Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31
“…let him ask in faith, with no doubting…” James 1:6
I belong to a club. I have no idea how big it is, because in the circle of believers, we usually don’t poll for doubters. Of the original 12 apostles, the most uninspiring — after the infamous Judas Iscariot — was most likely ‘doubting’ Thomas.
I want to be the one who asks in faith. I want to know when I pray that it means something — you know, more than hopeful self-talk. I want cause and effect. When I eat, my gut is happy. When I pray, I want my spiritual thirst to be quenched.
But, in my case, there is this barrier. Whether real or only perceptual, I can’t say for sure. It is doubt.
Thankfully, I have known those whose practice and presence are marked by confidence in prayer — more accurately -- by confidence in God to whom they pray. The elusive ingredient they possess and I lack is faith. It seems I am short of even that mustard seed grain of faith with mountain-moving potential.
“For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom,
and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,
to another faith by the same Spirit…” 1 Corinthians 12:8-9
My gift seems to be that of rationalizing both sides of an argument. I can persuade myself both that a prayer was answered explicitly and that it was a mere coincidence. At some point, I ceased looking for a way to correct this flaw in my spiritual development and simply accepted that in the passing out of spiritual goodies, I was not on the faith roster.
What keeps me soldiering on is this truth: Jesus didn’t kick Peter under the waves for doubting. And the little book of Jude, likely written by the half-brother of Jesus, contains this encouragement for those in the doubter club:
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt…” Jude 1:20-22
Jude was a doubter. He was one of those family members that went to collect Jesus and bring Him home because ‘big brother’ had lost his mind. But he, like Thomas, was shown mercy.