Stunted Faith

Yesterday I wrote God’s Delay on Answering Prayers is no Delay , and discussed that when we pray mightily over something we want, and God seems to be procrastinating on the answers to those prayers, it doesn’t mean that His delay is a mistake.  The more I thought about that, the more a new concept came to life for me. Do we stunt answers to our prayers thinking we know better?  Yes God, I want you to answer this prayer but you really have to go about it THIS WAY!  Do we expect answers with only partial faith?

The concept of our expectations from God and how often they intermingle with our incomplete trust in Him floored me as I examined Lazarus’ death closer.

In the death of Lazarus, his sisters’ (Mary and Martha) discuss their frustration with Jesus that He had shown up too late to heal their dying brother.

 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:21

Martha didn’t quite get what Jesus meant when He said to her:  “Your brother will rise again” 11:23. She thought Jesus was referring to the end of time resurrection.  Yet her words show she expected Jesus to do something about her brother’s death when she said,

“But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 11:22

When Jesus asked that the stone be removed from Lazarus’ tomb, her faith faltered. She wondered what on earth Jesus could possibly be up to.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” 11:39

My translation: “What. Are. You. Doing. Jesus?”

That’s just like us.  We expect God to do something, but when He steps outside of our realm of understanding, we don’t trust what He’s doing and question Him. Often panicking in the process.

Though it was clear, by her statement in verse 11:22, that Martha expected Jesus to do something, and we know it had to be something big, she was appalled at the way He was going about it.

What she expected we aren’t told. Perhaps she expected it all to go in some kind of glorious way where a risen Lazarus would materialize in front of her. The Bible tells us that Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were close friends of Jesus so surely they had witnessed untold miracles.

How many times do we expect God to do something for us, in the lives of loved ones, or in the lives of our friends, then panic when He moves unlikely stones and works in unexpected ways?

“What. Are. You. Doing. Jesus?”

“You’re going about this all wrong!”

“This is not what I expected!”

“No, no, no. That ain’t happening!”

We are stunned at Martha’s statement, “But, Lord, … by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” 11:39,  but would we have reacted differently?

Spoiler alert:  Jesus did do SOMETHING big.  Really, really BIG!  He called the 4 day dead Lazarus from the tomb, and Lazarus rose from the dead fully alive, all stink gone!  You’ll find the full story in the Bible book of John 11:1-44

I wonder if incomplete faith is one of the reasons our prayers don’t get answered more often. Do we stunt miraculous answers to our prayers with our set-in-stone expectations and with our wishy-washy faith?

What do you think?

By ~ Elizabeth Yalian 2013-2015 ©


Filed under Awed by His Love and Grace, Faith, Following Christ Has Changed My Life, Life Lessons, The Miraculous

6 responses to “Stunted Faith

  1. I have always struggled with this because I do cut God short, trying to make things happen faster. I pray constantly about my daily life, but keep moving forward as if I do Not move my feet, how would I know if I am going in the right direction?

    • Kay, I believe we all try to hurry God, then get frustrated when things don’t turn out our way. The fact that you pray constantly about your daily life is a huge plus! God is always active around us but in our daily busyness we tend to over look his work. The only thing I can say is to ask Him to show you where He is at work directly in your life or around you, and what He would like you to do next for Him. I can’t tell you how many times I have asked God what He can do for me but scripture clearly tells us that it’s all about Him and His work so I’m beginning to reverse my perspective. God directs us through His word, through prayer, through circumstances, and through others, especially other Christ followers, and this direction often comes through a combination of these. Here’s an example, I have a friend, almost 60, who needs to change career at this late stage in his life and has been terribly frustrated about finding a job at his age. After he shared his frustration with his wife they both began praying for God to direct him in this area. Within days he ran into another friend who’s the same age. This friend told him about his new job and how much he likes it. My friend started asking questions and found it was a local job that preferred seasoned workers because of their life experience, and that they were hiring. My friend is in the process of filling out a resume and will be applying for this job. I pray he gets the job. I always find it interesting when I am struggling with a particular thing and I bring it to God in heartfelt prayer to see the way God brings about answers. And then, there are times God is just silent for a while also. If you like to read, Henry Blackaby’s book, “Experiencing God” has excellent advice on understanding when we are going the right way. I hope this helps!

  2. The Lord never answers our prayers our way, He does it His way and better!

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