Gary Zimak is the author of several books, including A Worrier’s Guide To The Bible, From Fear To Faith, Stop Worrying & Start Living and Give Up Worry For Lent. He is a frequent speaker at parishes and conferences across the country and is recognized as the leading Catholic speaker on the topic of overcoming anxiety. In addition, Gary is a regular guest on EWTN TV & Radio, the host of The Gary Zimak Show podcast on Breadbox Media and was the creator and host of Spirit In The Morning which aired on Holy Spirit Radio in Philadelphia from 2016-2018. For more information, visit his website FollowingTheTruth.com.
Without giving it too much thought, we place our confidence in various individuals every day. When I board a plane, I trust that the airline pilot knows how to fly and intends to take me to my desired destination. As I approach an intersection, I trust that the other drivers will stop if the light is red. When I take my blood pressure medicine in the morning, I trust that the pharmacist put the correct pills in the container. Interesting to think about, isn’t it? There are dozens of occasions each day when we choose to place our confidence in people we don’t really know. Essentially, we trust that they will do what they are supposed to do. As long as it’s not extreme or irresponsible, a certain amount of trust is necessary to get by in life. Now, here’s something to think about. When you pray, how confident are you that God will hear and answer your prayers?
Does It Really Matter?
At one time or another, we have all struggled (or will struggle) to pray with confidence. Is it really that important? Let’s face it, God asks us to believe some pretty unbelievable things. As long as we’re still praying, what difference does it make?
Even though it is very common to lack some degree of trust in God’s providence, we shouldn’t just brush it off. Although it takes time and effort, we can and should do something about it. A lack of confidence in God will eventually cause us to pray less fervently and with less frequency. If we don’t believe that the Lord will respond to our needs, we’ll gradually turn to Him less and less. Ultimately, we could end up abandoning prayer completely.
What about the effectiveness of prayers infused with doubt? Although the Lord understands our weakness and will meet us where we are, St. James stresses the importance of praying with expectation:
But let him ask in faith,with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:6-8)
Why Should We Trust God?
It might sound like a silly question, but it’s one that should be asked and answered. Jesus clearly tells us that our Heavenly Father will provide for our needs (Matthew 6:31-33), but we often ignore His words. It may not be intentional, but every time we worry about the future or attempt to control the uncontrollable, our lack of trust is revealed.
Getting back to the question, why should we have confidence in God? As the saying goes, the number of reasons “would fill a book.” In this case, however, that proverbial “book” does indeed exist! The Bible is filled with many reasons to have confidence in God. The pages of Sacred Scripture reveal that the Lord created the entire universe out of nothing, led His people out of slavery, performed numerous miracles, sent a Messiah to redeem the human race and founded a Church that will last until the end of time. If I had to summarize all of the biblical reasons to have confidence in God, I would say this – He has kept (or is in the process of keeping) every one of His promises. Considering the enormity of some of those promises, that is a very impressive track record!
What Can We Do?
After looking at the facts, it’s entirely possible that you may still not feel that God can be trusted. You may not even believe that He is listening when you pray. Don’t give up. Having confidence in the Lord doesn’t depend on feelings. Trust is an act of the will. You can choose to trust God even when you don’t feel like it. Just like bodily muscles, faith grows through exercise.
When the apostles approached Jesus and asked Him to increase their faith, He responded by saying:
“If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, ‘Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea’ and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:6)
Like the apostles, we often wish that our faith was stronger and may have even approached Jesus with a similar request. Praying for an increase in faith is a good idea, but we should also be using the faith we already have.
Every time you pray (even if you feel nothing), you exercise the gift of faith received at baptism. You may not realize it, but the mere fact that you are praying is an expression of confidence in the Lord. Finally, as Jesus reminds us, even the smallest amount of faith is enough to uproot large trees and move mountains.
When praying for your current needs, it’s also helpful to look back and see how the Lord has come through for you in the past. It helps to build our confidence in his providence. This technique was used by Moses (Exodus 15:1-18), his sister Miriam (Exodus 15:21), the Blessed Mother (Luke 1:46-55) and throughout the Book of Psalms.
Expect An Answer!
When we pray, we should expect an answer. This requires patience. Don’t make the mistake of giving up when the Lord doesn’t answer quickly enough. In the following verse, the psalmist reminds us to keep our eyes confidently on the Lord until He answers our prayer:
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he have mercy upon us. (Psalm 123:2)
God always hears and answers our prayers. What sometimes trips us up, however, is that “yes,” “no” and “not yet” are all valid answers. Don’t get discouraged. Keep your eyes on him and tell him what you need. He hears you and will answer!
But as for me, I will look to the LORD, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7)