Can Our View of God Destroy Our Faith in Prayer?

Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5: 17-18

I think for many Christians, myself included, prayer can be a struggle.  If you glance at some of the more well-known scriptures concerning prayer, even the Bible appears to provide conflicting information on the subject.  In Luke 11:9, Jesus clearly states,  “And I say unto you, Ask and it shall be given you, seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

But, what about those times we don’t receive that for which we have asked…and asked…and asked…and even asked? What then?  When I was spiritually parched, unanswered prayer left me feeling empty and confused.  I often wondered, “What is the point of prayer if it isn’t answered?” Why should I bother if God is going to do what he wants regardless of what I pray?

What I didn’t bother to ask was this: who was I praying to in the first place? What was my picture of God? Was it accurate?  Was I praying to the holy, wise, and caring God of the Bible, or was I praying to a God of my own creation? Was it, perhaps, a mixture of both?


I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest that the state of our prayer life is dictated by our view of God.  If I enter into prayer thinking of God as some kind of wish-granting, mystical being, I will be disappointed when the genie lamp runs dry.  On the other hand, if I only see him as a distant, uncaring God, I will avoid prayer altogether and face life’s battles alone. It is only when I have a scripturally accurate view of God that I can see the value of a dedicated, on-going prayer life regardless of outcomes.

Of course, this all sounds well and good, but how do we reach that goal? In my case, it meant destroying my shallow, distorted view of God so I could finally see clearly the wise and just God of the Bible.


As most of us do in the early days of our faith, I had an immature understanding of what “relationship with God” actually meant. I had been saved, baptized, and joined a church.  So, I was good to go! I thought, wrongly, that as long as I attended church, tithed, and didn’t commit any of the “really big sins” everything would be rosy and bright.  I was, after all, a child of God now, surely this meant spiritual, physical, and financial blessings would abound and trouble would keep its distance. Life’s tribulations and tragedies were for other people, not us.  It really wasn’t terribly necessary to lock yourself away in your prayer closet or to pray without ceasing.  Everything would just flow…right?

Wrong.  So very, very wrong.  There is nothing in the Bible that states we will receive immunity to difficulty in life, regardless of how faithful we are in our walk with the Lord. In fact, Jesus says quite the opposite in John 16:33: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulations: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” 

However, in my misguided, lackadaisical early days of faith, I bought into the idea that God had, indeed promised me a rose garden as long as I behaved. Surely, that was in the scriptures somewhere.  Although, how would I know? I barely read the Bible at this point.

Another issue that muddied the waters, was that the church I attended veered dangerously close to preaching “prosperity theology.”  The church was certainly not responsible for all of my prayer problems, however, this preaching can reinforce the notion that life will be a breeze as long as you do a, b, c, and d.

Today, I understand this is a scripturally inaccurate and spiritually immature view of God.  It is also a dangerous view because guess what happens when tragedy and hard times inevitably enter your life? Your “faith” crumbles into dust, and your view of God becomes even more warped.


Many years ago, whilst I still saw God as some sort of Santa Claus, I experienced the sudden and unexpected death of someone close.  This incident involved my former husband’s family, so I won’t share a great amount of detail.

On a normal, “business as usual” Saturday night many years ago,  I sat at the dining room table eating dinner with this young family member and listening as they told corny jokes.  Sunday morning, this person was gone.  That was it. No warning, no expectation, nothing.  It was an event that completely changed my outlook on life and my view of God.

Because I held such a shallow, untethered view of who God was at the time and had an undeveloped relationship with him, I had nothing to cling to when faced with the tremendous weight of this shock. There was no firm ground to root myself in or to draw strength from.  Instead, I felt empty, scared, and lost as I tried to make sense of it all.

I managed to keep up the faith facade for a while, but inside I knew this was serious.  I was afraid. My genie-God had morphed into a cruel and sadistic god much like those portrayed in the 1980’s movie Clash of the Titans.  I envisioned him sitting upon his throne, shrouded in mist, with an enormous chessboard stretched out in front of him, smiling as he indiscriminately moved human chess pieces from one season of turmoil to the next all for his personal amusement.

There was definitely no hiding from it – I was in a full-blown crisis of faith.  During this time, I never quit talking to God in some way or form, but it was not what I’d necessarily call prayer.  It was often conversations and hand-written letters, some angry, others anguished but all tainted with confusion and fear.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.   Jeremiah 29:11


I wish I could tell you my complete collapse of faith was short-lived, but it wasn’t.  (Are they ever though, to be fair?) I was stuck in this spiritual desert for at least 15 years. It took that long, and many more ups and downs, to demolish my weak, shallow view of God’s character and to replace it with the truth.

