Earlier this year, I did a series of posts on why God doesn’t answer prayers. My reason for writing the posts was to push back against the common church narrative which says that if you just have enough faith, God will answer your prayers. I think this is such a problematic teaching as it basically teaches us that if our lives are hard and God is not answering our prayers, it is because our faith is inadequate. We didn’t believe hard or well enough to be rewarded with answered prayers. Which just isn’t true and encourages us to engage in the sort of magical thinking that keeps fairies alive. I suspect that this teaching results in very few answered prayers and a whole lot of burnt out, discouraged Christians.
The other day, I read a wonderful post on just this topic titled “Why Your Prayer Will not Be Answered” which pointed something out which I wanted to pass on to y’all. It was written by John Igbinovia. (Yes that John Igbinovia, also known as XTsamurai, also known as the Nigerian musician I wrote about yesterday. I wasn’t kidding when I said that he was an exceptional person.) At any rate, in it John explains a few things about what faith is and what faith is not:
Faith is NOT the same as belief. . . If GOD has not given insight about a situation to you, there is NOTHING to faith. All you have is passionate ardent belief that is your HOPE – and it is fine to act with the hopes of getting what you want and telling God, your Father, what your desires are. . . Faith is acting based on a KNOWING of God’s intention about something. Basically, there is a plan about a person or situation that God is bringing about and somehow, you have been able to hear or “hear”, as in know SOMEHOW on the inside, what God intends to DO. Praying with that understanding simply aligns with what God plans to DO already “Faith cometh by hearing the word of God”. If you have not heard, what are you “faithing’’?
Mmmmm . . . Doesn’t that explain so much? We have our hopes and desires and even bible verses which can be read to say that God will give us what we hope for and desire. Then when God does not answer our prayers of hope, we feel betrayed and confused. But it’s not our prayers of hope that God answers, it’s our prayers of faith. And faith comes from the promises we’ve been given, not from our own desires for what we want:
Abraham had a son because God TOLD him he would have a son. His faith was based on what he HEARD from God. ALL the heroes of FAITH had a GOD-given conviction about something; it was not just mere belief.
I’ve spent the last couple of years facing, processing and grieving over the ridiculous, unfair, painful mess that my life has been. Which was necessary. Contrary to what some people like to tell you, choosing to simply let go and move on when your life is/has been a living nightmare is neither healthy nor possible. Things don’t go away just because you find a nice sparkly bow big enough to hide them from view.
It’s just been in the last couple of months that God has allowed me to catch glimpses of anything beyond the darkness. And the day before I read John’s post, something in my spirit had told me, “it’s time to start being excited about what God has promised to do in your life.” While I was so deep in the darkness, it was impossible for me to take any real comfort or strength from the things God had promised or plans he’s revealed. As much as I knew I could trust that God would be faithful, I had zero confidence that I wouldn’t be completely destroyed and beyond caring by the time God decided to move. God would move and it would wind up being just another instance where my life was a benefit and blessing to everyone except for me. Which may not be an entirely rational way of thinking, but the deep dark does tend to draw out fears and monsters. So it is what it is.
At any rate, when I read John’s words, it felt like the Spirit telling me that it’s safe for me to have faith in what God has promised. That not only is it safe, but that there’s power in joining my prayers of faith with God’s revealed will. I’ve already lived through a hell so deep, it felt like there was no bottom. I’m now intimately familiar with all that can be learned there. Now it is time to return to the land of the living and see what God has planned. And you know what? I actually am excited about that. Which just goes to show that sometimes God really does work miracles.
You can read the entirety of John’s blog post “Why Your Prayer Will Not Be Answered” on John’s blog, Meditations on The Christ. John also has a novella called Kissing Snakes which is available for purchase on Amazon. I will warn you that there’s theology in it that I strongly disagree with, but it’s still quite excellent. I hope you will consider supporting his work by purchasing a copy. It’s only $2.99. Seriously. Go buy it. We need to support our creative members of the body, yes?