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-- © GodSpeak International 2007 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: John DeLaughter <john.godspeak@sbcglobal.net>
Editors: Teresa Seputis and Sue Spaulding

Prayer-School Course #38

Praying To Obtain God's Best

By John DeLaughter

Lesson 15
The Difference Between Doubt and Brokenness

In a previous teaching, we found that Christians experience doubt, and yet God still answers their prayers. This lesson is best encapsulated in the observation that the believers "didn't allow the doubt in their heads to drown out the faith in their hearts."

Satan uses pseudo doubts to keep us from receiving God's best. These include: our cultural biases against miracles; how Satan uses our sin to cause us to doubt God's ability to use us; and mistaking brokenness for doubt.

We will look at these areas over the next two lessons.

Cultural Doubts Hinder Our Faith Walk

First, some have to overcome much cultural baggage as they wait on God to answer their prayer request.

If you've got your spiritual ear on God's Kingdom track, you may have heard of the miracles He's performed in other countries. My son JP has been to Brazil twice as part of Randy Clark's Youth Power Invasion. On the first trip, God healed him of a chronic ailment he'd had for four years; this healing was subsequently verified by Kaiser Permanente. On his second trip, God worked through JP to heal a man of partial blindness, a miracle that included turning the man's glass eye into a real one.

What immediately comes to mind when you hear about such supernatural events? In all honesty, when many of us hear about such things, we experience a twinge of unbelief.

Do believers in other countries have a similar first reaction? I don't believe they do. Why is that?


We live in a society without the supernatural. Skepticism is revered and materialism reigns. I grew up reading Francis Schaeffer's works, which described the historic roots of Westerns relying on their five senses (The God Who is There, Escape from Reason, He is There, and He is Not Silent).

In fact, Americans and Europeans must overcome a greater load of doubt than guilt when they come to Christ.

The catechism of skepticism has conditioned us to accept the fallible findings of science as indisputable facts. Significant others and schools have indoctrinated us. According to the rational mindset, nothing exists outside our three-dimensional world.

Yet, 90% of the universe is invisible--made up of something called "dark matter"--impossible to measure with most instruments. Scientists can only hypothesize about the contents of the invisible universe; their theories cannot be tested. What we are taught as statements of fact are really statements of faith--a humanistic faith that has no place for things in the invisible world.

We have let cultural mindsets determine what is possible, when God says nothing is impossible for Him: "And looking at them Jesus said to them, 'With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" (Matthew 19:26)

Doubt first entered the human experience when the serpent persuaded Eve to doubt God's word (Genesis 3:1-7). That misgiving, which flourished to new heights during the Renaissance, has grown into a regular Tower of Babel in the modern West. The rugged individualism of the American West values a self-sufficiency that gets things done without depending on others. Who needs the keys to the kingdom, if the home equity key can unlock the same doors? Where does God fit into the equation?


What about Western Christianity? The skepticism that shapes society has seeped into the creeds we live by. Many of us grew up in a Christianity without miracles. In fact, normal Christianity didn't need miracles and many of us did not know a single person for whom God actually answered a prayer in a miraculous way. Christians who've never seen a miracle draw the conclusion that signs and wonders are for yesterday, not today. We develop theologies that explain away the need for miracles in our day and age. If someone proclaims a miracle--such as increased church attendance, then the glory falls to a person instead of to God. We devise natural plans to accomplish only what supernatural interventions by God can do. If a man can organize a miracle, they don't need God to orchestrate one.

Let me share my own experience. In the last church where I served on staff, I learned ineffective ways to do God's business. The denomination paid lip service to the work of the Holy Spirit; but they were suspicious of anyone who possessed any of the Spirit's gifts, except ones that were "approved." Prayer meetings were primarily another name for Wednesday night Bible studies, with a little prayer time tacked onto the end.

So, how did we think the church would grow? The congregation was small. It only had 40 people in attendance on a good Sunday--and the community was well established. Many of the factors that usually help a church grow naturally (a big budget, people inviting their friends, or folks moving into a community and looking for a church) didn't exist for us.

What was the answer? Denominational propaganda led us to believe that all it took was the right program, discipline, and enthusiasm. We tried plans touted through the seminary I attended; we followed formulas in books we read; and we executed suggestions made by the local church- growth specialist. There were multiple mass mailings of a church newsletter to five-thousand households, with the addresses changed on a regular basis so that we could reach everyone in the community at some point.

We did a telephone campaign, cold-calling twenty-five hundred households, to survey the community's religious wants. We sent out special mailings that tailored our message and ministries to the perceived needs of the city. Those who responded positively by phone were invited to a big kickoff Sunday, specifically on Easter. That was a day when people who didn't attend church were more likely to show up.

One family did.

Every time one Madison-Avenue technique failed, another waited in the wings to be tried. Eventually, our endurance faltered.

When it was all said and done, we had a ministry without power. We were a people without a provision. There was a Christianity that other people enjoyed, which we saw and longed for from afar.

It was like in the movie, "The Wizard of Oz." In Kansas, everything was in black and white; life was dull. When things moved to Oz, everything was alive and in color.

I lived a black and white Christianity; but my spirit longed for a Technicolor Christianity, the resurrected life promised by our resurrected Lord. What I had wasn't even plain vanilla Christianity.


Sometimes doubt performs a useful purpose. We've been taught to be skeptical as a survival mechanism. Healthy skepticism prevented many people from buying the Brooklyn Bridge. Emotional skepticism can also be unhealthy. How many times has someone important to you broken a promise? Those letdowns become emotional buttons that get pushed when you ask God for something big, but you don't get an answer by your deadline.

So, as you pray and wait on God to answer, remember that emotional and cultural skepticism can impede the walk of faith.

-- © GodSpeak International 2007 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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