A portion of a Psalm, somehow connected with David, prayed before, and to, God:
“Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.”
~Psalm 4:1c (NRSV)
Many people, in an inordinate percentage of circumstances, pray to the Lord in their need. There are some, sure, who pray in devotions of praise and thanksgiving, and some that continually intercede, indeed millions for both, but by far the commonest of prayers are the ones sent to God in distress or doubting, and doubting may be the most common of those, especially within the fellowship of believers.
Doubt is as necessary within the sphere of faith—forcing us to decide for or against faith—as fear is necessary in the field of love—if we didn’t feel fear we’d be unlikely to need virtue: loving behaviours. Doubt, though we don’t like it, has a role in making our faith real.
The nature of doubt is circular. Regarding anything we pray for, considering our prayers are unlikely to be answered affirmatively straight away, there’s ample opportunity that the presence of doubt will be accommodated. God may indeed provide such room that we experience doubt.
In an awkward sort of way, this paradox holds: the more doubt we experience the stronger our faith can become, if doubt doesn’t overwhelm our faith in simply contending within the doubt. In other words, doubting is okay. We’re not to be ashamed or feel guilty for doubting. But perhaps wisdom will teach us to come back—within our doubt—to God’s Word, a trusted counsellor, and to pray as we exercise our spiritual muscles of faith.
A Prayer For Doubting
Below is a model prayer, written in the first person, with the word Selah signifying the time to pause and reflect over the words prayed, such that our minds can meditate over the meaning of the words, so that eventually the concepts will sink into our hearts.
Our Father in heaven,
I know of you as a faithful God of all generations, one slow to anger and steadfast in love. I rest in that knowledge, now. Selah.
You know my circumstances better than I do, and you know what I need. Inform my understanding; that is my prayer, this moment. Selah.
Help me to accept the circular nature of doubting—that you bring me back to things yet unlearned for my own good. Selah.
But help me, also, that I might be protected, as Jesus prayed:
“... do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.”
~Matthew 6:13 (NRSV)
Guide me in your ways in acknowledging my ways are far from the best for me. Assist me to own that truth, today. Selah.
Help meet today, to feel your Spiritual Presence with me in this time of trial. I put my faith in you.
In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.