By Ryan Shaw
“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Mark 11:24
Have you ever looked intently at this verse? It is one of those verses that searches us. It tests us. It is impossible to consider this verse and not ask if our personal experience lines up with it.
This particular verse, and many others like it in the New Testament, has often been minimized and even misinterpreted. It is easier to explain them away than to look them straight in the face and measure ourselves accordingly.
Jesus is giving His disciples instruction related to the nature and power of prayer. He links the importance of faith with effective prayer that lays hold of its object. Such faith is not merely wishful thinking or related to self-centered desires or ambitions. It is not blind faith, but faith based on God’s leading and promises.
The kind of faith He is speaking of receives the answers it is seeking. This faith, however, is not something we conjure up in our own understanding or strength. It is not faith we produce, but is based on God and what He has revealed about the varying circumstances and situations we find ourselves in.
There is an important, often overlooked, implication hidden in this verse. The “whatever things you ask” are to be understood as things in the will of God. This is true throughout Scripture. If faithful, expectant, ongoing, perseverant prayer for something in the will of God is made, we can be assured that, in time, we will receive answers.
What are we to believe we are receiving through prayer? Whatever things we ask in prayer that are in His will. How, then, are we to know what His will is in any given situation, in order to effectively pray His will into being?
Praying in the will of God requires faith and faith, by its very definition in Hebrews 11:1 is, “the evidence of things not seen.” Though God has plans and purposes not yet seen in our circumstances and situations, there is often ample evidence that He desires to bring it to pass.
Therefore, it is necessary that prayer according to God’s will, which Jesus promises will be answered, must be rooted in evidence that the thing being prayed is, in fact, God’s will.
It is important to remember that many promises of God in Scripture are accompanied by a condition(s) of some form. God often says if we align with Him in some specific way, He will in turn do something.
This is true with the often quoted verse 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
It is not evidence of God’s will for us to simply take the promise to forgive and heal and pray it (even with faith) apart from faithfully obeying the conditions – humbling ourselves, praying and turning from wicked ways. God’s ways and word must be honored to see answers released to prayer in the will of God. He will never violate this principle of the Kingdom.
It is not until God reveals evidences to us along a certain line that we are then obligated to pray that thing into being. What might some of these evidences be? We will look at one in this article and then four more in next week’s.
First, any promise God has clearly promised in the word of God. When praying we often want to add, “if it is your will, do so and so…” When this is prayed related to a promise clearly revealed as His will for believers in Scripture, this is the height of unbelief.
Take the promise of God in Scripture to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him (Luke 11:13). “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”
It is sometimes prayed,” If it is your will give us the Holy Spirit “. To pray in such a way brings into question our belief in God’s faithfulness as promise keeper. This is why such a prayer is rarely answered. It is not rooted in evidence of God’s purpose of filling His people with His Spirit.
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Our unchanging God desires to pour out the Holy Spirit and the only condition placed here is that we must ask for this gift. Promises in Scripture are meant by God to be prayed and received by all believers. These promises are an evidence of His will.