Mark 11:23-24 (ESV)
Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
James 1:6 (ESV)
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
I do not believe that God gives us everything we want. I do not believe that God gives us things simply because we are deluded into thinking that it will happen just because we say it will. I do not believe that God supplies on the basis of our own desires that our wishes be granted. I believe that God provides on the basis of His word. His word reveals who He is. Therefore, He provides on the basis of His character. So, what do our prayer have to do with it?
The definition of prayer for many must be changed. It is more than "talking to God." Prayer should reveal our hearts. Prayer should reveal our faith. Faith is based on the word of God. We believe because He has said it is so. Our prayers should simply repeat what God has said. Prayers will be in a general attitude, i.e.," God I know you are loving and care about my situation", and specific, "God, I need to pay my rent this week and I don't have it. Will you please help supply my need?" However, there are times we must have more than a general or specific request. We need a specific word from God which allows us to ask and state what God will do. We can do so because we have heard from Him specifically.
Elijah prays that it won't rain. He says he has done so at God's command. Jesus prays that Lazarus will be resurrected because He has already heard from His Father. There must be some times in which we have heard from God and we pray that which He has already told us. Doubt in what God has already said is denying that God is truthful and/or powerful enough to answer our prayers.
God refuses to answer the prayers of people who refuse to believe Him. God desires a people who will know Him. People cannot know Him until they have believed in Him. They cannot believe in Him by doubting Him.
Years ago I spoke to an evangelist who said, "You must believe it is so when it isn't so, so that it will be so because with God it is already so." I asked him to tell me how you know its so. He said, "First, you have to receive a word from God."
I asked, "How do I get a word from God?"
"That's the hard part," was his reply.
Most of us don't want to spend the time receiving a word from God. It may take intense prayer. It may take fasting. It may take losing sleep (remember the Garden of Gethsemene). Yet, somehow God has to speak, we have to hear and believe.
How far can we go in our prayers to God? They are limitless. We can ask Him to speak to us about anything. However, we are ridiculous in asking for something we already know God doesn't want us to have. For example: Please don't let me get caught after I rob the bank!
Listening for a word from God always exposes the possiblity He will refuse our request. He may say that He is simply not going to do so. Paul continued to have a thorn in the flesh. Jesus went to the cross. God's word spoke to them and they quit asking God for what He had revealed. Thus, the answer may not be to our liking but it will speak to our faith.
Often, we need a word from God to be the real anwer to our prayers. Are you willing to ask God to speak to you and continue asking until He does? If so, you must receive what He says by faith and you shall have what He has promised.
Faith in God's word is the key.
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