Written by Hannah Cameron, LeadHer International Director
This month in our LeadHer Local chapters, we’re talking about the foundation of prayer and where we pray from. Many times, we base our prayers off of who we believe God is. Our core team attends a local chapter too and are challenged by the same thoughts and teachings as chapter members everywhere. At our first meeting of February, we divided into smaller groups. One of our discussion prompts was, “Who is God to you?” Easy enough, right? If you’ve been a Christian for a good chunk of your life as I have been, you have a relationship with Him, so it should be easy to convey His role in that relationship, correct? Wrong. I was struck by my inability to come up with an answer. I was really good at saying who God wasn’t to me. I know who He should be to me, but I realized how difficult it was for me to express who He is to me.
This morning, as I’m still processing that discussion time, I was reminded of the story in Mark chapter 8 (v.27-29). In this passage, Jesus is traveling with His disciples ministering in different villages as they went. He asked them, “Who do people say that I am?” At this time, many did not believe He was the one who had come to fulfill all of the prophecies of their forefathers. So, their answers were names of people others had pegged Jesus as (John the Baptist, Elijah, a prophet, etc.). Then, he asks his disciples the same question I was asked just a couple of nights ago, “But who do you say that I am?” This time, only Peter answers, “You are the Christ.”
This is a powerful interaction to me for many reasons. When we look at the context of this conversation, we know that (as mentioned before), many didn’t yet know He was the Christ. So, we see that Peter takes Him at His word. He believed Christ was who He said He was even before He had the proof in the resurrection. His “foundation” was built on faith (even though, I’d like to believe if I was taking long walks with the personified Jesus daily, I’d have no trouble trusting Him either). I’m also struck by the fact that Peter was the only one scripture mentions responding to His second question after it seems so many of them had answered His first. This part of the story is particularly comforting to me considering my personal response (or lack thereof) above.
Even many of those disciples who saw first hand the miracles Jesus performed, who dropped their nets immediately to follow Him, who were a part of a community that was directly impacted by the life of Jesus, had trouble pinpointing exactly who He was to them. I can imagine (on a much larger scale), they were feeling like I am today– challenged in their relationship with Christ and prompted to identify His role in their lives. However, as difficult as it is for us to answer, there’s obviously a reason Christ asked that question of His disciples, and I believe it’s a question He’s asking all of us.
I wonder if Jesus knew that first question would be easiest to answer and if that’s why He led with it. Acknowledging who He is to us puts us in a vulnerable position, because it exposes the level of our faith. We’re probably not going to call God our healer if we don’t have faith He heals. If we don’t trust God to provide our needs and lean into other things for our provision, we haven’t placed ourselves in the position to know God as our provider. If we don’t receive the peace the Lord gives and continue on in anxiety, we probably don’t know Him as the Prince of Peace. Though He is all of these things, we’re not going to know Him on those levels if we’re not viewing Him through the lens of faith. He doesn’t reveal this to us to shame us but to help us recognize an opportunity for growth, to help us see a void that He is more than capable of filling. This is not a question that lends itself to the experience of others but immediately pierces through all of our layers into our true relationship with God.
So, who is God to you? If you don’t like the answer you come up with, or if you’re like me (and those disciples mentioned earlier) and can’t come up with an answer, don’t beat yourself up! Instead let that question catapult you into a deeper relationship with God by asking Him to reveal Himself to you. Then, let your foundation for prayer be built upon the faith that God is who He says He is. I have to believe that this will only help us in “praying out of relationship rather than routine” (another February takeaway from LeadHer Local) and make a tremendous impact on our prayer lives!