Do You Believe in God?

_1In the New York Times Sunday Book Review (October 3, 2008), Garrison Keillor wrote a review of the book Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes.  The review begins with the following paragraph:

 

I don’t believe in God, but I miss Him,” the book begins. Julian Barnes, an atheist turned agnostic, has decided at the age of 62 to address his fear of death — why should an agnostic fear death who has no faith in an afterlife? How can you be frightened of Nothing? On this simple question Barnes has hung an elegant memoir and meditation, a deep seismic tremor of a book that keeps rumbling and grumbling in the mind for weeks thereafter.

 

There is something about that first line that captivates me.  Perhaps it is because this man, who is a self-proclaimed agnostic, seems to want to believe but just doesn’t.  Some of us could say that we do believe in God but at the same time we miss him.  In other words, some of us claim to believe in God, yet we behave as if he is absent and nowhere to be found.

 

Perhaps this is most evident in our prayers.  Some of us pray almost anemic prayers.  We pray but only ask God to do what seems reasonable or normal.  We don’t pray for anything large or incredible because it just seems impossible.  Consequently, our prayers are not God-sized.  In fact, we may find ourselves praying for something that really doesn’t seem to require God’s divine intervention.  In the words of one person, "I’m sure everything is going to work out nicely, but it can’t hurt to pray."

 

Do you relate to this?  Do you find yourself praying for only what seems reasonable or normal?

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  • Connie Lard

    If I can only pray for what seems reasonable or normal, what’s the point?  If God is God, then I can ask for the unreasonable and fantastic and expect to see it happen.  At least, that’s what Jesus said.  And I have seen it happen. As for the times the miracle doesn’t happen even though I have prayed in faith, I also believe that even then God is still present and working things out for my good. Even though it may not feel like it at the time.

  • Jim Martin

    Thanks very much Connie.  Good reminder.

  • Mark

    I can relate to this. I don’t know how to explain someone who ‘wants to believe in God’ but just doesn’t. Why would God (if he exists) not reveal himself to such a person? I find myself in this situation increasingly more often in the last year. I want to believe but I feel like I’m starting not to believe. I still follow Jesus, but its very tough.

    Do we really ‘choose’ what we believe or does belief arise out of what is apparent to us? I’m obviously very confused and I write comments like this partly to just express things.

    Thanks,