God has been speaking to me about dreaming big and asking for big things. I believe that bold prayers honor God. I also believe that God honors bold prayers! I don’t know where the idea came from in the church that God is offended by our biggest dreams and boldest prayers but I want to shout from the mountains to people to stop thinking that way! Actually, I do think I know where this defeatist idea came from and I feel it needs to be discussed. The side you fall on will determine the trajectory of your life in a big way, so it’s worth talking about.
First, I believe that faith starts like a tiny ember. It can be cared for, blown on and turned into a roaring fire. It also can be snuffed out with a little dirt thrown on it, a foot to step on it, or the care not taken to baby it when it is small…
There was a time when people in the church challenged others to have faith for big things. At least in the charismatic church, I can look back and see that. Some people got answers to their faith and others did not. For the people who did not, they blamed those who told them to have faith. They said that “God obviously doesn’t work that way.” Many of these people turned to Calvinistic views that suggest God is not interested in answering our prayers the way we want them answered and they took the burning ember of faith and dunked it into a well of defeatism.
These are the people who talk about the sovereignty of God all of the time. They think that people with big faith are selfish for wanting good things in their lives. They accuse people with faith for treating God like a “genie in a bottle”.
It really is the pendulum swung in the opposite direction of faith. I think the “character building” idea comforts people who didn’t get their prayers answered and it explains God for them in the only way they know how to explain that He is good. Surely their faith didn’t have anything to do with it. Surely God was just more concerned with their character than answering their prayers. They think they shouldn’t have been so bold as to ask God for such a miraculous thing. Maybe He was offended that they even asked. And so the thought process goes that leads to defeatism and tiny prayers. And I wish I could just take off the black tinted glasses and show them the lies they have believed. Lies designed to bind their hands and make them ineffective and small for the rest of their lives.
I’m not setting out purposely to offend people but this is going to be the final comment that probably will do it. The people I know who think this way are no fun to be around. Seriously. Small thinking. Small asking. AFRAID of God and afraid to believe in anything. I want to help these people come out of this pit, but many are resigned to live in it and somehow feel safe in it. I am not going to tiptoe around these people any more. They are not going to suck me dry or douse my faith.
This is a really touchy subject, I understand. And those people I just described are going to get angry. They typically accuse anyone who challenges them of the most grievous of sins. What is this sin? They think people are blaming their lack of faith as the reason God didn’t answer their prayer. God forbid we cross that line. God forbid we hold them responsible. And what is more, I am not accusing anyone of that, but anyone who dares to challenge the sovereignty of God argument gets looked down on for ‘heaping blame’ on someone who doesn’t deserve it. (Sigh.)
This has become a reason why people in the Church can be afraid to ask God for big things. In some circles it has become politically incorrect to ask for big things because you might offend anyone who hasn’t had their prayers answered. And this is the bucket of water these people use to douse everybody else’s ember of faith. “Are you asking God to heal you of cancer? Well, you better not do it because I already prayed a prayer like that for someone I love and He answered according to His sovereignty, not according to what I wanted. He’s more interested in your character than your healing or happiness.” This is a stronghold the enemy has used to douse faith and keep us stagnant. It keeps the people in the “just barely making it” through life frame of mind, not daring to ask, not daring to believe….trying to live with good works so they are good enough to please God and stay out of hell. Focusing on God’s grace only and not His provision or intervention. This is a doctrine that came from the pit of hell itself and it’s time to let it go.
If prayers aren’t answered and your loved one dies, is it because of your lack of faith? Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. I’m not blaming anyone. We do live in a fallen world with broken systems and broken bodies that all lead to death. Without intervention there are many of us who are going to die prematurely. There are things that don’t work out like we hoped. This is the way of life on planet earth. Nobody should be surprised at a cancer report. There are hundreds of thousands of people if not millions asking God to intervene in their natural death process. I’m not sure He is moved to intervene in most of them. Not because He doesn’t care, but because it is the way of things in this dispensation of life. We’re still in the middle of it. Christ has not returned. Sin still remains. Brokenness hasn’t been fixed yet. Sickness and disease happens, even to those He loves.
Yet some people still do get miraculously healed. In my church there is a man who has actually certifiably raised several people from the dead, including his own son who had been in the morgue for 12 hours. So what do you do with that? That’s stronger than a miraculous cancer healing even. Why do some people get healed and some do not? I really do not believe it is a matter of justice. None of us “deserve” to be healed given the time and place in life and history that we live – and the state of the broken bodies we live in. There is more to the question of why some get healed and some do not.
My bold question to you is this…. what makes your prayer stand out to God?
And, because this post is getting very long, I’m going to continue on tomorrow to finish this thought… stay tuned!
Wendy Selvig is the author of Snatchproof, The Art of Hearing God’s Voice. Westbow Press is the publisher. To get your copy, order it here.