“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “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.” – Mark 11:22-25
The water passage for today is a bit tangential but we will take it on anyway because the other parts of the passage contain some deep philosophical water about prayer, believing, and faith. Faith is almost as difficult to define as it is to practice. Faith is hard.
The faith we are to have is faith in God – not ourselves, church leaders, or other Christians but God alone. Apparently if we have faith in God we will be empowered to do amazing things like moving mountains into the sea. In order to be successful at this level of faith we have to 1) believe that what we have asked for has already been done for us; 2) forgive others before we stand praying; 3) accept God’s forgiveness for our sins
The first one sounds easy but I think in practice this is hard. What God is asking us to do is set aside out earthly experience about how things “work” and accept that He is the God of all these things. As a scientist this one is particularly hard for me. The scientist in me wants proofs and evidence, but God seems to be implying that we need to believe before we have proof or evidence about the future outcome of our prayers. I am not sure I fully understand this dynamic. Perhaps God simply wants our focus to be so intently on Him that the outcome ceases to matter as much?
I do not think that God wants to make magicians of us all able to do “tricks” in His name. I think the next two requirements are telling about God’s real focus here. It appears that faith is more of a posture and perspective than a practice or philosophy. God wants our hearts to be in the right place so that what we ask is really what God wants for us rather than some magical miracle. We have to be like God in His ability to forgive others and accept His forgiveness for ourselves. Why would this be important for successful prayer and faith?
There are so many voices that are constantly trying to gain our attention. We are like a radio that has difficulty tuning in to just one station. We are constantly drifting from station to station catching snippets of supposed wisdom and comfort. What God is saying is that if we get tuned in to His “station” and seek our comfort and wisdom from Him alone our will and His will converge. In that sense we will be able to do whatever we desire because what we desire will be aligned with what God desires.
Prayer: God help us to have the kind of faith that allows our will to be lined up with yours so that we can successfully as for things in Your name.