Series - Myths of Faith

Myths of Faith #4: God Will Say "Yes" to My Prayer

Read the series so far.

I groaned when I read the first sentences of a WORLD magazine article that appeared last fall: “My husband lost a week’s pay. It must have fallen out of his pocket at the hardware store.” I’d sure hate to be that guy! I don’t even want to think about what losing a week’s pay would do to my family’s budget.

But how does a Christian respond to this kind of problem? What does responding with biblical faith look like? Hopefully, most of us get quickly to where the article’s author did: “My reaction was to pray immediately.” But how should faith shape the prayer? At least four options are available (or some combination of them):

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Myths of Faith #3 - It's Being Sure of What God Will Do

When my dad was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer several years ago, I experienced a faith-collision. On the one hand was the strong likelihood that glioblastoma was going to take his life within two or three years. On the other was the fact that “with God, all things are possible.”

Of course more than one of us asked God to heal Dad. We asked God to use the medications, to lead us to some undiscovered cure, to make surgery more effective than it normally is for this disease.

What collided was my faith in what God could do and my uncertainty about what He would do.

Many teach a perspective on faith that would erase these collisions. They counsel that living by faith means absolute, unwavering trust that God will certainly do some specific thing. He will provide the funding for this project; He will open the door for that new job; He will give the church five new families in the new year; He will heal this disease.

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Myths of Faith #2 - It's About the Amazing and Unexplainable

“If you can explain what is going on, then God isn’t doing it.”

It’s a great sound byte. Several respected Christian leaders have taught it. And it certainly feels true. In many congregations it would be a reliable “amen!” line. However, not only is the statement itself false but it reflects a damaging and unbiblical way of thinking about faith and Christian living.


Just as focusing on the “how much” of faith distracts us from the “what” and “Who” of faith (Myths of Faith #1), so an unbalanced focus on God’s hand in the unexplainable and dramatic distracts us from His very real and powerful activity in the ordinary and every-day. The problem should be fairly easy to see if we take off our “feels true” glasses and put on our “teach me Thy way” lenses instead. The idea that God is only at work in the amazing and unexplainable forces us to accept another conclusion. The sequence goes like this:

  • God is only at work in the extraordinary.
  • By definition, “extraordinary” is what is not happening most of the time in life.
  • Therefore, God is not involved in a meaningful way in my life most of the time.

Tragically, many Christians—including myself, all too often—actually think this way, though more as attitude than as a conscious thought process. And the attitude has devastating results.

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Myths of Faith #1 - You Have to Have Much

Mustard seeds

(Mustard seeds)

Sometimes the most basic topics in Christian teaching are home to the most abundant confusion. Perhaps faith is one of those topics. Several misunderstandings are commonly heard in preaching and teaching on the subject. A short list would include the following:

  • You have to have much faith to experience the power of God.
  • Exercising faith means seeing God’s hand in the dramatic and unexplainable.
  • Healthy faith is believing that God is going to act in a particular way.
  • In prayer, faith is believing that God will certainly grant the request.

Some of these notions have the benefit of superficial biblical support. But if we strip away what “everybody knows” about faith, table our fond sentiments, and look at what Scripture actually says about these ideas, what do we find?

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