The Faith That Receives
By Alvin J. VanderGriend
"Have faith in God," Jesus answered…"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" (Mark 11:22-24).
Faith is a requirement of true prayer. Prayers without faith are incomplete. Millions of prayers have been prayed with no faith and have thus failed in their intent. They have not been true prayers.
The astounding promise Jesus makes in Mark 11:24 seems to offer too much. How can God offer to do "whatever [we] ask for in prayer"? And why have so many believers asked, trusting God, and not received?
The difficulty we have with this passage is really a difficulty in understanding faith. We tend to think of faith as a personal possession that exists wholly within us. We figure that if we have enough faith, we will get what we ask for – and if we do not, we will not get it.
But faith is not simply a possession. It is an aspect of relationship. It is not something we own like an idea or a feeling. Faith always involves another person. It trusts the other person to think and act in a certain way. For example, throughout all the years my parents were alive, I knew they would welcome me anytime I came home. I knew they loved me. I trusted that they cared for me and were willing to help me anytime. In other words, I had faith in them. This faith was based on what I knew about them. Faith in God is like that. It is a conviction about who God is, what He is like, and how He will always act.
Praying in faith is not an inner conviction that God will act according to our desires if only we believe hard enough. It involves believing that God will always respond to our prayers in accord with His nature, His purposes, and His promises.
God does not want us simply to toss requests at Him, hoping that some of them will be answered. He wants us to ask, knowing He is there, claiming what He promises, trusting that He will act in line with His nature and that His purposes will be achieved. That is praying in faith.
When you ask a person something in good faith, you do not ask for something the person would not be willing to give. I could never, for example, have asked my parents to give me more than my share of their inheritance. I knew them too well to make such a selfish and unfair request. Similarly, if you truly know God, you will only ask for what is in accord with His will and not for anything that is purely selfish.
If you want to grow strong in prayer, grow strong in faith. If you want to grow strong in faith, get to know God better. If you want to get to know God better, spend time with Him, reading His Word and listening to His Spirit.
Why do you think God has made faith such an indispensable condition of prayer?
What kind of things can you do to increase your faith?
Praise God for being trustworthy.
Ask God to increase your faith so that you can pray more powerfully.
Thank God for His willingness to hear and answer the prayers you bring to Him in faith.
Confess any lack of faith you may discover in yourself.
Try this prayer of faith experiment. Read James 1:5 and note that it reveals both the nature of God and a promise of God. If you are sure of God’s nature as revealed in this verse and sure that God will deliver on His promise, ask for wisdom in connection with some practical issue you are facing right now. Believe without doubt that God will supply it. Thank Him in advance for the wisdom He will provide. Keep asking and trusting until you receive the wisdom you asked for.
– Taken from Love To Pray by Alvin VanderGriend. Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of the author.