by Lois Tverberg
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, `Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” – Mark 11:22-24
This statement is a real struggle for many of us. Some people tell those who are in crisis that it is only when they have enough belief that a miracle will happen that God will perform it for them. So many hurting hearts have been crushed by a statement that their faith is too weak for God to answer their prayers. How can it be that by sheer force of our imagination that we can force God’s hand in one direction?
I had an answer a few years ago in a relatively minor crisis. A little cat of mine who was very shy got loose one day when I was out of town. When I returned home, Raisin had been lost for several days, starving, unable to come back because of her skittishness around people. I remember begging the Lord to bring her home.
As I was praying for her, I started wondering if I was supposed to have perfect faith in the idea that I’d get my cat back in order for God to answer my prayer. Then it hit me that the faith that we are supposed to have is not in the outcome, but in God himself. God wants us to be absolutely convinced of his love for us and in his power and desire to take care of us.
So my prayer changed. I said, “Lord, I know that you are good and that you have heard my prayer, and I can trust your answer to my prayer, whether or not you bring Raisin back.” The emphasis shifted from the cat to the fact that God was good, and that I could always trust that.
It was a true surprise when Raisin was rescued a few days later in a seemingly miraculous way, when my neighbor found her curled up in the engine compartment of her car, dirty, gaunt, and with a paralyzed paw. I know that my prayers did not “earn” her return, and that it was out of sheer grace that God answered in this way.
I’m almost embarrassed to share this story when others struggle with greater needs. But it did teach me that God didn’t really need me to fervently imagine a certain outcome before he would answer a prayer. He is good, powerful and loving, and whatever answer he gave, I could still be assured of this most important fact of all.