[First of all, let me apologize for all the typos in yesterday's post. I was kind of late leaving for work, so I didn't re-read it before posting. Bad idea! So, hopefully it made sense even with all the mistakes :(. Maybe someday I'll get around to fixing it. Today I will proof read!]
And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible (Mark 10:27).
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you (Matthew 17:20).
The Bible says that if we ask, we shall receive (Matt. 7:7). It also says that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). We know that with God all things are possible, but sometimes life circumstances and situations look pretty hopeless. I have some impossible prayer requests. Some of them are recent. Some of them I've been praying for for a while. Humanly speaking there is NO WAY they can be answered. Humanly speaking, it's hard to believe that God will answer. I'm asking God to do the impossible! That takes a lot of faith. Or does it? Jesus said we only need faith as big as a grain of mustard seed. A seed is not very big. But in that seed there is no room for unbelief.
Unbelief plagues me. I doubt. I question. I hesitate. I think... will God really answer? Will He hear? Will He do what I ask? I try not to doubt. I try to pray in faith believing that God will do what I think is impossible. After all He said He would do it, and He's God; He can do anything! Why do I struggle so much with unbelief? It must be my human nature. I like answers. I like to have things all figured out. I like to know what the finished project is going to look like. Faith is none of these things. Faith is believing and not seeing. Faith is stepping out when the direction is unclear. Faith is trust. Faith is calm and assurance that it WILL work out even though it seems impossible.
I have been trying to pray more with faith. I've been trying not to predict outcomes as much. That only brings discouragement when things don't work out the way I thought they would. I'm trying to believe Mark 10:27 and trust that God WILL do the impossible. But I'm telling you right now, these are some pretty impossible things! Perhaps I will share them with you, and then you'll understand why I struggle with unbelief. Or maybe you'll think I'm crazy for even praying stuff like this.
1. I'm praying that I'll be able to lead someone to the Lord this year.
Not a big deal right? I mean, just go out and find some Joe Blow on the street, share the plan of salvation with him, 1-2-3 pray-after-me, and BOOM... person is saved! Ha... right! Maybe this works for some people, but not for me. I'm shy. I dislike talking to strangers. I sometimes dislike talking to people I know! I struggle even more when it comes to sharing my faith. That takes boldness, and that's not a strong point in my character. You may laugh at that. I know some of my blog posts are pretty bold. But writing is easy. No one talks back to you :). I can say whatever I want, and no one will argue, disagree, or yell at me :). It's great!!! Talking face to face is completely different. I clam up. I get nervous. I fear. I usually just talk about the weather. I'm praying for the impossible.
2. I'm praying that God will double our church attendance.
Sometimes it's hard not to get discouraged when our church doesn't grow. It's VERY easy to be tempted to adopt the pragmatic approach of many evangelical and emerging churches. Especially when you see them all around you, and you see them growing by leaps and bounds! Are we wrong? Are they right? I'm absolutely convinced that the methods of evangelism and the truth my pastor and my church stands for is biblical and is the way of the New Testament church. This idea of do-whatever-it-takes to get people in church (like have rock concerts, throw street parties with alcohol, show movies, and have dances... pragmatism) is nothing more than a ploy of Satan to cause the church to fall away and become weak in its faith. Actually, I'm even more convinced that many of those sitting in these kind of churches at best are weak, carnal Christians, and at worst aren't even saved. Saved is almost a foreign word in Christian vocabulary today. I am grateful for a pastor that stands unashamedly on truth and preaches the whole counsel of God with boldness. That being said, there's not many people who want that approach in the modern church; and thus, our church is small. However, it's not my church, and it's not my pastor's church. It's God's church. I'm praying God will give people a hunger and thirst for holy, separated, obedient, biblical Christianity. I'm praying that God will show Christians the compromise, shallowness, and worldliness of the modern church. I'm praying that God will call people out of the compromise and give them a desire to stand wholly on His Word, not on a seeker-sensitive, culturally relevant, missional, or some other man-centred philosophy of Christianity. I'm praying that God will give us the salvation of many lost souls in our community. Yes, I'm praying for the impossible!
