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“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 11:24–26 (NIV)
Anything we ask in prayer, as long as we believe we’ll receive it, it’ll be ours! If it sounds too good to be true, it’s not; however, we can’t simply rip this verse out of the greater context of Scripture and how Scripture always explains prayer.
Consider a similar verse: “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13 NIV).
Now, let me show you something vital in this equation of prayer. It’s the implicit message in every passage like Mark 11:24 or John 14:13 above. It’s the unspoken truth, the prerequisite key: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14 NIV, emphasis added).
Friends, we must always read such passages with this understanding: That whatever we ask for in prayer, according to God’s will, if we believe, we will receive it! This is not me putting my own spin on this. It’s the legitimate, understood expectation in what Jesus was saying. Here are a few verses to back up my point:
John 9:31 (NIV): “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.”
James 4:3 (NIV): “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
1 John 3:21–22 (NIV): “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.”
Do you see that, friends? When we pray, we must pray for all things according to His will and good pleasure as we seek to live and walk according to His will. We also see clearly in Jesus’ directive that we’re to forgive others as He has forgiven us. It’s His will that we love, treat, and show compassion and grace to others as it has been shown to us.
So, as we seek to and live in accordance to His will and way, He will be faithful to reveal His will to us. Then, as we pray according to His will, we’ll receive what we ask. And let me tell you, there is never anything you could ask for according to your will that will be better, more life-giving, beneficial, and fulfilling than what you ask for and receive according to His will, because as Paul says in Philippians 2:13 (NIV), “it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
Pause: What does it mean to ask according to His will?
Practice: As you pray this week, always approach God with an open-handed posture seeking above all His will to be done.
Pray: Father, I desire Your will over my life, Your will over my friends and family, over my community, and over this world. I pray for Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Make my desires Your desires, conform my heart and my will to follow after Yours and seek after Yours. Amen.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.