It's one thing to pray; it's another to be assured you have what you ask for. What is the secret of believing prayer?
When Jesus was on earth, He made an incredible promise to His disciples regarding prayer that is recorded in Mark 11:24: "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." This promise of answer to prayer is one of the most wonderful in all Scripture. But in how many hearts has it raised the question: However can I attain the faith that knows it receives all it asks?
It is this question our Lord would answer today. Before He gave that wonderful promise to His disciples, He spoke another word, in which He points out where the faith in the answer to prayer originates and ever finds its strength: "Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever ... does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says" (v. 23).
"Have faith in God." This word precedes the other, "Have faith in the promise of an answer to prayer."
The power to believe a promise depends entirely on faith in the promiser. Trust in the person begets trust in his word.
It is only where we live and associate with God in personal, loving intercourse, where God Himself is all to us, where our whole being is continually opened up and exposed to the mighty influences that are at work, where His holy presence is revealed, that the capacity will be developed for believing that He gives whatsoever we ask.
This connection between faith in God and faith in His promise will become clear to us if we think what faith really is. It is often compared to the hand or the mouth, by which we take and appropriate what is offered to us.
But it is important to understand that faith is also the ear by which I hear what is promised, the eye by which I see what is offered me. On this the power to take depends.
I must hear the person who gives me the promise: The very tone of his voice gives me courage to believe. I must see him: In the light of his eye and countenance all fear as to my right to take passes away. The value of the promise depends on the promiser: It is on my knowledge of what the promiser is that faith in the promise depends.
It is for this reason that Jesus, before He gives that wonderful prayer-promise, first says, "Have faith in God." That is, let your eye be open to the living God, and gaze on Him, seeing Him who is invisible.
Believing God is just looking to God and what He is, allowing Him to reveal His presence, giving Him time and yielding the whole being to take in the full impression of what He is as God.
Faith is the eye to which God shows what He is and does. Through faith the light of His presence and the workings of His mighty power stream into the soul. As that which I see lives in me, so by faith God lives in me too.
And even so faith is also the ear through which the voice of God is always heard and intercourse with Him kept up. It is through the Holy Spirit the Father speaks to us. The Son is the Word, the substance of what God says; the Spirit is the living voice.
This the child of God needs to lead and guide him. The secret voice from heaven must teach him, as it taught Jesus, what to say and what to do. An ear opened toward God—a believing heart waiting on Him, to hear what He says—will hear Him speak.
The words of God will be more than the words of a Book; proceeding from the mouth of God, they will be spirit and truth, life and power. They will bring in deed and living experience what are otherwise only thoughts.
When faith now is in full exercise as eye and ear, as the faculty of the soul by which we see and hear God, then it will be able to exercise its full power as hand and mouth, by which we appropriate God and His blessings. The power of reception will depend entirely on the power of spiritual perception. For this reason Jesus said, before He gave the promise that God would answer believing prayer: "Have faith in God."
Faith is simply surrender: I yield myself to the impression the tidings I hear make on me. By faith I yield myself to the living God. His glory and love fill my heart and have the mastery over my life.
Faith is fellowship; I give myself up to the influence of the friend who makes me a promise and become linked to him by it. And it is when we enter into this living fellowship with God Himself, in a faith that always sees and hears Him, that it becomes easy and natural to believe His promise as to prayer.
Faith in the promise is the fruit of faith in the promiser: The prayer of faith is rooted in the life of faith. And in this way the faith that prays effectually is indeed a gift of God—not as something that He bestows or infuses at once, but in a far deeper and truer sense, as the blessed disposition or habit of soul which is wrought and grows up in us in a life of intercourse with Him.
Surely for one who knows his Father well, and lives in constant close intercourse with Him, it is a simple thing to believe the promise that He will do the will of His child who lives in union with Himself.
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