was basically asking, “God, where were you when I needed you the most?” Habakkuk was grappling with something each of us deals with as believers: unanswered prayer. He was complaining about the silence of God… and in his heart he desperately wanted to know why God wasn’t answering his prayers.
I’m sure you’ve probably felt this way before. Anyone who’s been walking with the Lord for any amount of time has. We want answers when we pray! And it’s frustrating when it seems like God is silent. If you’ve ever felt this way, or even feel this way today, I have a word of encouragement for you. God does answer prayer. But He does it in four different ways.
- I can’t hear you: Sometimes the Lord can’t hear us when we pray. And it’s not because we need to talk louder or speak more clearly. Sometimes God can’t hear us when we pray because according to Psalm 66 and Isaiah 5, there is sin in our life.
- No: Sometimes the Lord says “No” when we pray. And while this can be a very difficult answer to receive, it’s still an answer…regardless if we understand His decision at the moment or not. God is able to reveal His strength in you and me when we are broken and weak. So there is a purpose when God says “No.”
- Yes: There is true power in prayer. And when we pray in Jesus’ name, He may also say “yes”. “Yes, I will forgive. Yes, I will heal. Yes, I will step in to help”.
- Wait: Sometimes the toughest answer to receive from God is “Wait.” When this happens, we need to remind ourselves that God is in control and can certainly handle our situation. We need to allow Him to continue working in whatever way He sees fit. And we can’t try to take back the situation, but must truly be patient and wait on God’s timing!
How to Deal with Doubt
How do we deal with doubt? In Ephesians 6:16, as Paul talks about spiritual warfare, he says that we must take up the shield of faith to quench the enemy’s fiery darts. If we don’t have strong faith, we are vulnerable to the lies and attacks of the enemy. Many Christians live in doubt and fear; they are doubtful and fearful about their past, present, and future, instead of living in faith.
Not only, do we need strong faith to protect ourselves in spiritual warfare but also to see God move powerfully in our lives and others. Jesus said that if we had the faith of a mustard seed we could move mountains (Matt 17:20). To see the kingdom of God advance in lives, churches, and nations, mountains must be moved. How do we strengthen our faith?
What We Must Do to Strengthen Our Faith
- We must be transparent with God
- We must respond to God in faith
- We must be obedient to God
- We must persevere through struggle
- We must be patient
- We must know God’s Word
- We must continually experience God’s presence
- We must know God’s character.
Questions for Chapter 6
- How can we strengthen our faith? Share with the group ways that you have used in which to strengthen your faith .
- If there is a particular area of concern in your life in which you can ask the Lord to strengthen your faith?
- Discuss any new insights / thoughts you have from reading the book or the notes.
- Pg 54-56: Any thoughts on the story of the college freshman and his prayer about the glass flask?
- Share examples from your life when you waited to receive an answer / when you received immediately an answer from praying.