3. I'm praying that those who left our church would come back.
If any of them read my last point (which they probably won't, because it's not likely they read my blog), they'll probably think I hate them and never want them to come back, since the churches some of them attend now are similar to the ones I was speaking against. That's not true at all. I miss them. They were my friends. I think most of them left of silly, non-biblical reasons. Lack of communication, and personality conflicts are not good reasons to leave a church. But, who am I to say their reasons weren't good? Maybe they had good, doctrinal, reasons. Maybe they are stronger Christians now. Unfortunately their lives aren't showing that. I watch them. I see their testimonies. It makes me sad. I still miss them, and wish they would come back. But again, I realize that's not likely. I know we would welcome them with open arms. They probably don't think that. They probably think we would be judgemental and ignore them. We wouldn't, but I doubt they'll ever walk through the door to find out. Grr... there's that doubt again! Yes, I'm praying for the impossible!
4. I'm praying that God will send us someone to help in our youth ministry.
This needs a man! I try to do as much as I can with the youth, but unless I change denominations I can't lead those boys! Even changing denominations doesn't change the fact that it's unbiblical for a woman to teach men. I know many would like to debate that issue, but I Timothy 2:12 is pretty clear if you just read it literally without any preconceived ideas. I'm not going to argue with God on that one. So, I don't teach the teen boys. Biblically, I have to draw that line! But we have four teenage guys in our church, and I have such a burden for them! They need a good leader. They need someone to counsel them. They need someone to take interest in them. Our pastor does a good job, but it sure would be nice to have someone to help him out! I've got the girls covered. I can talk to them, and try to encourage them. I try to encourage the boys too, but the fact is they're not going to listen to me as well as they would listen to a man. I'm praying for the impossible.
5. I'm praying that my brother and his family would go to church.
My brother is not living for the Lord. His family needs to be in church. I'm not even sure if my sister-in-law is saved. She may profess to be a Christian, but my personal feeling is that she is lost. God needs to get a hold of their lives. They have a young son, and soon will have another child. Those children need to learn about Christ! They have no interest in church or the things of the Lord. I'm praying for the impossible.
6. I'm praying that...
I have several really impossible things I'm praying for that are too personal to put on my blog. My Mom already thinks I tell the world too much of my business, so I will use discretion :). These things are SO impossible! In my human thinking there is just no way that they will ever work out! It's the most personal things that I doubt the most about. This is where the unbelief plagues my prayer life. Perhaps if they weren't things that were so personal, so big, so life changing, I would find it easier to have faith. But I believe these are the things that God uses to really test how much we will trust Him. So... I'm really going to try to trust! I'm not going to quit praying... that's what I usually do when I doubt. I'm just going to keep praying, and praying, and praying. God is Almighty and He CAN do anything! So, I'm asking Him to do it! It's impossible! But He is God!
Even in the midst of unbelief God answers prayer! This is a huge encouragement to me. It's almost like God knew we were going to doubt Him, so He gives us this assurance. It's not an excuse to doubt and give up praying, but it is a comfort to know that even in our human frailties God's power is not limited! Mark 9:23-27.
Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.
Jesus healed that man's son that day. Not because the man was a spiritual giant. Not because he had it all together and knew he had the right amount of faith. This man was desperate. He knew his weakness. He knew he was helpless. He knew he didn't believe God enough, and yet he loved his son and desired so much to see him not suffer anymore. In the midst of his helplessness he cried out to God. He simply threw his burden on the Lord and in desperation begs for help. Perhaps our prayers aren't answered because we never get to the point of giving it all up, and giving it to the Lord. I know I have unbelief. I pray desperately that God will give me faith for my impossible prayers!