Faith is the essential element in our relationship with God. Jesus says that if you have faith, you can command a mountain to jump into the sea. He also taught them that they must ask in his name and that their prayers must be in accordance with God’s will. Still, another way he puts it is that if they remain in him, or abide in him, they can ask anything and it will be done for them (Jn 15:7).
Prayer is the great privilege of the child of God. It is simply amazing that we can come to God through Christ, and that he grants us to ask him for things. It is also a wonderful mystery that the Sovereign God of the universe has ordained that he accomplishes his will in part through our prayers. He has a plan that involves us sometimes coming to him to change his mind about something (Ex 32:14).
The question here is what does it mean to “believe that you have received it?” Many have employed positive thinking techniques when praying, only to be disappointed. And yet, this is a promise. All the teaching of Jesus on prayer taken together points to a life of abiding in Christ and living for his name, and in his name so that we can be in line with the will of God, and he will move us to pray the prayers we will have faith for, or will “believe we have received it.”
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Mark 11:24
#1 “Therefore I tell you,”
After the disciples saw Jesus’ power to curse the fruitless fig tree and hearing Jesus make the astounding statement that they could command a mountain into the sea, he now says to them the following.
#2 “whatever you ask for in prayer,”
The whole of Jesus’ recorded teaching comes with many qualifiers to this statement. Including the one that follows. But it stands that the sum of the qualifiers adds up to this point: belief. So, whatever you ask for under those circumstances is a forgone conclusion.
#3 “believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Again, not positive thinking, belief is the faith that Jesus says comes from abiding in him and in his word. When God reveals that he is doing something, the disciple often will “just know.” God will still answer prayers when we aren’t sure. Even then, there must have been some kind of genuine belief in the asking.