Once upon a time, back when I was a young, single mom trying to get my crap car to start, or wishing for money to fall from the sky to get my electricity turned back on or hoping I could make it to the gas station on fumes, I prayed many desperate prayers. I was queen of the desperate prayer, in fact. But my prayers were answered close to never. Which made me think that I didn’t have enough faith. Because if I had enough faith, I could make anything happen. Right?
“Name it and claim it”, some people would say.
“Walk boldly into the throne room and lay hold of your rightful inheritance,” others would advise.
“True belief is the key that unlocks the blessings God has promised his children,” I was told.
“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,” Jesus claims.
So as I moved from crisis to crisis to crisis, I tried really, really hard to have faith. Enough faith. Real faith. Good enough faith. The kind that could move mountains. Or at least help me find change in the couch cushions to buy milk for my toddler right before payday.
I was like a little kid who’s been told that a fairy’s going to die if they stop believing in fairies. “I do believe! I do believe! I do!” I would practically clap my hands and will myself to really, really believe – with absolute certainty – that God would answer my prayer.
In the end, I learned two things. The first is that magic isn’t real. I can’t just really, really believe and say just the right words and make things happen. I’ve heard of people who this works for, but I’m just going to have to chalk that up to the sort of illusions which all so-called-magic relies on.*
The other thing I learned is that my faith isn’t faulty. You see, when you’ve been told that the key to getting God to answer your prayers is having enough faith, unanswered prayers can never be God’s fault. If you get mad at God then he’ll really not ever answer your prayers. Therefor unanswered prayers are always your fault for not having enough faith.
But one day I heard the scripture verse which refers to Jesus as “the author of our faith.” And I had a little revelation. Whatever faith I have – be it big and certain or small and doubtful, has been written – authored – by Jesus. Who can always be trusted. And who does all things perfectly. So my faith, shaky though it sometimes seems, is always just as it should be.
And all those unanswered prayers? Well, that same verse says that along with being the author, Jesus is the “perfecter” of our faith. As hard as it is for me to swallow sometimes, my faith is much more important to Jesus than my car not starting. My car problems will pass one day. (Maybe. I’m still waiting on that one, actually!) But my faith is meant to be carried into eternity.
As much as I would like it if I could simply believe and make things happen by the magical force of my belief, instead I have a faith that doesn’t fail when my car does. Or when my wishes don’t come true. Or when tragedy strikes. Or even when God is no where to be seen. Because Jesus has been using all those unanswered prayers to perfect the faith he’s authored for me.
So if you ever worry whether your faith is strong enough or good enough or big enough, stop. It is. Because Jesus himself is authoring and perfecting it just for you.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith ~ Hebrews 12:2
And all God’s people said – Amen and amen!
*For the record, this is not meant to discount the possibility of being gifted for healing or other seemingly miraculous things. I know a young man who regularly goes into the ER waiting area at local hospitals with a group of friends to pray over people. Most of them end up leaving without seeing a doctor. But that’s a gift given by God for his own purposes, not something which is just our due for putting an “X” next to the Christian check-off box.