A few hours after I had praised God for answered prayer, I was questioning why I ever believed my prayers were answered. It’s sometimes like that, isn’t it? We have our “high” and then we plummet. Then we get discouraged.
And please, don’t “correct” me with “God always answers prayers with “yes”, “no”, and “not now”. Let’s quit with the platitudes. Many Christians spout things they never even think about. They’ve heard someone else say it or they think they should say it to look “spiritual”. Jesus had a few words to say about the hypocrites who were doing the exact same thing.
Can we please quit doing that? Of course, I believe in answered prayer. I wouldn’t pray if I didn’t. But let’s also remember that God’s plans and purposes are often quite different from ours so answered or unanswered prayers isn’t even the issue at times.
I’ve studied the “greats” of the faith for years, wonderful preachers/authors like Spurgeon, Dallas Willard, E.M. Bounds, Andy Stanley, Beth Moore, Hannah Whitall Smith, J I Packer, Stowell, Phillip Yancy, Oswald Chambers–I’m not trying to impress you. I just want you to understand that I’ve done my homework, my “spiritual” homework. I’ve read what smarter and more spiritual people than I have said. All of them, let me repeat, all of them share their doubts, their humanity. They write humbly and from the heart.
But recently I picked up a book by Watchman Nee and another by Dallas Willard (Renovation of the heart) that have struck me to the core. I’ve often mentioned how I have to read books by Dallas Willard over and over again. In fact I found this on Amazon that I got a big kick out of because this would be the description of any book I have by Willard:
These two books are blowing me away. I feel like I haven’t been getting “it” right at all.
But as I took my walk tonight, I was reminded of what I read this morning and want to share it with you. These words made me realize that my feelings and my faith need to be separate at times.
(In fact, I would love it if some of you would read one of these books with me so we could discuss the portions that I’m finding hard to process. Any takers out there?)
God aims to help His children overcome their environment. A Christian should not allow his surroundings to change his life. He whose path is altered by the influences of environment is not deeply experienced in the Lord. We have learned already that what can affected by environment is emotion. It is when our emotion is influenced by environment that our lives undergo change. How imperative therefore for us to conquer emotion.
From Dallas Willard:
People almost always act on their feelings and think it only right. The will then is left at the mercy of circumstances that evoke feelings. Christian spiritual formation today must confront this fact and overcome it.
At first reading, these don’t sound so complicated but think about it in terms of your own life. How well are you doing keeping your emotions from interfering with your faith while at the same time keeping your emotions IN your faith?
As I walked tonight, I thought about these statements and decided I was having no more of it. No more letting my emotions determine my faith. No matter how sad, bad, joyful, or good I’m feeling, my faith remains steadfast and sure. When I doubt whether my prayers are being answered or not, I will not allow those doubts to plummet my emotions or my faith.
Does any of this make sense to you?
Anyway, I hope some of will consider reading these two books.
God bless and have a good day.