Floods. Fires. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. If you’ve watched the news at all in the past month, you know it seems like our world has been cast in an apocalyptic movie. Everything has seemingly gone wrong all at once, and it’s scary.
As I’ve watched what’s happening, I admit I’ve found myself following social media and I’ve been shocked by people’s responses, particularly in regards to Hurricane Irma. I lost count of the number of Christians who posted something to the effect of: “It’s okay. I prayed, so God will turn the hurricane around.” Let’s be real for a moment. Demanding God answer our prayers the way we deem best is not faith. It’s arrogance! Now before you start sending me emails about the power of prayer please note I believe, as God’s children, we are called to pray. Not only that, but God answers prayers. He is in the miracle-making business. Having said that, I think many Christians have missed an important point about prayer and faith.
Somewhere along the way, many of us have been led to believe that if we pray and believe God will do what we ask, then it will happen. That’s not faith!!! True faith is never about what God can do for us. Faith is all about God. It’s why this Believing God series has been interwoven with the names of God. If you look at the original Greek word used in Scripture for faith, the word used is “peitho,” and it means “to put confidence in God.” Note that it doesn’t say “to put confidence in God, so He will answer your prayers the way you think He should.” Genuine faith is saying, “God, I trust You no matter what. I lay my requests at Your feet, and if You don’t answer my prayer the way I wish You would, I will trust You know best. I will still believe.”
And that right there is why faith is so terrifying. It’s letting go of our need to be in control and admitting that we can’t see the whole picture. It’s looking at the truth of Hebrews 11:39-40 and understanding that sometimes we won’t receive what we asked for because God has something better waiting for us in heaven. Faith isn’t a math problem, where if we do a + b then we’ll get our desired result. Faith is a daily choice of choosing to believe God no matter what, and when we start to live this out, then God will show up and show out.
I love the promise found in 2 Chronicles 7:14 which says, “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” That, my friend, is what prayer is all about. It’s about seeking God and admitting we need Him. It’s surrendering all that we are and trusting Him no matter what.
So many of us have missed the mark when it comes to believing God. We’ve misunderstood what faith really is and we’ve been operating in our own strength. Ephesians 6:16 tells us to “take up the shield of faith so that we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Interestingly enough, the definition of shield in this verse actually means door. Think about that. When our faith is in God, He is a door that protects us and stands between us and Satan. It doesn’t mean the attacks won’t come, but the door is firmly closed.
At the beginning of the summer, I went to the beach with my family. A tradition I have with my three nephews is I take them out into the ocean and we go boogie boarding. One day, while my brother-in-law played with my two youngest nephews in the shallow surf, I took the nine-year-old further out into the water. The current that day was extremely strong, and I was constantly on guard so that neither of us would get pulled out to sea. Needless to say, my strength didn’t hold out for long and after twenty minutes, we had to come in where I promptly collapsed in my beach chair thoroughly exhausted. Barely a minute passed before my three-year-old nephew came running up to me asking why I wasn’t playing. I responded by telling him the water was too strong and it made me tired. After asking if he could use my boogie board, I did what any good aunt would do and told him to be careful. In the innocence that only a child can have, he looked at me as serious as can be and said, “It’s okay. I’ve got this.” Then he grabbed the boogie board in his left hand, turned to face the water, threw his right hand up high in the air, and shouted, “I AM BATMAN!!” He let out what can only be described as a war cry and took off running into the water…straight into the arms of his daddy. The current was still strong and overpowering, but it didn’t matter because he was safe in the arms of his father.
That image has stayed with me months later. Countless Christians have been operating in their own power, and they’ve run out of strength. They find themselves sitting at the edge of the water, overwhelmed by its sheer enormity and power, and they wonder why God isn’t actively working in their lives. I’ve been there, and I want to encourage you. Turn your eyes onto God. Surrender everything – your hopes, your dreams, your desires, your needs – and let God be God. His plan is so much better than anything you could ever do. Let go of the need to be in control, shout out your war cry of faith, and choose once and for all to believe
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” ~ Hebrews 12:1-3