Why did I stop believing in God? The shortest answer would be that I ran out of excuses for him. Pentecostal Christianity stresses that God is actively involved in the believers’ lives, answering their prayers, communicating with them, and changing events around them. As a teenager, I loved this idea, Ex Presbyterian Pastor Michal Pleban shares.

I was raised in traditional Catholicism, where God, while powerful, was very distant. I always thought that if there is a God, I wanted to have close contact with him – I couldn't imagine any other way of living a meaningful life.But the dull Catholic liturgy, repeated week after week, did not provide me that. So when I found myself at a charismatic, joyous Pentecostal meeting, I knew immediately that what I had discovered was a religion for me.

On that very day, I was “baptized in the Holy Spirit” and started “speaking in tongues”. I never attended a Catholic mass again (except for sporadic family weddings, christenings and funerals). I found a God who felt so close I could almost touch him, who was personally interested in what was happening with me, and who seemed to personally speak to me via the Bible and the “quiet voice” I kept hearing in my head. It was the fulfillment of my childhood dreams.

And then came the excuses.

When you sign up for a new insurance policy, reading it may be very reassuring. You feel protected. It seems that every unfortunate event in your life will be covered. But attached to the policy is also the fine print – an endless list of clauses that allow the insurance company to bail out on coverage in numerous (and often quite surprising) situations. Reading the fine print can leave you very disillusioned, and you may start wondering if the policy actually covers anything at all. (That’s why most of the people skip reading it altogether.

Pentecostal Christianity offers exactly this kind of “policy” for your life. It is full of promises about what God is supposed to do for you, both in this life and in the next. He will answer your prayers. He will guide you. He will protect you. He will give you wisdom, strength and an abundance of everything that you will ever need. All of these promises are more or less directly derived from the Bible, which is treated as inspired and literally infallible.

But when you live this kind of life for a few years, you start noticing that more often than not, these promises fail to materialize. You begin collecting answered prayers, because they are so rare. You notice that bad things happen to you as frequently as to your non-believing friends. You make bad decisions thinking that God told you to make them, only to realize that you must have heard him wrong. You cannot turn a blind eye anymore to prophecies that failed to become fulfilled, to miraculous healings that were promised but never happened, to people for whom you prayed so hard but were never “saved”, and dozens of other situations where the Bible promises you something but you never get it.

What do you do then? You start building excuses, the fine print of your Pentecostal personal theology.