The Bible – The Great Prayer Book
By Armin Gesswein
The Bible changes a lot of our thinking about prayer. Indeed, it reverses my ideas, and revolutionizes my prayer habits.
Again and again the Lord reminds me in His Word that is it while we pray He does the work. I always used to think that it is after we pray that He answers. It is hard to get into my head that Jesus is saying it right when He promises: “What things so ever you desire when you pray, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24).
I always thought: How can I receive something until I receive it? Well, the Lord assures me that I do receive it, but I already receive it when and while I pray. Pray in faith. Pray in the “full assurance of faith” which “comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” My problem was: I needed to learn the Biblical way of praying--in faith, which already assures the answer ahead of time. It is as good as the answer. It is the answer!
In Mark 11 Jesus is saying that if prayer is to be answered, we must believe it is being answered at the time we are praying. Jesus does not say to believe that you “might receive” or “will receive” or even “are receiving”--but “have received.” The prayer has already been answered as an accomplished fact. He further makes His point clear that there is to be no doubt about it: “Shall not doubt in his heart.” The Lord leaves no room for uncertainty of doubt or “perhaps” or “I hope so”--not when He speaks.
All this kind of assurance is God-given--not the way we think. It is given by Him, by His Word and by His Spirit. Actually, the Lord does not do differently from this in anything in the Christian life; the moment I believed His Word about my salvation I had the assurance of it. The assurance was as good as salvation. It already was mine.
This faith-praying principle of Mark 11 characterizes our Lord’s way for all praying. He says, “What things soever you desire when you pray, believe that you have received them, and they will be yours.”
Faith means more than our taking God at His Word. It is God Himself keeping His Word--watching over it to perform and fulfil it to the letter by His Spirit. This is the great thing--so distinctive--about Christian praying. Is it different from what I once thought? I should say it is!
Example: On Long Island dear old “Uncle Am”--retired blacksmith, Methodist lay preacher and intercessor--told me of a revival he prayed into being in their local church. He knew months in advance that it was coming, and even announced it.
Summer came, but no revival. Some began to taunt him: “Uncle Am, where’s the revival?” “It’s coming...as sure as God is in heaven,” he replied.
It came. In the fall, after the farmers got their crops in, the church held special meetings which continued for many weeks. Many came to Christ in a work of God which stirred the countryside.
That is the kind of praying-in-faith which Jesus not only has in mind, but which He also brings about. In Hebrews 11:1 we read: “Faith means that we are sure of getting the things we hope for; it means that we are certain as to things we cannot see” (Norlie’s Translation).
God’s Word does indeed change a lot of our thinking about prayer, and in the process it changes us too!