And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him . . . In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven . . . 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:7-10, 31-33 NJKV
There is an inseparable connection between prayer, the kingdom of God, and righteousness. An answered prayer begins with the foreknowledge and omniscience of God and understanding who God is when you pray (Ex. 3:14; Heb. 11:6; Rev. 1:8; 4:8). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus introduced God has our heavenly Father who knows what you need even before you ask. So, in prayer, why should you be anxious, confused, or in doubt because the need is already provided for. This is the power of prayer,
“Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matt. 7:7-8). Because Father knows, you can ask with an attitude of gratitude. No need to ever beg; seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (the character and quality of being right or justified by faith); and, knock with consistence and persistence—never abandon your prayer request. Continue to thank God for the answer. Father knows and He rewards them who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6).
In our text above, Jesus connected answered prayer with the coming of the kingdom here on earth. Therefore, every time you pray, you’re asking for a manifestation of the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:10). Prayers are consistently answered with the coming of the kingdom and in righteousness (Luke 17:20-21; Rom. 14:17; Gen. 15:6). Trust God our heavenly Father and take him at His Word. Father knows all and Father knows best!
Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. 25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:24-26 NKJV
The Scriptures teach us to have strong confidence when approaching God in prayer. If we ask anything according to God’s will, He hears us. And if we know that God hears our prayer — whatever we ask — we also know that we have what we’ve desired of God (1 John 5:14-15). In prayer everything is possible according to God’s will except for when there is doubt or unforgiveness in our heart. Doubt confuses faith in God, and unforgiveness hinders faith that could otherwise “move mountains (Mark 11:23). God first and foremost forgives us and we must forgive ourselves and others. Forgiveness flows from God to us and faith flows from us to God. Unforgiveness clogs up the flow of faith in the “prayer pipeline.”
Unforgiveness is like a spiritual poison. Poison is any substance that causes harm, sickness, or death if it gets into our body. When unforgiveness gets in our heart, a root of bitterness, animosity, ill-will and resentment toward the unforgiven one will spring up to trouble us and defile our faith (Heb. 12:15). Unforgiveness poisons prayer.
When you stand praying, forgiveness is a basic condition for an answered prayer. Could this be God’s paternalistic way of dealing with us, His children—as our heavenly Father—to administer reproof and correction? (See Matt. 6:10, 12, 14-15). When we harbor unforgivness in our heart, we deny the character and nature of God and deny His character and nature in us; we basically bind love and acceptance and loose anger, animosity, ill-will, ill-feelings, and even rejection (Matt. 18:18); and, we empower the unforgiven one and while depowering ourselves. Unforgiveness poisons prayer and our fellowship with the Father and hinders the flow of blessings when we pray (Mark 11:25-26).
And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Mark 11:22-24 KJV
Jesus instructed His disciples that when you pray (Matt. 6:6), believe that you receive whatsoever you ask for (Mark 11:24—(it goes without saying that the “what things soever” must be consistent with God’s promise). But before you can believe God’s promise, you must first conceive it in your heart, i.e., have faith in God (Mark 11:22). Faith responds to the promises of God, and the promises of God is our foundation—the solid Rock on which we stand, and faith is the key that unlocks the door to all the blessings, riches, power, and kingdom authority.
So, when you pray, how do you “believe that you receive”? When praying for your desire, lay hold of (appropriate or claim) what you believing for and reckon yourself to have the desire rather than just begging for it (John 1:12; 14:13-14; Rom. 8:14, 16). By faith, imagine the thing desired and act as though it is so (Eph. 3:20; Rom. 4:17-21; Gal. 3:29), and, do not hesitate to lose yourself in your desire while praying. Feel the joy and continue to name it, claim it, confess it and possess it (Heb. 10:23).
Caveat: when you pray, if you’re conscious of the problem more than you are of the promised in God’s Word, you’ll be rewarded with more of the problem (Matt. 13:12; Joel 3:10). “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you . . . [a]sk and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matt 6. 6; 7:7-8). Ask, seek, and knock. Conceive it; believe it; and, receive it!
