By Ryan Shaw
Last week we began looking at the issue of effectively praying in the will of God. We are considering the teaching of Jesus in Mark 11:24. “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”
We are looking at evidences or proofs that a thing being prayed is, in fact, God’s will. The first evidence from last week was any promise God has clearly promised in the word of God.
A second evidence is any promise in Scripture that can be reasonably applied to our particular circumstance. Believers are meant to make use of general promises and principles from Scripture in our own prayer lives.
When we find ourselves in a similar situation as what is narrated in God’s word, we are to use His promises in the Biblical situation and apply it to our own. The Bible, from one end to the other, is full of such circumstances that are to be taken hold of and applied in our situations.
Many of God’s promises in Scripture are deliberately broad. This enables the careful student of God’s word to faithfully apply them into their own circumstances, according to the will of God. The Holy Spirit applies these broad promises and tailors them precisely to the situation of the individual.
Take Revelation 3:8 for example. This is Jesus’ letter to the church of Philadelphia. Jesus tells this faithful church, “See, I have set before you an open door and no one can shut it!” Maybe we are going through a circumstance where there are possibilities of an open door being shut and the Spirit highlights this promise to us.
We pray, in faith, that God’s promise of setting an open door would stand. We take this as evidence that through prayer we are to contend for God’s will that none can shut such a door. This Scriptural situation that the Spirit applied to our circumstance is an evidence of His will.
A third evidence is when God speaks through another person or a dream, His still small voice or some other form of guidance about a situation, circumstance or what He wants to do. The Holy Spirit applies this experience to our hearts and confirms it as God’s will. We then use that guidance, and the Spirit’s application, as an evidence of something God intends to do and bring into being.
For example, I have had situations where different people came to me within a 48 hour period of time and spoke words to me about God’s will for some area of my life or future.
The people did not know each other or very much about me. God used this to confirm an area of my calling and guide me to pray this into being as God’s will, years before seeing it realized with my eyes.
A fourth kind of evidence is when we discern circumstances of the times we live and see from Scripture God’s desire to release particular blessings in such circumstances. For example, the promise of revival on those repenting and turning from wickedness. We live in a day similar to those of Biblical times when God called His people to repentance and returning back to Him. This discernment is evidence of His will.
A fifth evidence is when the Spirit Himself grips us to pursue some specific end. The fact the Spirit has excited something within us, confirming that it is indeed God’s will to release it in time. It is crucial to make sure it is not our own fleshly excitement. But having done so, we set ourselves to pray this area we’ve been gripped with, until we see the answer provided.
Take for example, prayer for a particular neighborhood or university. If the Spirit has gripped your heart to labor in prayer for an end to some unholy practice or unjust law, take this as an evidence of His will in that area. We stand in faith, with evidence that His will is for us to contend for spiritual breakthrough in that community.
In addition to these evidences, we are to pray with specificity. Some are afraid to do so, citing that we are to let God be sovereign. Jesus, however, in our verse instructs to pray specifically and not let doubt and unbelief rob us of laying hold of those things. This all relies, of course, on our praying according to evidences given by the Spirit.
Jesus’ answer is “you will have them.” This clearly reveals a correlation with what we pray (in the will of God) and what we receive as an answer.
For example, if we are led by the Spirit and stand on God’s promises for the salvation of a particular person (whom the Spirit has confirmed to pray in this way), we can trust that He will answer us in time.
He may save others as well, but it is nonsense to think that due to our prayers He randomly chooses not to save the person we prayed and instead save someone else. To do so would be a violation of the character of God. We are to believe that in time we will receive the things we pray for in the will of God.