“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
When I was young in my faith, verses like these seemed like such an exciting promise. I actually wondered, So I can really ask for whatever I want and I’ll get it? Looking back, the way I’ve learned to understand the verse has had a direct connection to my spiritual maturity at any given time.
Phase one was a solely Self-centered view. I made the verse all about me – deciding on, asking for and expecting something that I want. Then, it was up to me to believe enough for it to come to me. (You can imagine how well that went…)
The next phase was a time of questioning. The failures and disappointments of my Phase One approach left me confused. So, I headed back to the verse to make sure I read it right. Turns out I did. By God’s grace, I started to think that it might be me that wasn’t right. (If I’m honest, that part took me a while…)
Finally, I began to realize my desires and motivations were not always in line with what I was learning in Scripture. And that admission made the verse come into clear focus. Jesus wasn’t promising me all the things I wanted unless they were things on God’s own heart. (Quite a radical idea for me at the time…)
I was led soon after to James 4:2-3, which confirmed the meaning for me: “you do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…” I’m not perfect in this area by a long shot. But I’m glad to experience the blessings of seeking God with a heart that’s in synch with His.
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