I’ve written a book entitled Learning to Pray. This blog is called Learning to Pray. Yet am I really learning to pray? Am I still working on it? Am I putting enough effort into growing in faith?
On Sunday Pastor Mark spoke about going from a cognitive understanding of faith to a true heartfelt faith, the concept that in order to get true faith we must first “yearn to yearn” for God. We must want Him; we must want to believe. We must understand the difference between having doctrine and living doctrine.
I was reading a Jewish website (aish.com) where a reader wrote asking the rabbi how to have faith. Here’s part of the response:
A young man, a congregant of our synagogue stood spellbound as he watched my brother-in-law Rabbi Shloime, of blessed memory, totally absorbed in and transported by the experience of prayer. At the conclusion of the services, he approached Rabbi Shloime and asked him how one can access the remarkable level of connection and faith that he had witnessed. Rabbi Shloime replied "with a lot of hard work."
Most of us erroneously assume that the most important things in life such as spirituality, love, creative inspiration, etc., should be spontaneous -- a flash, a gift, a bestowal. We are a culture that is paying dearly for the terribly misguided romantic notion that relationships can be engaged and based on the "love at first sight" premise. We believe that creative endeavor can be successfully negotiated by a mere flash of inspiration, without the requisite input of toil.
I am not surprised by this response. Anyone who wants something badly enough must learn that hard work will be required. Yes, faith is a gift, a blessing bestowed on us through the grace of God. And how do we work toward that kind of true heartfelt faith? We pray. We pray, we read Scripture, and we pray some more. We find stillness and listen for God. How can He deny a struggling soul who truly wants faith and works hard for it?