By T.M. Anderson
"... What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."--MARK 11:24.
These inspiring words of Jesus disclose that He has obligated Himself to satisfy the incessant and insistent desires of His praying people. His words leave no doubt in our minds regarding His willingness to answer our requests. He makes it plain that whatsoever things are required to satisfy our spiritual and temporal needs shall be granted according to the measure of our faith.
We must obey the fundamental law of faith by sincerely believing that we receive the things desired when we pray, otherwise they shall not be granted. It is necessary to do some clear thinking regarding our Lord's promise to give us the things desired when we pray in faith.
Some unwise persons have interpreted Jesus as saying, "When ye pray, believe that you have the things desired, and you have them." It is difficult to accept this concept of the Master's teaching about the prayer of faith. No intelligent man can believe that he has received the things desired unless he has received them. It would be absurd to make such a claim in the light of truth.
It is misleading to tell a sincere seeker after a pure heart to believe that the blessing has been received when that person knows in his own heart that it is not true. This absurd teaching leaves a man confused and disappointed. A man must receive the witness of the Holy Spirit to confirm the work of grace performed in the heart. An honest man cannot affirm that he has obtained the things desired unless he knows that he has received them from God.
We must not assume that we have the things desired. Our faith does not rest on an assumption; our faith rests on an assurance imparted to us by the spirit of truth. When Jesus revealed His provision to satisfy our desires, He disclosed the incentive to pray. He is saying, "Whatsoever things you desire, when you pray, believe that God has provided them, and you shall have them."
We must first believe that the resources of God are made available to us through prayer. If we entertain the slightest doubt in our hearts regarding this fact, we cannot obtain the things desired to satisfy us in life.
While seriously meditating on the remarkable words of Jesus concerning the things desired in prayer, let us not overlook the fact that He is speaking about the mountain being removed at the word of command. If it is God's purpose to remove all sin and sufferings from the earth at His word of command, then it is likewise true that everything required to accomplish His purpose on behalf of His people is made available to them in the provision of redeeming grace. When we see this truth we can understand God's purpose in establishing the throne of grace. Is it any wonder that we are told to come boldly unto the throne of grace? We can readily understand the real incentive to pray when we know that our legitimate desires will be granted when we pray for things pertaining to the plan of redemption as revealed in Christ. There is no provision made to gratify our desires unless the things desired are directly related to Christ's plan of salvation.
The primary purpose of the Saviour's sacrifice on the cross was to save us from sin and sufferings. It is His purpose to present us faultless before the presence of the Father with exceeding joy. It is our Lord's purpose to dry our tears for ever, open the gates of pearl, and give us an abundant entrance into the City of God. It is permissible to interpret Jesus as saying, "Whatsoever things are required to satisfy you and sustain you in this holy way of life, when you pray, believe that you can obtain them, and you shall have them."
It has not required one tear of sorrow, nor exacted one drop of our blood, nor cost us one night of sleep to provide the things required to save us from sin and sufferings in this world. The unsparing God gave His only Son to provide the things we need for time and eternity.
There are no unholy and selfish desires in the heart of a Christian. A true Christian is motivated to pray by the normal desires of spiritual life like a hungry son is moved to ask bread of his father. The child's desire for food does not spring from force of habit, it is a desire springing from the natural requirements of daily life. The incentive to pray is as normal as the desire for food and drink. The very fact that the desire exists is positive proof that it can be satisfied in a natural and legitimate manner.
There is an intense longing after Christ like the hunger and thirst of a person requiring food and drink. Such a desire cannot be satisfied with anything less than a manifestation of the living Lord. There is a desire to know more about His enduring love. There is a desire to linger long in sacred worship and holy communion with Him in the quiet place of prayer. A Christian says, "My soul followeth hard after thee ..."--Psa. 63:8. The inspired writer voiced his desire when he said, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?"--Psa. 42:1, 2. A man can earn his daily bread by the sweat of his brow, and allay his thirst at the springs flowing out of the earth, but a man that hungers and thirsts after Christ must have the bread from heaven to satisfy his hunger, and drink the living water from the fountain of life to slake his thirst.
We desire a freedom which cannot be obtained while we live in this body. We long to be delivered from our earthly bondage into the glorious liberty of the first resurrection. In this human body we yearn, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. "For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life." -- 2 Cor. 5:4.
When the eternal purpose of Christ has been completed, the saints shall be delivered from the presence of sin and sorrows which have troubled them in this unhappy earth. In that glad hour they shall experience the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
God's redeemed children have no continuing city in this world. They look for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Their citizenship is in heaven; from whence they also look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change their infirm bodies, that they may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working wherewith He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself. When these things shall come to pass, then shall we obtain the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls.