You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! [John 14:13-14 (NLT)]
“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my disbelief!” [Mark 9:23-24 (NLT)]
Prayer is calling on God’s power; it’s calling on the big guns to fight the battle. When doubt in the efficacy of prayer sneaks in, however, it’s like calling on the big guns but not believing they’re loaded with enough ammunition. I am often like the father in Mark who professed to believe but asked Jesus for more faith. Sometimes the enemy sneaks into my heart and causes me to doubt both the ammunition and God’s aim.
Two scenes from “The War Room,” a movie about a crumbling marriage that is redeemed by prayer, come to mind. Elizabeth, a woman in a troubled marriage, and Miss Clara, a prayer warrior extraordinaire, are walking together when, out of nowhere, a knife-wielding mugger demands their money. As Elizabeth starts to get out her wallet, Miss Clara successfully defies him in the name of Jesus. The next scene shows a frazzled Elizabeth reporting the incident to a rather skeptical policeman while the unruffled Miss Clara enjoys her ice cream. Even the most positive reviews of this movie were somewhat critical of the unreality of those scenes but their inclusion in the movie is relevant. They demonstrate the absolute faith—the total certainty—that is necessary for effective powerful prayer. Facing a knife, Miss Clara had no doubt that she was in God’s hands and that, by calling on Jesus, He would rescue her. As she calmly gobbled both her and Elizabeth’s sundaes, it is obvious she wasn’t surprised by God’s protection. In fact, she confidently expected it, as should we all if we truly believe.
I’m not sure that God wants us to respond to a weapon-waving robber the way Miss Clara did and, since He doesn’t want us testing Him, I wouldn’t suggest deliberately standing in front of a train and expecting Him to stop it. I do think, however, that God wants us to have the kind of faith Clara demonstrated. When we come to Him in prayer, we must have faith enough to put our entire lives in His hands. We must believe that our prayers can actually make a difference. Indeed, prayer is the key to winning battles we can’t win on our own.
When we pray, do we ask with our lips but doubt in our hearts? When we ask, are we surprised when we receive? Father in heaven, I don’t know why I still doubt when you’ve shown me over and over again that my prayers do not fall on deaf ears. I have faith, dear Lord, but please, help me have more!
Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will. [Ben Stein]