As we point out in our booklet, “Teach Us To Pray!”, Christ’s
promise in Mark 11:24 is indeed subject to several conditions. In this
passage, Christ is emphasizing the absolute necessity of manifesting
living, unwavering and obedient faith in our lives (compare verses
22-23). Without faith that God will do what we ask Him for, we cannot
expect to receive anything from Him (compare James 1:6-8). But godly
faith alone is not sufficient, either. As explained in our booklet,
additional necessary aspects of successful prayer include the need to
ask; to ask in faith; to pray boldly; to keep God’s Commandments; to
bear the right kind of Christian fruit in our lives; to pray in
Christ’s name; and to pray always.
Another additional extremely
important and all-encompassing condition for successful prayer is the
necessity to pray in accordance with God’s Will (1 John 5:14). This
requires that we learn to understand and agree with God’s Will for us
(Ephesians 5:17; Romans 12:2). In other words, God must reveal His Will
to us (Ephesians 1:9).
Generally, God has shown us His Will for
us. God wills that we live godly lives (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 7) and
inherit His Kingdom (compare Luke 12:32). We also understand that it is
not God’s Will that we ask for and receive things to spend them “on our
pleasures” (James 4:3). When we ask for those wrong things, we ask
“amiss,” and God will not give them to us, even though Christ said in
Mark 11:24 that we would receive “all things” from God, if we pray in
faith. Rather than viewing this as a contradiction or inconsistency, we
must read all the biblical passages in context. For instance, we are
told that “all Israel” will be saved (compare Romans 11:26), but we
know from other Scriptures that not every single individual will be
saved–some WILL commit the unpardonable sin and be burnt up and
destroyed in the lake of fire (compare Revelation 20:13-15; Matthew
We must also realize that it may not be altogether clear
to us from the outset what God’s Will may be in a particular,
individual situation. When we ask God for His help, we must do so in
faith, and we must persistently and continuously pray for God’s
intervention, as long as God has NOT made it abundantly clear to us
that it is NOT His Will to act in accordance with our specific request.
If it SEEMS to us that God’s answer is “No,” we still need to continue
praying to God that He intervenes on our behalf–even if this would
require that God changes His mind–until His answer has been made known
to us as being irrevocable and final, with no possibility of change.
instance, just prior to His illegal arrest, Christ prayed three times,
for about three hours, in the garden of Gethsemane that the cup of
suffering and crucifixion would pass from Him (Matthew 26:36-44). Even
though He knew that one of the purposes for His coming in the flesh was
to suffer and die for us, He prayed to the Father that, if at all
possible, another way could be found to accomplish the same purpose.
But God showed Him that there was no other way, and so He submitted to
God’s Will, after an angel from heaven gave Him the strength and
comfort to face His terrible trial (Luke 22:43). And so, Christ told
the Father, “… not My will, but Yours, be done” (verse 42).
testified that he was sick–that he had been given “a thorn in the
flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Apparently, this sickness, perhaps
malaria, a serious eye trouble, or another physical affliction or
intense body pain, was caused by a “messenger of Satan” (same verse).
Paul asked God three times to remove this sickness from him (verse 8),
but when God made His Will finally abundantly clear to Paul–telling
him that He would not heal him in this life (verse 9)–Paul submitted
to and accepted God’s Will for him (verse 10). But before God made His
Will clear, Paul did pray THREE TIMES for God’s
intervention–undoubtedly with unwavering faith that God would heal him.
find another example in Scripture where Christ healed a leper who
approached Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me
clean.” And Christ responded, “I am willing,” and He did heal the man
(compare Matthew 8:2-3). In that particular incident, it was Christ’s
Will to heal–and it is God’s Will to heal us many times (compare Psalm
103:3). But not necessarily always! Sometimes, God may decide not to
heal us immediately, or not even in this life. God let Elisha die of
sickness (compare 2 Kings 13:14, 20). But when God decides not to heal,
He will make His Will abundantly clear. Unless He has done that, we
MUST continue to pray persistently in faith, without wavering and
doubting, that He WILL heal us–without being shaken by circumstances
or “human wisdom” which seem to indicate that God will not heal us.
Remember, godly faith is the evidence of things NOT yet seen (compare
Hebrews 11:1), and we are to walk by faith, not by sight (compare 2
Even when God has announced His Will to His
servants that He will do a certain thing, we still can ask God to
change His mind, if it is at all possible in accordance with His Will.
God told Moses that He would destroy the Israelites, but due to Moses’
intervention, God did not do so (compare Exodus 32:9-14; Psalm 106:23).
On the other hand, when God announced to David that his son would die,
subsequent circumstances proved that that decision was irrevocable.
Even though David fasted and prayed for seven days, his son died. But
while his son was still alive, David prayed in faith that God would
relent from letting his child die. Only when it had become absolutely
clear that no change in God’s Will would occur–only when the child had
died–David recognized the finality and ceased from fasting and praying
for the child (compare 2 Samuel 12:13-23).
In conclusion, until
we know–and we know that we know–that God’s answer to a particular
request is, “No!,” we are called upon to ask in unwavering faith for
God’s intervention and help. God WILL make it abundantly clear to us if
in a given situation, He has irrevocably decided not to intervene for
us in the way that we ask Him to. But until that final outcome has been
clearly revealed to us, we must not give up imploring God, in faith, to
give us the petitions of our heart.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link