Powers Opposing Results
Without a doubt, doubt is one of the strongest forces opposing successful prayer. If we are to overcome it and to rid ourselves of it, then we must learn what it is and how it works.
The dictionary defines doubt as wavering, being uncertain, hesitant to believe, or to distrust. The English word doubt comes from the Latin word dubitare. In his book Doubt: Faith in Two Minds, Os Guinness reveals that the Latin word dubitare comes from an Aryan word meaning ‘two’. Doubt is not failing to believe one thing strongly enough, it is believing two things in conflict. The person who doubts wavers between the two beliefs uncertain which is true and which path is the right one to take.
Fear is the belief that, under certain conditions, loss or suffering is occurring or will occur. As a result, fear motivates a us to
- flee from or avoid those conditions and seek other conditions.
- seek a source or means to overcome the source or means of loss or suffering
- seek a source of refuge or protection from loss or suffering
- a source that will not be overcome by the source of loss or suffering
- a source that can keep us from loss and suffering
- seek the means, strength, and will to minimize and endure the anticipated loss or suffering
Fear may include the belief that there is no source or means to meet our need for protection from loss. It may include the belief that the source and means we currently rely on is not reliable and can, or will, not protect us. If that is the case, then a person either overcomes and rejects the fear, or abandons the source and means currently relied on.
Ultimately, failure in prayer involves failure to measure according to truth. We fail to see what prayer really is, the requirements to be met, and the steps to be taken. This happens when we measure according to our own understanding instead of asking God to show us the truth of these things.
There is a name for measuring according to our own understanding: pride. Our understanding of pride is measuring oneself more highly than one should: i.e. more highly than one really is in truth. It is close to what pride really is, but inaccurate and incomplete enough to hinder our prayers.
If a person measures according to their own understanding instead of asking God to show them the truth, they are measuring themselves more highly than they should. They are measuring themselves as capable of perceiving the truth without God’s help. The truth is we are not.
Like doubt, sin is one of the strongest forces opposing successful prayer. Like doubt, if we are to overcome sin and rid ourselves of it, then we must learn what it is and how it works.
We are most aware of sin as an act of disobedience to God: doing something contrary to what God has commanded one to do. Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil even though God had told them not to. Contrary to God’s command, Achan took a robe, some silver and a bar of gold from the ruins of Jericho.
We are much less aware of sin as a power working within us to cause to do things contrary to God’s will and instruction.
Talebearing is not a spiritual force like fear or doubt. Rather it is part of the processes by which opposing spiritual forces work against us to defeat our prayers and the prayers of others. Unfortunately, talebearing is far too common a practice.
You shall not go up and down as a talebearer among your people: neither shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:16)
What is talebearing? Talebearing is telling of the unrighteousness, foolishness, or untrustworthiness of another. It is revealing private information of another. It is telling something about a person that would cause a hearer to measure that person as unrighteous, foolish, untrustworthy, etc.. Talebearing frequently includes overstating the truth (exaggeration) or understating the truth (belittling). Usually this is an exaggeration of another’s bad thing and belittling another’s good thing - and this reveals some of the underlying nature of talebearing.
Tare faith is believing a source or means can be relied on that is based on something other than the testimony of the Word and Spirit of God. Even believing that God can be relied on, if it is based on something other than the testimony of the Word and Spirit of God, is tare faith.
Tare faith comes from beliefs we acquire or accept with little or no examination of the truth and reliability of the testimony those beliefs are based on. Some of this happens because we trust the witness to tell us the truth. Our parents, teachers, media, and those in authority are primary contributors. As children growing up we rely on them to meet so many of our needs. We accept their testimony and example as truth and learn to rely on the sources and means they rely on.
Consider the example of Santa Claus. The belief that Santa Claus exists and can be relied on once a year to come through with the answer to some of our ‘prayers’ for gifts is a form of tare faith. It is limited and temporary, but it works to illustrate how tare faith is sown into our hearts and why we accept it.
Desires are not the source of temptation: Satan is. Satan seeks to exploit our desires to cause his seed to conceive in us to bring forth sin and death.
Temptation is like a baited hook or trap: something desirable with a hidden hook or snare.
Temptation comes to us in the form of a thought.
Temptation may be a thought suggesting we seek to satisfy our desire using means or from sources that God does not approve. Temptation may be a thought suggesting we seek to satisfy our desire quickly instead of according to timing approved by God. Temptation may be a thought suggesting we desire or believe something not approved by God.
In all cases temptation causes us to abandon trusting God (faith) to provide what is needed to satisfy our desires or give us joy with desires he approves. It causes us to abandon weighing our steps according to what God approves (fear of the Lord) and doing, saying, thinking, desiring, and believing only those things that are pleasing to him.
When we take the bait of temptation and a desire conceives within us to satisfy our desires using means or sources God does not approve, to satisfy our desires when and how we want them satisfied, or to desire and believe things not approved by God: when such a desire conceives in us it brings forth sin that chokes the seed of the word of God in us and brings forth death.
Satan attempted to exploit Jesus’ desires and suggest means to satisfy those desires that were not pleasing to God. Jesus recognized the temptation, weighed his thoughts, words, actions, desires, and beliefs according to what pleased God and rejected the temptation.