Monday, February 15, 2010

Knowing God - Mark 11:24

(from pastor)
Have faith
that whatsoever your ask for in prayer
is already granted to you,
and you will find that it will be.
Mark 11:24
The tendency when reading such promises of Jesus is to hedge our bets. The best -- and reasonably faithful -- hedge is, "If your faith is fully, completely, and totally aligned with God and if you precisely then ask in his will, then, yes, maybe then it is guaranteed."
Why do we fudge, hedge, and qualify? Because we've all had prayers that seem to go unanswered.
But Jesus doesn't hedge. He simply says ask, trust, believe.
I have been reading lately the great old teacher of prayer, Andrew Murray. His works are online. If you want a better answer than I could ever give, read what is below. It is from chapter 11 of "Christ in the School of Prayer." (click to read in entirety)
What a promise! It is so large, so Divine, that our little hearts cannot comprehend it. In every possible way we seek to limit it to what we think is safe or probable. ... If we would allow it, that promise would enlarge our hearts to receive all of what His love and power are really ready to do for us.
Faith is very far from being a mere conviction of the truth of God's Word or a conclusion drawn from certain premises. It is the ear which has heard God say what He will do and the eye which has seen Him doing it. [Let us pray, therefore, in] joyful adoration [to the] God whose hand always secures the fulfillment of what His mouth has spoken.. [For] where there is true faith it is impossible for the answer not to come. ...
[Now,] our human wisdom [frequently] begins to doubt and say, "This can't possibly be literally true." But if it isn't, why did the Master say it? He used the very strongest expression He could find: "All things whatsoever." And He said it more than once: "... all things are possible to him that believeth" (Mark 9:23); "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed... nothing shall be impossible to you" (Matthew 17:20). The tendency of human reason is to intervene here with certain qualifiers, such as "if expedient," "if according to God's will," to break the force of a statement which appears dangerous. Beware of dealing this way with the Master's words. The whatsoever is unconditional except for what is implied in the believing. Believing is the exercise of a soul surrendered to the influence of the Word and the Spirit. Let us pray that we do not limit Christ's "all things" with what we think is possible. Rather, His "whatsoever" should determine the boundaries of our hope and faith.
It is in prayer that Jesus teaches and inspires faith. [But] the weakness of our faith becomes obvious as we pray, [and] faith [grows] by the confidence with which we persevere. Whoever loses heart in prayer because he doesn't feel the faith ... will never learn that faith.
Nothing honors the Father like the faith that is assured that He will do what He has said .... Such faith takes its stand on the promise delivered by the Spirit. "Believe that ye have received." You may not actually see it manifested until later. But now, without seeing it, you are to believe that it has already been given to you by the Father in heaven. [So] persev[ere because] only God knows when everything is fully ripe for the manifestation of the blessing that has been given to faith. Elijah knew for certain that rain would come. God had promised it. And yet he had to pray the seven times. That prayer was not just for show. It was an intense spiritual reality both in the heart of Elijah as he lay there pleading and in heaven where it has its effectual work to do. It is through faith and patience we inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:12). Patience perseveres in prayer until the gift bestowed in heaven is seen on earth.
[But if we're honest,] we [often] feel afraid that our feeble faith will still not be able to grasp what is so clearly placed within our reach. One thing must make us strong and full of hope: It is Jesus Who brought us this message from the Father. Jesus is our life. In us He is everything now that He was on earth. [Read that again.] In us He is everything now that He was on earth. He really gives everything He teaches. He is the Author and the Perfecter of our faith. He gives the spirit of faith. Don't be afraid that such faith isn't meant for us. [It is] meant for every child of the Father. [I]t is within the reach of anyone who will be childlike, yielding himself to the Father's will and love and trusting the Father's Word and power. ... Lord, teach us to pray!
In Christ's Love
a guy who wants to drive a bulldozer
(or actually have the kind of faith that moves mountains without power equipment)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
"simply says, ask, trust, believe." There is NOTHING simple about that. I have never been good at the trust game where you fall backward and hope the person behind you will catch you.  I am also slow to believe.  If the sign says, "Wet Paint," I will touch a corner to be certain.  I need to see something. To the texture. Hold the weight. Trace the contours.  Smell it.  Take note of the details.  Experience it.  So simply trusting and believing is anything but...

And praying as if what you are requesting has already been taken care of? That is almost beyond what I can wrap my brain around.  I have never thought too much until recently about the nebulous 'God Time' he exists in.  In one moment He was, is and will be.  Something I can't try to understand. Just accept. Believe.

"Believing is the exercise of a soul surrendered to the influence of the Word and the Spirit."  And again I need to pray, Lord I believe. Please help my unbelief!  I have been asking God to teach me to pray. Begging. pleading with him.  Am I too stubborn? Too jaded? Too afraid to just let go and know that God will catch me?  Yet people say that my faith is an inspiration or encouragement to them.

What faith?

Oh God, please let me see my own faith in you as others see it.  Encourage me. Grow me. Shelter me. Please don't give up on me.  Please help my unbelief.

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Speak gently. carefully. thoughtfully. graciously. humbly.

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