Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
One of the challenges we all face is reading Scripture on a stand-alone-basis. For example, when one studies prayer and God’s purpose and response to prayer, we can easily become dishearten when we rely sole on one scripture to provide us the assurance we seek.
Today’s Scripture is a good example. By itself, the words imply anything and everything you ask God from a position of total conviction will happen. Yet the many other lessons of Scripture provide a more wholistic view.
Those who preach a wealth and prosperity gospel like to use this Scripture emphasizing one’s lack of faith if your request doesn’t happen per your expectations. Yet when you look at the prayers of Paul, Jesus, and his disciples, there is a contradiction.
Paul prayed three times to have God remove the “thorns piercing his flesh”. God’s reply: “my grace is sufficient.” The prayer was answered, but not according to one’s expectations.
The disciples in their early ministry with Jesus prayed to have a child healed but failed. Jesus came over and completed the task with the remarks that some situations requires prayer and fasting. Again, the prayer wasn’t answered according to the disciple’s desire because there was something else they needed to do. Yet the prayer was answered through Jesus’ request.
Jesus in the garden before his crucifixion prayed that his trial be removed from Him and they find another way to accomplish the goal. His request was denied by God who allowed the events to occur for fulfilling Scripture. Yet Jesus established the attitude we all need to display when praying…’Your Will Be Done.
Throughout Scripture, Jesus’ prayers were always answered. But His prayers were to serve others and glorify God in the process. Even His request to change the events of the last torturous 24 hours finalizing at his crucifixion was Him complying with the desires of His Father’s heart. Though He desired not too, He yielded to His Father’s Will.
We likewise need to be careful when praying. Instead of falling into the trap believing all unanswered prayer is due to a lack of faith denies Scripture and who God IS. All prayers are answered; may not be according to our timeline, nor according to our expectations, nor according to our words. Instead, we make our requests relying on our high priest Jesus and Holy Spirit to intervene on our behalf for the best outcome of the situation we want changed.
At times God will immediately grant you your heart’s desire. Other times you may have to wait 20, 30, or 40 years for the answer. Some times God says no. And we may never know on this side of eternity if it was for our sake He said no, or for the sake of others. What we do know, God is good and loves to answer prayers so you may come to truly know Him more and more each time.
Yes, we believe God can do the impossible since he is the author of impossibilities. But taking into account all possible outcomes if my desire is granted, He is better at that than I because he sees the future. I appreciate His involvement and watching out for our best. And we have also come to appreciate praying with Him for the sake of others rather than constantly asking Him to fill my cup. He does that anyway because He is Good. He is just teaching us how to be more compassionate and caring for others through our prayers.
When we pray, we touch the heart of God. The real purpose of prayer is a means of communicating and building a relationship with your Father. We experience the inner character and attributes of coming to know who He IS. When we come to realize He is not a vending machine, genie, nor Santa Claus, but the God of the universe who wants to be your loving and caring Father, prayer takes on a whole new meaning.
The basis of prayer is belief. But a belief built upon a trustful, relationship with the living God, not only for your sake, but also for the sake of others, and always for the sake of His glory.
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