I recently made another one of my iPod playlists available as a note on Facebook. As an introduction to my latest playlist, I commented that I always seek the clean, edited versions of a song for my musical consumption. I added that if such a version were not available that I would use some editing software that I have to make my own. On the playlist I just provided, I included the song, “Breakeven” by an indie Irish group called, “The Script.” Within that song, the singer laments lost love and mentions that he prays to a God he does not believe in. I debated what to do with that line, which is repeated once more at the end of the song. Would I give it the same treatment that I would other questionable content within a song? In other words, would I give it a place on my digital cutting room floor? In the end, I decided to let the line stand. I will endeavor to explain why I would leave something that smacks of such irreverence in place.
I leave such a lyrical statement in place because it made me aware of something sad and disgraceful; namely, I have often prayed to a God that I don’t believe in. Now, before any of you begin limbering up your fingers to type me a lengthy and loving rebuke, let me clarify my statement. It is actually quite Biblical. Note James 1:5-8.
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, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (NASB)
Whenever I have given my petition to God without expecting His gracious and providential response, I have prayed to a God that I don’t believe in. Why? I am “unstable” man who doubts and lacks faith.
I am not alone in my transgression. I have heard other Christians pray about something and then have heard them continue to vocalize their doubts about the very thing for or about which they prayed! Let me offer you a few scenarios to mull over.
- You are wondering about how to share the Gospel with your lost friend. You don’t know where to begin. You are not a good personal worker. However, you are mindful of your responsibility and have at least the intention of doing what is right. Therefore, you pray to God for wisdom and the opportunity to be His representative on earth. Later in the week, the opportunity you have sought presents itself providentially but you remain silent. You remain silent because you fear that you will say the wrong thing and that, despite your personal study, you just are not ready. Friends, you have prayed to a God that you don’t believe in! When you asked for wisdom, you should have trusted in His ability to provide since He promises to do so. You likewise expressed doubt in the power and efficacy of His word which is what He designed and provided to do the very job of converting lost souls (cf. Romans 1:16).
- You are facing financial difficulties from which you pray to receive relief. Yet, every time you see a new bill or you hear “a sound” in your automobile, you begin biting your finger nails just expecting that things are going to get worse and that you will be unable to live and meet your financial obligations. Have you forgotten that God promises to take care of His children? In Matthew 6, He promises through His Son to add those things to one’s life which are needful. The only condition that He places upon us is that we seek His Kingdom and righteousness first (Matthew 6:33). You are praying to a God you don’t believe in when you pray for that relief but then worry. It may be that you need to take some steps to fix the problem on your end, such as removing unnecessary expenditures adding to your burden. You might even have to put forth a more concerted effort to find new employment in this bad economy or simply trust the entrepreneurial instincts that God may have given you as one of your talents. However, God owns the world and reminded us that in everything He is able to do more for us than we ask or think (cf. Ephesians 3:20). There is, therefore, no reason for us to doubt Him and live in perpetual anxiety.
- You have experienced the breakdown of an interpersonal relationship with a friend or family member. You prayed that God might help you reconcile the relationship. After saying this prayer, though, you continue to nurse those negative emotions. You keep rewinding and replaying what he or she said to you over and over in your mind. You think about how mad or sad he or she made you. Rather than talking to the one who has hurt you, you go, instead, to a third party and gossip about the person with whom you claim that you want to restore your relationship. You go everywhere except where you need to, to the very person with whom you are having these problems. The reconciliation process is laid out for us quite nicely in Matthew 18:15-18. It is a matter of having the faith and trust to put it into practice. Sadly, though, we have shown ourselves rather as the one who prays to a God in Whom we do not believe.
It is easier to do than we care to admit, isn’t it? Each and every one of us have at one point or another prayed to a God in Whom we do not believe. It is my prayer, now, that this is simply because we have yet to reach the level of spiritual maturity of which it is possible for us to attain or that it was simply a momentary lapse of judgment in our spiritual journey. I trust that if this is true of you, then this article has served its purpose so that you will believe in God and trust Him fully when you pray to Him. None of us need pray to a God that we don’t believe in.