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Prayer and Doubt

We often wonder how we can be sure that when we communicate with God we are actually talking to God and not merely to ourselves. Could it be only our over-active imagination that attributes to God what is really generated by our own mind? This is a question asked even by the most religiously faithful. We want to believe there is a God who is listening and responding to our needs, but we have a niggling fear that we may be as deluded as a thirsty prospector who believes there is water in an endless sea of hot desert sand.

The core of active faith is to trust even when we’re not sure, even when it seems impossible or improbable, even when the evidence doesn’t support it. There will always be times when we are certain we are praying to a God who hears, and there will be times when we are sure we are only talking to ourselves, but active faith calls us simply to keep praying no matter what our doubts or our certainties are. A hiker climbing in the Himalayas doesn’t know if he will reach the summit or if his journey will be in vain. All he can be certain of is that he will never arrive at the top without climbing –putting one foot in front of the other. It is the action of faith (even without proof) that will eventually get us to our destination.

There is no proof that when we pray, we pray to God and not our own selves. But, it is certain that if we stop praying, the God for whom we search will always feel out of reach.

Tip to try:
The next time you wonder if there is any value in praying, just notice, without any judgment or shame, the emotions that push through your soul. Then take 5 minutes to read Mark 9: 17-27. After reading, simply let your soul repeat, “Lord, I believe; but help my unbelief.”

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