The simplicity of belief

math, equations, complicated

I don’t think faith is supposed to be this complicated.

God is not complicated.

Now, before I am charged with irreverence or blasphemy, let me qualify those words. While our God is incomprehensible (Job 11:7-9), unsearchable (Romans 11:33) and beyond reason (Isaiah 55:8), he reveals Himself with simplicity and clarity.

The testimony of Scripture is that God is clearly seen in His creation (Psalm 19:1-6, Romans 1:18-20), so much so that one would be a fool to reject the notion of the divine (Ps. 53:1). Jesus’ identity as Israel’s Messiah and the Son of God was far from ambiguous, evidenced by his unique ministry of miracles (John 10:36-38, 14:11) and eventual resurrection from the dead (John 2:19).

The complication that we may experience in our walk of faith, I suggest, is solely on our end.

Think about it.

After Jesus had fed the 5,000 with two fish and five barely loaves, he sends his disciples ahead to Bethsaida by boat. Having dismissed the vast crowds of people and after spending the night in prayer, he makes his way toward the disciples just before daybreak (without a boat). Struggling to advance on the lake because of a strong wind, the disciples cried out in terror at the skewed sight of Jesus walking on the lake.

Mark, then, records, “Immediately [Jesus] spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:50b-52).

Oftentimes, our hardness of heart can contribute to our lack of understanding; “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7b). When God speaks to us, He does so in a way that is completely attainable to us. What this requires, though, is receptivity to the voice of God.

When His words are distorted by human wisdom and empty philosophy, that’s when the complication comes. Proverbs 21:30 posits, “No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the LORD” (ESV).

One of the things I believe we may have complicated is prayer. Instead of coming to God as children would a father (Matthew 7:9-11), we can sometimes treat prayer like a combination lock—having to put the right “code” in order to achieve our desired result.

While the temptation may remain to “say the right thing” when we go before God, I would like to solicit an alternative. Psalm 139:4 declares, “Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.” Matthew 6:7-8 adds, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Not only does God know what we will say before we say it, but He knows what we need before we even ask. So what does God require?

The only thing God requires is a heart that is full of faith, faith in the name of Jesus. To be sure, we have a relationship with the Father only through Jesus (1 John 2:23). Christ, then, makes it clear that the way to the Father (John 14:6) is also the name in which we should cast our confidence before the throne of God (14:13-14).

Through Jesus, we now have the privilege of having the same relationship he had with the Father while he walked the earth. This is evidenced, fittingly, in the context of prayer. Jesus is cited in Scripture as using the term “Abba” while conversing with the Father (Mark 14:46), which we also cry out in concert to the Father with the Spirit of his Son (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6).

Our relationship with God, though, begins and is maintained by faith. Hebrews 11:6 offers, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

What we should we concentrate on is having hearts full of faith in God, not necessarily sounding a certain way when we pray. When Jesus addressed a group of people who had this formula backwards his commentary was, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Matt. 15:8).

On the contrary, sometimes our prayers do not even require words, as God is able to search both our hearts and minds (Jeremiah 17:10, Revelation 2:23). Twice in Matthew 9, Jesus administered healing to people merely on the basis of their faith (v. 2-7, 20-22). In 1 Samuel 1:13, the bible says of Hannah that she was “praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard.”

I think our biggest take away should be that prayer is not some religious exercise we practice in order to convince God to have pity on us. Rather, prayer is a posture of the heart, denoting dependence on and confidence in our Heavenly Father.

There may be some mysterious things about prayer, and rightfully so, but one thing is certain: “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence” (Ephesians 3:12 NLT).


~ by christianballenger on September 28, 2013.

One Response to “The simplicity of belief”

  1. […] He truly gives wisdom to those who ask, and desires that we would not come to him with a prepared script, but with a prepared […]

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