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:9-10 NKJV
Social scientists have said that, “man is the sum total of his experience.” There are times when life brings varied adversities rather than prosperity—times, figuratively speaking, when the rain fall, floods rise, and strong winds blow (Matt. 7:24-27). And, it seems like there is one thing after another, and you may have asked yourself: does it ever end? I heard a great man of God say that these experiences are the CATS, i.e., Circumstances, Affliction, Tests, trials and tribulations.¹
When the bad times come, do you maintain your faith in God and hold fast to the integrity of His Word? Or, do you reel in doubt and unbelief and begin to question God and your faith? Do you foolishly and sinfully curse God and die? Absolutely not! God is still a good God during the good times and the bad, and somehow He makes all things work together for your good (Rom. 8:28). Remember, God is greater than any of your circumstances, tests and trials, and He promised never to leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5). Your choice is to decide to stand on the Rock or get rocked!
The adversities of life serves, often times, to reveal who you are as a person, what you really believe about God and His Word, and help you draw closer to God. God is always the solution to every problem and bad situation whether you understand it or not. In fact, God calls your problems in life a temporary light affliction which works for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:17). The apostle Peter taught that God is the God of all grace—the good and the bad—who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, just like Job, after you have suffered a while, God will perfect you, establish, strengthen, and settle you (1 Peter 5:10). So, the next time you ask yourself: does it ever end? Also ask yourself, do you want to be made perfect, established, strengthen, and settle. God knows how much you can bear.
¹ Bishop James Williams, End Time Christian Fellowship. Toledo, OH
So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. Mark 11:22-24 NKJV
The barren fig tree that Jesus cursed (Mark 11:11:13-14) serves as an object lesson about prayer. He told His disciples to have faith in God; to have the faith of God; to have faith as God gives—the God-kind of faith where everything is possible in prayer according to God’s will. Praying with the God kind of faith requires that you believe that you receive even before you can measurably see the answer (Mark 11:24).
Prayer without the God-kind of faith is, more or less, just religious form that is dead and empty (2 Tim. 3:5). So, what is the God-kind of faith? In responding to His disciples about cursing the fig tree that resulted in the tree withering from the root, Jesus clearly taught that in prayer you are to put your faith in God, not an outcome (Mark 11:22; 2 Tim. 1:12), and you must not doubt in your heart (Mark 11:23). Doubt enters in when we confuse what God is doing with how He is doing it (Rom. 1:17). In prayer, we must let God be God!
The God kind of faith, metaphorically, moves “mountains”, i.e., challenges, obstacles, problems, etc. The “sea” speaks of a place where the memory of undesired things are “lost at sea”, such as affliction, adversity, trouble, etc. (Zech. 10:11). This picture of a mountain moving into the sea (Mark 11:23) serves to teach that nothing is impossible in prayer when you believe that you receive (Mark 11:24). To believe that you receive requires that you put your trust and confidence in God’s Word (1 John 5:14-15), speaking and declaring the answer in the present tense according to His promise (Heb. 11:1; Gen. 1:1-3). The God-kind of faith is always now!!
“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:19 NKJV
Moses, Jesus, and Paul all taught that two can be one (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5; Eph. 5:31). Oneness is the power of two or more agreeing as one. In the Scriptures, two is the number of witness (Deut. 17:6; 19:15). In prayer, the sincere faith-filled agreement of two is more powerful than the superficial agreement of a thousand, especially when the Spirit helps them to pray according to God’s will (Deut. 32:30).
Jesus reinforced the principle of the power of two, i.e., the law of witness, in His instructions regarding church discipline (Matt. 18:15-19). The law of witness yields great power, not only in resolving conflict among believers, but also in prayer—praying the prayer of agreement. The prayer of agreement can be analogized to marriage: the two agreeing are you (the bride) and the Word (the Groom). As you agree in prayer, a “son” is born (the thing desired) according to the will of God (Mark 11:24).
When there is focused agreement in prayer, there is multiplied power and the source of that power is agreement (Amos 3:3). Never find yourself not wanting God’s will to be done; not believing God’s promise when you pray; and, not desiring what God desires for you no matter what concerns you. Whatever you ask for or desire, believe that you receive and wholly follow the will of the Lord, much like Caleb and Joshua did (Num. 32:12).
In prayer—just like marriage—when the bride and the groom are in agreement, they experience intimacy, companionship, and relationship. It takes two and the power of two, and a three-fold cord, i.e., you, the Word, and the Spirit, is not easily broken (Eccl.4:9-12).
