Summary: In Mark 11:24, Jesus said, “…when you pray, believe that you receive….” This is a key to successful prayer. But what is needed in order for me to pray that way?
Last week we talked about the importance of exercising faith when we pray. This morning we will continue with that subject. In Mark 11:22-24 Jesus instructs the disciples on the issue of praying in faith; He says, "Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive thiem, and you will have them.”i We take our theme from verse 24, “…when you pray, believe that you receive….” What is needed in order for me to pray that way?
I. I need more than just my natural resources.
I cannot walk in the flesh and get the results of the Spirit.ii In Romans 8 Paul makes the distinction between walking or living according to the impulses of the flesh verses walking in the Spirit. He is talking to Christians. It is God’s will that His people would live their lives under the direction of the Holy Spirit—that they would follow the promptings and leadings of the Holy Spirit. But it is also possible for people to be born again, but live carnal, self-centered lives. Paul explains this difference in Rom 8:5 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” A carnal Christian is preoccupied with the desires of his own flesh. That’s where his mind is; that’s where he spends his time and money; that’s where his priorities are.
If I am thinking carnally and living carnally, I cannot make the principles of the kingdom work the way they are designed to work. I can do the surface mechanical things like “saying prayers” and “confessing victory” but that will not determine my reality. If I sow according to the flesh,iii I will reap according to the flesh—even if on the surface I am doing the same steps as someone who is from the heart serving God. So last week we talked about the problems experienced 80’s and 90’s when people were going to faith seminars and trying to find formulas that would get them what they want. I won’t go back over all that. I am going to deal with some of the principles taught in those seminars, because they are valid biblical principles. But we must first understand that walking in those principles is much more of a heart issue than a mechanical issue. Proverbs 4:23 tells us that everything in life flows out of the condition of our heart—that innermost part of us that includes the will. Let me give you that verse in a couple of translations. NIV “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Today’s New International Version “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” God is not mocked. No one can get spiritual results by carnal means. In the end, we will need more than ten steps and a good confession.
So what is required for praying in faith?
II. I need to take God at His word.
I need to know what He has said in Scripture. I need to know those words were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I need to know God Himself spoke those words through chosen vessels. And when I read a promise in the Bible I embrace it as true and reliable—more reliable than anything else.iv More reliable than what society tells me. Even more reliable than what my own five senses tell me. That is the bedrock we stand on. Like the old hymn says, “Standing on the promises I cannot fall, Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call, Resting in my Savior as my all in all, Standing on the promises of God.”
Are you standing on the promises of God today? Can’t rely on our feelings; we rely on God’s word. Take for example God’s promise in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Do you believe that promise is true and reliable? Do you believe it is for you? When we take God at His word, we don’t have to have a special feeling to receive that forgiveness. We confess the sin out of a sincere heart. Then based upon the promise, we receive the forgiveness—free and clear. The sin is cast from us as far as the east is from the west. We are no longer under its condemnation.v The prayer of faith receives the forgiveness based on the raw word of God and moves on with God accordingly. 1 John 5:14-15 “Now this is the confidence [we’re talking about faith] that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will [primary source of knowing that is the Word of God], He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” Amplified says, “…we also know [with a settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possession] the requests made of Him.” The prayer of faith simply takes God at His word.