Have you ever questioned God’s existence or some point of Christian theology, and when you reached out to someone for help you were greeted with, “You just need to pray about it”? Is this the proper response? No, and again I say no! This sort of response is typically not helpful, and leads many sincere people to eventually abandon the faith.
What if you said “I am hungry” and someone responded by saying “Go pray about it.” Would you be satisfied with that? No, because it is eating, not prayer, that is the proper solution to the problem at hand. So why is it that when someone says “I am doubting my faith” that we think “Go pray about it” is a sufficient response? Prayer is not the kind of thing to adequately address the problem at hand. The problem is an intellectual one, and thus it requires an intellectual solution. Christian theology and apologetics provide an intellectual account and justification for the Christian faith. While prayer should always be encouraged and never be discouraged, in this case prayer is not the meat and potatoes of the solution.
I suspect that the reason people advise doubters to “just pray about it” is because that is all they know to do. If they knew how to answer the person’s questions and concerns, surely they would do so. The problem, then, is personal ignorance. That is why I believe all Christians are responsible to study Christian theology and apologetics at some level. We all need to be prepared to give an answer, as Peter admonished us (1 Peter 3:15). At the very least, each church should have a resident apologist to whom such questions can be directed. I know, I know…I’m living in a pipe dream. But a man can dream, can’t he?
Of course, this is not to say that all doubt is intellectual in nature. Sometimes doubt is the result of emotion or sin, in which case the answer is prayer and repentance.