In the letter Yakov (James) wrote to the Jewish Believers (not Christians, mind you, but Jewish Believers) in Jerusalem, he was talking about asking for things from God, and how we must be faithful when we ask. In James 1:5-7 he says:
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,…
Wow! Here is the brother of Yeshua (Jesus) saying that if we falter or are unsure of ourselves when we pray to God we shouldn’t expect that God will take that into account and still answer our prayers.
Heavy? Yes. Unfair? No, well…to humans it may seem unfair, but God’s way is not our way.
Think about it from His perspective: if He enables us to be weak and unfaithful in what we do then how will we be able to stand against the attacks from the enemy of God? Satan knows our weaknesses and our doubts- he works with them. God will strengthen us but the enemy works the opposite way, in that the enemy will weaken our faith by placing doubt in our minds. He will attack God by creating events that make us feel God is ignoring us, that God lies to us and that God doesn’t love us. The enemy will attack God by attacking our faith in God.
The enemy wants us to doubt that God will deliver on His promises.
That’s why God has to strengthen our faith by making us work at it. We are, by nature, lazy and we want to be led, that is what the enemy works with when steering us away from God. God, on the other hand, is trying to get us to work towards Him. He makes us exercise our spiritual muscles by forcing us to work at being faithful.
The Greek mythical hero, Theseus, recovered his fathers sword and shield by constantly trying to lift a large rock they had been buried under. Once he was strong enough to move the rock, he recovered these things, which were proof of his parentage and right to the throne.
We have a similar task: the large rock we need to lift is our doubts and our faithlessness, which we need to move out of our way in order to receive what our Father (in heaven) has placed there for us: salvation.
We talk about those who will take the mark and those who will not, but we forget to think about the ones who will turn from the faith in the tribulation. Revelations tells us that many, in some texts it says most (meaning more than 50%) will turn from their faith in God to take the mark of the enemy.
That scares the heck out of me! It should scare you, too, because if you are saying to yourself, “That’s not me- I will never take the mark!” I am right there with you. Except that I am not so sure of myself because I know my faith needs more strengthening, I know I can’t move that rock, not yet, and I need to be able to. It’s my fear of my weakness that keeps me alert and aware.
God will turn us from base metal, slag even, into beautifully refined gold. But we need to go through the fire to get there. The enemy will not do that- he will give us whatever we want, make our lives easy, peaceful, joyful, a hedonists’ wonderland and grant us (initially) everything and anything we want.
This is why Yakov tells us that we shouldn’t expect anything from God if we are unsure of His faithfulness, which is what our faithlessness reveals about us. That is a little hard to understand, so let me rephrase it:
When we are not sure God will do as He says, it means we think God is not able to deliver on His promises. That is what the enemy wants us to think, and it is easier for humans, self-absorbed and egocentric as we are, to believe that God is at fault for not answering prayers than it is to think that it is because of our unfaithful attitude that we don’t receive.
Faith is hard…very hard….to achieve, and even harder to maintain. It is by faith alone we are saved, and it is our faith that gives us the strength and perseverance to maintain our belief and trust in God. And when the fecal matter comes into contact with the air circulation unit, we better have strong and dependable faith.
It isn’t God’s responsibility to answer prayers as much as it is our responsibility to ask faithfully believing that He can answer them. Not that He will, but that He can. God always has the right to say, “No.” to a request from Him. Just because He decides that prayer is not going to be answered doesn’t mean He won’t answer other prayers.
That’s what it means to not waver, to keep walking even if the ground slants, or gets rocky, or we aren’t sure why we have to go this way and not that way. We need to walk with a sure step, with our eyes on the finish line, and not waver from this side to that side. We will probably slip and fall along the way; in fact, more than just once or twice, but God will always be there to pick us up. All the time, so long as we reach out to Him and ask for help. That is one prayer I believe He will always answer- a prayer for help.
All prayers should be submitted to God with the total belief that He is able to answer, even if He doesn’t. Even if His answer is, “Not yet”; even if His answer is, “Maybe later”; even if His answer is, “No way, Jose!”
It’s not about whether or not God answers your prayers, it’s all about believing that He can. If you can handle that truth without being upset or feeling that it is unfair, then you have proper faith and a properly respectful and humble attitude. That’s a good start, but it’s just a start. Very few of us can really lift that rock yet.
I know I can’t lift the rock, not all the way: I need to get back to that rock and keep trying.
We each of us have to work at “lifting the rock” of our faithfully believing in God’s ability to do what he says He will do. We need to walk, not waver, we need to stand firm, not bend in the wind, and we need to trust God, no matter what anyone else tells us or what happens to us.
It’s a big rock that hides our crown of victory, but it can be moved. We just need to keep at it.