There are those who teach that if one has enough faith , they can ‘claim’ God’s promise to give us whatever we ask for in prayer. They use verses like mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Does the Bible teach that we can have anything we want as long as we believe it strongly enough? Is God presented as a genie who will magically grant our wishes if we just have enough faith?
Verses such as Mark 11:24 and Matt 21:22 follow the accounts of the disciples having witnessed a miraculous act done by Christ. They marvel and Jesus tells them that they too can do great things if they have enough faith. This is what James is describing in James 1:5-8. The lesson is that God will not answer a prayer offered in doubt or insincerity, not that God will give us anything. Note what the following scriptures say about the ‘requirements’ of acceptable prayer:
James 4:2-3 “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your own pleasures.” Our requests must be made with the proper motives.
John 14:13-14 “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Our requests must be something that will bring glory to God, not just comfort or pleasure for us.
1John 5:14 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” In order to receive what we ask for, the request must be made in accordance to God’s will. (Remember Jesus’ prayer in the garden –‘Not my will, but yours be done’)
John 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you what you ask in my name.” In order to receive our requests, we must be bearing the fruit that He commanded us to bear. This is why God granted the requests of Jesus – Heb 5:7. God heard the prayers of Jesus because He was always doing the Father’s will.
Even Jesus did not always receive what He asked for. In the garden, Jesus prayed three times for another way – He ‘named it’, but God did not give His Son what He asked for. Instead, God gave Jesus what He needed – Luke 22:43. Jesus turned the request over to God – Your will, not mine be done. The same is required of us as we come to God in prayer. We turn our requests over to His will and He will give us the peace we need to deal with the answer we receive – Phil 4:6-7. Understanding that God is in charge and loves us and gives us what we need when we obey Him and follow His word will allow us to be content whatever answer he gives to our prayers. Phil 4:11-13 Do you have that contentment?
Arlington Church of Christ in Cincinnati Ohio shared this devotional lesson. Thank you.