“Therefore, I tell you, all the things you pray and ask for – believe that you have received them, and you will have them.” (Mark 11:24 CSB)
What an interesting statement! Did Jesus really mean it? Is it true that if we pray and ask for something and believe we have received it that we will have it? Did Jesus mean for His disciples and us to take this literally?
A number of commentators add qualifiers to this. Some say that Jesus only said this to His disciples and did not mean it for the church that was to come later. Some say that only believers can pray and expect it to be answered. Some say that we must first understand if what we are praying for is the will of God before we can expect to receive what we ask for. Some say that Jesus was using a figure of speech called “hyperbole” where a statement is made in the extreme in order to emphasize the main point, which, in this case, would be that we should simply pray in faith. Some say we should take a cautious attitude about this matter, since some could take it to an extreme and ask for something God is not going to give. For example, someone might ask God to keep them from injury or death and then jump out of an airplane “in faith” believing they have received it.
So, with all these qualifiers and undoubtedly many others floating around, what are we to make of what Jesus said?
Jesus would never have made this statement if He had not meant it. Therefore, we can only accept that He meant just what He said. There are, however, some foundations that have to be in place: 1) we must be disciples of Jesus, 2) whatever we ask for must be important and not frivolous, 3) we do not ask in presumption but in faith, and 4) we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and, thus, His will above our own. With these foundations in place, we can ask and expect to receive from God, trusting Him to act in accordance with His will.
Lord, Remind us today that You are sovereign over anything and everything, and that You have the power to do anything. We bring our needs and requests to You, and we trust them to You, asking that Your will may be done. Amen.