Today, I am confident that God is who he says he is. When I look back on my personal “wilderness journey,” I can see that although I collapsed, God did not leave me.  He was paying attention to those anguished conversations and angry letters. While my sight was obstructed by grief, anger, depression, and despair, God was still quietly at work bringing the healing I needed to see him clearly.   If He hadn’t been, I wouldn’t be writing this post today.

You see, the reality of this Christian life is that God never promised me, or you, that rose garden.  We live in a fallen world.  We have free will – bad, horrible things will happen.  Prayers will seemingly go unanswered, but still we must continue to pray. It deepens our relationship with God; the more we pray, the more we will hear him – not in some loud, booming voice, but through the quiet, still assurance of the Holy Spirit. Through prayer, we can access that peace which surpasses all understanding – a peace we need every day but especially when we can’t understand the reasons why.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are you ways my ways, saith the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

Not My Will

I think we also forget an important caveat when we struggle with prayer:  we are to pray that God’s will be done, not ours.

In Luke 11:2, before he ever mentions anything about “ask and ye shall receive,” Jesus gives us the Lord’s Prayer as a framework for how we should pray. If you’ve done much reading on the subject, you’ve undoubtedly heard this before, but it is worth hearing again. The prayer that Jesus recited states, “THY Kingdom come, THY WILL be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is not MY will.

For some of us, relinquishing our own will in prayer is a very real, and probably constant, challenge. However, if we at least have an accurate picture of who God is, we can better accept his will because we know that ultimately God wants what’s spiritually best for us.


We can also find some comfort in remembering that even Jesus struggled with accepting his Father’s will.  In Luke 22:41-42, Jesus asked to be released from this unimaginable burden he’d been given of bearing the sins of the world.  Yet, ultimately and even though he fully understood what it meant for him, Jesus followed his own teaching and prayed that not his will, but his Father’s be done.

And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.”  Luke 22:41-42


Taking a close and honest look at how we see God is the first step in building a meaningful prayer life.  Of course our view of God is going to affect how we pray, why we pray, and our expectations of prayer.  If we see God as Santa Claus, we will always be disappointed and spiritually stunted.  If we see him as a distant, uncaring god with no interest in relationship with us, we will feel hopeless and lost.  If, on the other hand, we see him as the caring and forgiving God that he is, prayer will become a time of quiet communication through which we build a stronger, personal relationship with a God who is our comforter and hope not only when things don’t go our way, but for an entire lifetime.

Surviving the Down Days: Faith

Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.  In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul. ◊ Psalm 94:17-18 ◊

A friendly disclaimer: I am neither scholar nor theologian, but I will be sharing my personal experiences with faith, Christianity, and depression in this post.

If you are not a person of faith, this post may be of no interest to you.  Or maybe it will, depending upon your willingness to keep an open mind and ignore the voices that tell you God cannot be real.  I don’t know.  You are free to make that determination for yourself.

You have been warned!

When I was ensnared in the depths of my major depression, I struggled to maintain what little bit of my faith remained. After experiencing a life-altering event, severe depression, and, perhaps, some slightly questionable preaching, my faith was completely shattered.

In this post, I would like to share three tips that helped me stay connected to God even as I experienced my crisis of faith. It’s been a long road and my journey is not complete, but I am thankful that God is true to his word – he did not abandon me; he did not forsake me.

I hope that these tips can help those who may be struggling to keep their faith as they work at defeating the destructive force that is depression.

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Christians- What a Bunch of Idiots (Part II)

GOD IS JUST A PLACEBO.  He is the ultimate sugar pill for those who fear their own mortality. He is a false comfort to people who cannot accept that death is our only final end.  God is a man-made creation designed to placate those of us who cannot accept that the world and all who inhabit it are mere accidents of nature. God brings false comfort to the psychologically weak and intellectually unsophisticated. He is a crutch for cowards who blindly relinquish control of their lives to a mythical, judgmental, man-made being. The joke is, in the end, on the Christian.

At the risk of sounding jaded, I’ve heard it all before.  The assumption that faith is merely a placebo isn’t new although, in my opinion, it seems the assumption of someone who either hasn’t spent much time with a Christian or who is painfully oblivious to the judgmental plank in their own eye.

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Struggling with Church Attendance

Yesterday was Sunday – another Sunday that came and went without us attending any church service.  Every week my husband and I insist we will get to church come hell or high water (perhaps a poor choice of words here), yet when Sunday rolls around, there we sit at home like two immovable, unmotivated objects.

