Friday, December 18, 2015

Fear and Prayer ............. Parables 367

April 27, 1993

“If there is a God and He runs everything and knows what is going to happen anyway... what is the point of praying?”

So many times this question is answered with reasons why we ought to pray, like: “God commands it,” or “God wants us to fellowship with Him,” or “God chooses to work through the prayers of His people.” They are good reasons but do they answer the question?

Personally, whenever I wonder if there is any point in praying, I’m not looking for reasons why I should. I know that already. What is really happening is that inside, I am beginning to question if God actually is in control. And if He is, it doesn’t seem that He cares about me.

Jesus’ disciples wondered the same things. On one occasion, He told them to get into a boat because they were “going to the other side” of the sea of Galilee. On their way across, He fell asleep.

Soon a storm whipped across the water. As winds increased, these seasoned fishermen became anxious. Buckets in hand, they no doubt bailed as fast as they could but the wind and the waves continued to rise. Needing all hands on deck, someone lurched to the stern and woke Jesus, demanding, “Master, don’t you care if we perish?” (Mark 4:38).

Jesus stood up. He looked out over the raging water then gave this order, “Peace, be still!” The storm immediately obeyed.

Before they had time to say a word, Jesus turned and also rebuked the twelve. “Why are you so fearful? how is it that you have such little faith?”

After all, Jesus did tell them they would go to the other side, not launch out and die in the sea. Apparently they didn’t believe Him. At least if they did, their faith took a drastic dip when the storm came up and it looked like they wouldn’t make it.

That happens to me too. Even though Jesus promised to take me through life safely, sometimes it turns into a squall and I get scared. Soon I’m wondering if He not only forgot about me but doesn’t care if I go under. Has He fallen asleep?

When I cry out with my “little” faith, Jesus rebukes me as well, not for crying out to Him but for failing to believe that He cares.

Thinking otherwise is a lie that slanders the very character of God. The roots of this kind of unbelief go back to Eve and the serpent (Satan in disguise) in Genesis. When the snake suggested God was not interested in Eve’s good and that He didn’t care about her, she believed his lie and disobeyed God. Later on, the Israelites wandered forty years in the wilderness because they also doubted His goodness.

Believing God loves us and wants to bless us is a fundamental quality of faith. “Anyone who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

When we are certain God loves us and rewards us for seeking Him, prayer is a delight. Yes, He already knows about our problems, trials, loneliness and fears. He, more than any caring friend, simply longs we share these with Him. When we do, He never accuses us or make us feel foolish because we are afraid of life. Instead, He regards our prayers for His help as a demonstration of our faith.

At least the disciples’ little faith was large enough that they went to him with their fears about the blustery problem at hand. For most of us, “little faith” means we don’t go to Him at all.

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