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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.”  — Mark 11:24

This has never been my favorite verse in the Bible. When I was younger, I think I wished it weren’t in the Bible at all. I wished that Jesus hadn’t promised so much, so clearly. In many other passages, Jesus seemed quite good at being unclear, I thought. And yet, here, his words seemed unmistakable, even falsifiable. Either he was wrong, I was tempted to think, or else very few of us have ever truly believed. 

Mercifully, I could never bring myself to conclude that Jesus was wrong. But, somehow, neither could I accept that true faith meant simply “believing harder,” expecting him to give like a vending machine or a genie. That wasn’t the way I had seen him work in the Scriptures, nor in the lives of his faithful ones. I had seen answered prayers. It didn’t always happen straightforwardly, but God really did give to those who asked and kept on asking. 

Aha. Ask. That was the word that changed everything for me. 

Asking is a more foreign concept to us than it might seem. Adults in the modern world don’t actually do a lot of asking. We press buttons and things appear. We take pills and things disappear. We wish for things. We work for things. But we don’t often ask, because…asking is a very vulnerable thing to do. The faith required to ask is different from the faith required to press a button or take a pill. Not faith in a mechanism, but faith in a Person, in a relationship. When a mechanism lets you down, it can be frustrating. But when a person lets you down, it can break a piece of your soul. And yet, there is no way around it. He will not give as a mechanism. He gives as a Father to a child, as a husband to a wife, as a friend to a friend. To “believe” means to trust. And trust is risky. Yet without trust, no relationship can exist. And no request can be answered. 

Imagine a child asking his father for something. If he already assumes, when he asks, that his father won’t give it, then he’ll never have eyes to see the answer. Without trust, he will miss the gift or even turn it down, like the rich young ruler. But if he trusts, then he can be at peace, knowing his father loves to give good gifts to his own. His request is as good as answered, even if he must wait to receive it. 

What are you anxious about today? Let those particular anxious thoughts spur you on to prayer. Turn your worries into asking. And ask him, not as though he were a mechanism spitting out solutions, but as a Person, as a Father, who will not fail to answer his child, as only he can.

– Ross Byrd

“I had seen answered prayers. It didn’t always happen straightforwardly, but God really did give to those who asked and kept on asking.”

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