And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him Hebrews 11:6 ESV
Imagine the conversations between Abel and Cain about God. Though Cain was the first-born but he became bitter and distant from God in his heart. The scene could have sounded a bit like this:
Abel: Hey Cain, what’s going on? You seem really different lately.
Cain: It’s just really hitting home to me that God will never let us go back to where Mom and Dad came from
Abel: Listen, I know how you feel but I just know that God will work things out!
Cain: God! Hah! He doesn’t care a bit about what we do! He’s only concerned that we remember to bring our sacrifice at the end of the harvest.
Abel: You can say what you want Cain, you’re the older brother. But for me, I believe God still has a plan and I’ll do whatever He asks to learn more about it!
This is the first of a three-part series on prayer. The imagined conversation is meant to help us put into perspective that what we believe about God influences everything even before we begin to pray. The author of Hebrews tells us that this faith in who God is precedes any reward we could expect from Him. Cain surely had heard about God from Adam and Eve. He knew about the creation, the gift of Eve to Adam, the dominion given to them and about the garden of Eden. Yet, with the passing of years something changed inside of Cain and he became cold and hardened towards God and towards his brother.
The fact that God rejected Cain’s sacrifice had less to do with the kind of sacrifice that Cain offered and everything to do with the faith that Cain offered it with. Cain had come to God out of requirement and though he offered his first fruits – the best of his harvest, he didn’t offer with the pure faith that his brother Abel had. Something in Cain was already far from God long before his rejection and subsequent jealousy and hatred of Abel. God had lifted up a mirror to Cain and he could not accept the reflection that he saw.
Just believing in God’s existence is not the same as believing in the existence of a good God who cares for us and watches over us. Before you go to pray today, first go to God simply recognizing and resting in His goodness. Go like Abel did, trusting that even though we can not see the solution for our situation, that there is nothing better we could do but to bring our sacrifice of praise to Him!