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Mark 11:24 KJV
Prayer is like a spiritual wedding taking place in your heart. You, the believer, are the bride and Jesus (God’s Word) is the Groom. So, as Jesus instructed: when you pray, enter into that “inner room” in your heart then shut the door, and when you have shut the door to the outside world and other distractions, enter the bridal suite, if you will, with no one but the bride and the Groom and focus only on the thing desired (Matt. 6:6). The promised reward is the joy of your desire.
A wedding requires preparation and a performance of a ceremony, but the marriage isn’t finalized until consummation, i.e., where the bride and groom becomes one—the act of marriage (Gen. 2:24). Spiritually speaking, in prayer you become one with the Word that you pray. The bride feels the joy of being and possessing that which she desires; thus, prayer is spiritually performing the act of marriage and procreation (Gen. 4:1). As you pray the Word, its truth leaves you impregnated by faith. You then must die to your present condition and problems and assume the Name and nature of the answer.
Whatsoever you—the bride—believe God for in prayer becomes the joy of your desire and your belief makes you pregnant by faith (text). Faith is the proof that you are married to that Word and pregnant with the answer and divorced from the problem. Now, when you arise from prayer and open the door to return to the circumstance you left behind, you return as a pregnant bride, walking by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). If you continue to believe that you have received, you’ll begin to see signs of the pregnancy in your circumstances, but you must be willing to give up your problems, needy condition, and limitations and identify with that which you desire, and feel the joy!
And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:5-6 NKJV
Prayer is simply talking to God from your heart. It isn’t assuming a certain posture, physical position, or limiting it to some religious place. It is a powerful privilege that fills the believer’s heart with joy and hope, much like the joy of a bride and groom on the day of their wedding. Prayer can be analogized to a spiritual wedding taking place in your heart—God’s marriage ceremony.
A ceremony requires both preparation and a performance. In our text above, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught what is needed in prayer preparation and performance. Preparation begins with a right attitude, honorable intentions, and a godly motive (Matt. 6:5; Jas. 4:2-4). Next, the bride (the believer) prepares to give up her name and assume the name of her husband. In prayer you relinquish your present name, nature, and condition (sick, poor, failure, defeated, etc.) and by faith assume your true nature as promised in Word (2 Pet.1:3-4). Then, the Groom (Jesus Christ) gives his Word to have and hold, to love and honor his bride. This gives the bride confidence. Thus, in prayer you have great confidence and hope that He’ll never leave you, nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5; 1 John 5:14-15).
Jesus outlined the performance of the wedding in verse six in the above text: (1) enter into your closet, your secret place, that inner room in your heart; (2) shut the door (the outside world, distractions and the senses) and focus only on the thing desired; and, (3) enter in the secret place (bridal suite) with no one but the bride and the Groom on the day of your wedding anxious for nothing (Phil.4:6). This is God’s marriage ceremony!
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:41-42 NKJV
In John’s gospel, chapter 8 verses 31and 32, Jesus said to some Jews which believed on him, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” It is instructive to note that Jesus said, “if” you continue.” The word “if” strongly suggests that continuing to follow Christ, after believing, is a condition to true discipleship, i.e., something essential, a must, a necessary qualification, requirement, or stipulation.
The early church, as recorded in the book of Acts observed five practices after repentance and their baptism for the remission of sin (text). First and foremost, then continued steadfastly in their devotion to Jesus Christ. Unlike so many believers who started fervently out in their walk of faith but have now somehow became inconsistent and lukewarm in the things of God; second, they were committed to hearing and receiving in their hearts the Apostle’s teaching. It is the Word of God that vitally changes lives and transform minds (see Jas. 1:21; Rom. 12:2; 2 Tim. 3:16).
Third, believers related to one another with Christian fellowship (koinonia Greek word, i.e., communication, partnership, participation, social intercourse, and communion (1 Cor. 10:16); fourth, the breaking of bread was an expression that referred to both the observing the Lord’s Supper and a common meal taken with other believers; and fifth, the truly repented engaged in all kinds of prayers—talking to God from their hearts, in Jesus’ name, their redeemer.
These five practices were, and still are, the cost of true discipleship (Matt. 16:24). Like when most Jews, in the early church period, who repented and received baptism in Jesus’ name, they were excommunicated from other non-believing Jews. No man would ever forfeit his Jewish privilege short of a full conviction to continue following Jesus Christ all the way!