Welcome to The Daily Prayer Team messages, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
We’re going to keep going to the Prayer Team email bag for a few more days as the next unit is not quite ready to proceed. There are two questions for today, which are somewhat related:
Who do you do if you lose your faith? How do you explain the existence of God to someone who has lost faith?
The key to these two questions are the words “lose” and “lost”. I remember when I was a child, our parents told us that if we ever got lost, we should go to the last place we remembered being together. So, the easy answer to the question of what to do if we’ve lost faith is very simple really. Go back to the last place we remember having faith, the last time in our life when God felt real, where we were sure and had few doubts.
This is a lot different of a question than “what do you do if you’ve never had faith?” We will come back to that question later.
Let’s presume that a person had faith at some point in their life. This means that during a period of little faith, there is faith to come back to. It would be appropriate to reflect on the period of time when faith was strong, why was it strong? Was it because of praying, reading Scripture, worshipping, works of charity? One can go back to one of these points and start repeating what was working—start praying again, start going to church again, etc.
I think if we are honest, most of us go through periods of life where our faith gets tested. We may choose to take a step back in our prayer life, cut back on worship, or stop reading Scripture at some point. This might be due to a traumatic life event that makes us question the existence of God. It might be that our life not going particularly well and maybe we blame God. And it might be with some sense of boredom. Doing the same and the same regarding worship and prayer might start to dull our enthusiasm.
I know I have been through these periods. When I go through one of them, I make it a point to keep showing up, to keep showing up in prayer and in worship. I may not show up with great fervor or energy, but I continue to show up. I suppose I could say that my pledge to God is a commitment to always show up, even when I don’t feel like it. (This is the kind of commitment one needs to be married or have children. We all go through spells where we don’t want to be married or a parent or both. It may last a day or two or longer, but the key to being married or being a parent is showing up, even when you are upset, tired or bored of the repetition.)
When I’m struggling with my faith, I try to recall times when prayer and worship felt more powerful, and ask myself why they did. Was it my personal approach to things rather some external driving force?
There is one other critical thing that I do during the times when my faith feels shaky. I talk to people. I speak with my Spiritual Father. I speak with other priests. And I speak to laypeople whose faith is strong. I speak to them for guidance as well as inspiration. There have been countless times that the example of someone else’s faith has inspired or revived my own. So, when you are down on your faith, talk to your priest, go to confession to your Spiritual Father, and get yourself around people whose faith journey is going well so you can benefit from their witness and take some inspiration for yourself.
Explaining God’s existence to someone who has lost faith is the procedure as when your faith is wavering. Encourage them to go back to the last place/last time their faith was strong, and inspire them through your own witness of faith.
As for the questions of what to do if you’ve never had faith, or how to talk to someone who’s never had faith, we will address that in tomorrow’s reflection.
Restore us, O God; let Thy face shine, that we may be saved! O Lord God of hosts, how long wilt Thou be angry with Thy people’s prayers? Thou hast fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure. Thou dost make us the scorn of our neighbors; and our enemies laugh among themselves. Restore us, O God of hosts, let Thy face shine, that we may be saved. Psalm 80: 3-7
If your faith is going well, look for someone whose faith is not going as strong and inspire them. If your faith journey is not going well, look for someone whose faith is strong and look to them for inspiration. We’re in this journey together. And in order to get where we all hope to go, we’re going to need one another. I’ll need you on the days my faith is shaky, and you’ll need me on the days when yours is.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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