Lately, I haven’t asked God for much. It’s sort of strange, because usually whenever I talk with Him I’m either asking or thanking Him for something. Since my gratitude and requests have recently been limited, my communication with Him has decreased as a result. I suppose the reason for this is because I’m tired of feeling insufficient. I’m tired of feeling like I need help living out my faith. I’ve fallen into the trap of believing that because I have been a person of faith for my entire life, I shouldn’t have any problems living out my faith. I should know how to do it by now, without any guidance.
The reason I feel this way is because I’m a guy who fixates on self-performance. I’m always keeping track of the things I’ve done or haven’t done, or on the things I’ve done right or wrong. Even though my faith tells me that I’m enough just as I am, regardless of my performance, I can’t seem to refrain from placing a large portion of my self-worth in my performance. Part of this is because I’m a perfectionist. I have a very clear and precise vision of the life I want to live and believe I should be living, which has caused me to be excessively self-critical when I’m not pro-actively choosing to live the lifestyle I know I should be living.
As a Christian, I’m told that my faith is dead without actions. I’m called to take action, and to exemplify the nature of Jesus through my actions. I’m told that if I do this, I will make a difference; that God will bless the world and humanity through me. So, naturally, the voice within me that emphasizes performance constantly inquires, “What kind of action am I supposed to take?”
How do I love my neighbor?
How can I be a positive presence in the issue of racism?
How can I be an active voice and presence in the issue of feminism?
How can I exemplify Jesus to the LGBTQ community without an agenda?
How can I bring peace to the lives of those who are suffering?
How can I be active against social injustice?
What must I do?
God, what must I do?
Considering how I can be the most active and effective in all of these various issues, the obvious and most comfortable solution, for a Christian, is to pray. As a Christian, praying about these sorts of issues is beneficial in two ways:
(1) We are told that if we pray, whatever we ask for will be given to us.
(2) Praying is a way for us to feel involved in these issues within the comfort and security of our own personal bubble. (I’m not saying that this is how everybody feels or thinks about prayer, but if I’m being personally honest, I can’t deny that I have frequently used prayer as a method to avoid doing anything outside of my comfort zone.)
But, for me, the reality is that recently I haven’t even had enough faith or confidence in God to pray in the first place.
Most of the times I’ve prayed for something seemingly miraculous, I’ve prayed with the expectation that nothing is going to change; that everything is going to remain just as it currently is, or perhaps even get worse. Lately, my faith has been a harbor of doubt, skepticism, and cynicism, but instead I perceived it all as realism.
That says a lot about my current perception of God.
What exactly does it say about Him?
It says that I believe in a God who is…
– not powerful enough to mend the problems in this world.
– too small to overcome the sin corrupting our humanity.
– indifferent to the suffering pervading the world we live in.
– incapable or indifferent of performing miracles.
– too preoccupied to listen to my requests.
– bound to carrying out His own agenda, without considering my concerns, desires, or requests.
– devoid of love, grace, compassion, and mercy for His people.
Why do I treat God as if this is His personality type?
Why in the world would I, or anybody else, believe in this God?
Last spring, I heard a sermon about prayer that discussed this specific issue of not having enough faith while praying. The pastor explained how we’re told in the Bible that faith can move mountains, yet when we hear that we typically think, “Really? Can my faith actually move mountains? That sounds just a bit out there, don’t you think?” He responded to that thought by inquiring, “How would we know if we’re too skeptical and cowardly to try?”
How many of us have ever had the sort of faith that moves mountains?
How many of us have ever trusted God so deeply that we even dared to ask Him to move mountains?
How many of us have even noticed the times when He does move mountains?
Why is it that I’m always skeptical when I hear stories of miracles happening today, yet believe in the miracles that happened thousands of years ago?
Maybe God is performing miracles. All of the time. What if He is moving mountains, and we’re just too doubtful to notice? What if He’s moving mountains one bit at a time, rather than the entire mountain at once? What if He is using you to move the mountain with Him, and you’re not aware that you’re doing so because you have a pre-conceived vision, or expectation of how the mountain should be moved?
What if I could make a difference and an impact so much greater than I ever imagined, simply by praying with the kind of faith that moves mountains? What if all that’s required of my performance is to surrender my skeptical mentality, and believe that the Spirit works in miraculous ways?
What if I prayed for the hearts of the terrorists in ISIS to be transformed?
What if I prayed for equal rights between men and women?
What if I prayed for the police officers who mistreat and murder black lives?
What if I prayed for the homeless?
What if I prayed for the political leaders of our country?
What if I prayed for the pastors who condemn people in the name of God?
What if I prayed for my friend to be healed of her terminal illness?
What if I prayed for my aunt who forsake her relationship with me and my sisters because of her greed for money?
What if I prayed for these things, and these people, with the kind of faith and confidence in God that moves mountains? What would happen if I truly believed that He could, and would perform miracles?
I want to find out.