It is quite apparent that each of us, for different reasons, suffers from a lack of motivation when it comes to regular church attendance.  My husband simply enjoys his sleep after a long, busy work week, but, he will get up in time as long as I remind him.  Therein lies part of the problem – he leaves it up to me and I am probably the least motivated out of the two of us. Occasionally, I have asked him to make sure I get dressed and out of the house on a Sunday morning, but if you’ve ever tried to motivate the supremely unmotivated, especially in the morning, I’m sure you can deduce how well that worked.

I am typically up in plenty of time to make it to church; however, I just don’t wake with a sense of joy at the thought of leaving my comfy cave home and mingling with people I don’t really know.  It would be more accurate to say I wake with a sense of dread, particularly as our church still favors the old practice of greeting and shaking hands with someone you don’t know. I find this whole endeavor quite disagreeable.  We are all there together, worshiping under one roof, sitting in close proximity on uncomfortable pews, isn’t that good enough? Can’t we “fellowship” without having to actually forcibly socialize or shake hands with strangers?  I sometimes challenge myself to see exactly how many people I can avoid during the appointed greeting time.  I know that is not a Christian attitude which is usually why my husband stands a few feet away from me just in case the lightning bolt strikes.

Despite my curmudgeonly attitude towards the social aspect of church attendance, I feel much better when I do attend and I feel guilty when I don’t.  I know God does not necessarily inspire guilt – perhaps it is more a sense of conviction?  Whatever the feeling is, I don’t enjoy it.  Yet, it hasn’t been enough to pry me from my home over the past month.  So what do I do? Why is this such a chore for me?

In a previous life, I was a full-fledged member of a large “charismatic” church and rarely missed a service.  I was involved in many activities and even attended Bible studies.  Then life happened, things fell apart, and I had a bit of a spiritual crisis.  This led to much reflection upon the teachings of this particular church which, in turn, led to an intense questioning and doubting of my faith in general.  It took me a good five years before I returned to church even on a “sometimes” basis.

Although I’m not quite where I’d like to be in this journey, I have since resolved most of my spiritual crisis and the questions raised by the teachings of the charismatic church. Today, my problem seems to be a combination of easily rectified excuses issues for which I need to take responsibility.  I definitely have become more selfish with my time; if I’m honest, it has become an idol of sorts which is not a good thing.  I have also become lazy in my relationship with the Lord in general, not just church.  I haven’t engaged in real prayer time or Bible study in over a year, again because I’m doing more important things with my time like browsing the web and watching YouTube.  Admitting this only adds to my frustration because I know that I cope much better with life when I have quiet time.  I’m essentially just shooting myself in the foot by not doing it.

There are some who may suggest that my lack of desire to attend church shows a lack of faith or connection with God’s word or will.  I know that while church doesn’t save us we do need some fellowship with other believers. If I know this and yet still choose to stay away from church, does that mean I’m not as committed to my faith as someone who attends church regularly?  Perhaps it does.  Others may argue it is because I have no one to whom I am accountable, that is also possible.  In my previous church home, I had several people who held me accountable for attending services – people who would question if I didn’t show up. I’m not sure this is the best way to get someone to church as there is a fine line between doing something out of accountability and doing something out of fear of judgement, but at least I was there.

Sometimes I wonder if going to church should just become a habit even though I think that word has a negative connotation when referencing your spiritual life. A habit is an act you engage in as routine, almost unconsciously, without much thinking.  Is this how I should approach church attendance? Maybe the act of going to church and getting there should be a habit as long as you are fully engaged once you arrive?

All of the reasons I have listed thus far are fairly easy to correct if I put my mind to it.  The only legitimate issue I might be able to cite for my lack of motivation is our church’s service structure.  Although my former church was on the verge of spreading some dodgy theology, I did become accustomed to its more upbeat and teaching styled services.  The one complaint I have about our current church is that the pastor reads to us quite a bit and, in my opinion, there’s not a lot of actual preaching going on.  I prefer to be taught; to be provided useful, Biblical concepts that I can take with me, mull over, and apply to everyday life.

Again, despite the long list of excuses, it is ultimately my responsibility to get myself to church.  If I don’t feel fed at our current church, then that needs to be addressed with my family.  If I feel I can still learn something there, then I need to work on actually getting there on a regular basis.   I don’t feel the need to join a church officially (been there, done that),  but I understand that fellowship is important.  It’s very easy to get caught up “in the world” without that weekly contact with like-minded individuals.

What is shameful about all of this is that while I apparently have no motivation for God on a Sunday morning, I can certainly muster up the motivation for a trip to the mall.  Jesus suffered such pain and anguish during his time on earth so that we may know Him – it is kind of pathetic that I can’t dedicate one hour each week to the church for which he sacrificed so greatly during his lifetime.


Do you attend church regularly? Do you have any secrets or suggestions for making it to church every week?

Do you ever struggle with your motivation to attend church? If so, how do you overcome that?