Thursday, March 11, 2010

Taking Hold of Answered Prayer

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24 ESV)

“Therefore” is there for a reason. Jesus was teaching the disciples something very important about faith and doubt and moving mountains.

Have faith in God. 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. (Mark 11:22-23)
The truth here is that we can have what we say when we believe what we say and do not doubt it in our hearts. Now Jesus applies this to prayer:
  • Whatever you ask in prayer. The Greek words that make up “whatever” here mean just that: whatever. There is no request too big for God to handle nor too small for God to care about. The word for “ask” is about what you desire, request, crave or call for. The word for “prayer” is a form of the verb proseuchomai. It is pressing in toward God with your request.
  • Believe that you have received it. Notice carefully here that Jesus does not say, “Believe that God can answer it.” There is an often-quoted saying: “Faith is not believing that God can; it is knowing that God will.” Jesus puts it even finer edge on it here. What are we to believe when we make our request to God in prayer? Not that we will receive it (future tense) but that we have received it (aorist tense, signifying completed action).
  • And it will be yours. What we have secured by praying and believing we have received will eventually show up. “Faith is the substance [underlying reality] of things hoped for [anticipated, expected]” (Hebrews 11:1). We can expect it to come.
Now for the word of the day. I want to talk about “received.” The Greek verb is lambano. It is not a passive word, as we often tend to think about receiving something. It is active. It means to “take hold of.” Whatever we desire or ask when we pray, we are to believe that we have taken hold of it. In Hebrews 11:1, the Greek word for “substance,” hypostasis, was often used to refer to the title-deed for a piece of land. If you held the title-deed to a property, it was the proof that that property was yours.

In prayer, we are to believe, that is, exercise faith, that we have “taken possession” of whatever we have asked. We are to count it as a “done deal.” Even the word we often close our prayers with shows this. When we say, “Amen,” it is not a polite, religious way of saying “Over and out,” or “See You later, God.” It is a powerful word that expresses faith. It is akin to the Hebrew word aman, which is about believing. It is a word of assurance, as when Jesus would often say, “Truly;” in the Greek text the word is amen (actually an Aramaic term). When you say “Amen” at the end of your prayers, let it be a word of faith that what you have just asked God for in prayer, and believed you have taken hold of, is truly yours and will come to pass. That is the assurance Jesus gives.