We have been told if we want anything badly enough, proclaim it loudly enough, and boldly pray without the least bit of doubt, we can speak into existence anything we desire. Name it and claim it we are told. There is power in the tongue. My friends. this is spiritual nonsense!
Additionally, we have been told if we come to God and ask for his assistance, but have doubting and skeptical hearts, we will not be heard. We are told God will not answer our good prayers due to our bad lack of faith. However, this too is spiritual nonsense, and the contrary can be seen in the following passage of Scripture:
Acts 12:1–17 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell these things to James and to the brothers.” Then he departed and went to another place.
In this story, Peter has been arrested, and a church prayer meeting has been called. We are not told the subject matter of their prayers, but undoubtedly they are interceding for Peter and asking God to save their friend from the hostile hands of Herod. However, these worshipers lack faith; they are not really expecting God to answer their prayers.
Yet, despite their weak faith, God does answer their prayer. Peter is touched by an angel, released from prison, and taxied to the house of prayer. But when he arrives, those in prayer prove their skeptical and doubting condition. They are praying for God to save their friend, but when the servant girl alerts them to Peter’s presence, they respond with, “You are out of your mind.”
Therefore friends, we should find this encouraging. Let us not wait to pray until we have sufficient faith. Jesus told his disciples that faith — as small as a mustard seed — was is very powerful and effective. Such small faith could even be used by God to move mountains. And as we see in this passage, skeptical prayer answered by God is part of his means of increasing the faith of his children. Those with little faith find they have greater faith after God answers their faithless prayers.
So let us bring our prayers of adoration to God. Let us meditate on God’s attributes and his history so that our faith might be improved. Let us pray through Scripture and learn to doubt him less.
And let us bring our petitions before him. Let us ask for anything our hearts desire knowing he will never answer “no” or “yes” when it is harmful to his plan and our improvement.
Then, let us offer our prayers of confession as well. Let us converse with him about our weak faith and skeptical attitude. Let us confess our sin of disbelief and plead the assistance of the Holy Spirit in granting us more faith and further sanctifying us.
Then finally, let us be ready to engage in thanksgiving. Answered prayer is a gracious gift, and quite often God gives his children that which they do not deserve.