Prayer and Faith – Matthew 21:21-22; Hebrews 11:17-19, 33-38, 12:1-2
There are few verses that cause more confusion in the life of the modern Christian than Matthew 21:22. “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” What an amazing promise. What a wonderful God who would grant us what we ask as long as our faith is in Him. What a unique way of stating a deep, often misunderstood truth. There are several components to this statement. First we must address what faith is. The more I study and grow in understanding of who God is and what He desires from us, the more I come to find that faith is our trusting in Him being enough. Faith is letting go of things seen in hope of the things not yet seen. Faith is depending on the substance that has been promised by God in His Word, in His Son, and by His Spirit but has not yet come to pass. Faith is a gift that we receive from being in communion with God through His Word.
To put it simply, faith is Him being ALL that we want, all that we ask for, all that we pursue in this life. If this is the case, we must refer back to the “asking” aspect of the verse. Here is where many of us hit a very significant and telling snag. We like to logically progress through this verse analyzing the “asking” aspect first and letting it define the “faith” aspect. We want to have a plumb line, a measuring stick for our faith and so we will ask. We want to use this promise to disqualify ourselves from having to follow God or we want to discredit Him for not doing what He’d promised. When we play this game with this verse we miss the point entirely.
Praying in faith moves our hands off of the things in this world and places them firmly onto Him. We no longer want to hold on to things that don’t last. We want to hold tightly to Him, knowing that He will satisfy for all eternity. Just like Abraham in Hebrews 11:17-19 who proved his devotion to God by offering up his son. Abraham’s faith was in God who could give him back his son if He desired, but even if God did not raise Isaac, obedience was better.
There is something that we find very unnerving about Abraham’s faith, especially if we have children. There’s something terrifying about being asked to kill your only child. Being a parent teaches you to cling all the more to the things of this world or cling all the more to Him. Too often parents are confused by the two. They believe that if they value their child’s safety and comfort above everything else, then they are doing what God has asked them to do. This is simply not the case. The parents whose children are the Lord’s and not their own know that there will be risk in this life. We will be called to live contrary to the world, and that comes with risk. Whether they are societal pressures, economic pressures, or actual danger of disease, violence, and death – to be a believer is to invite risk.
The risk is not only to those with children. This is true for all believers. We are called to live radically different lives than the world around us. Not that all experience hardship in this life. Hebrews 11:33-38 makes that clear. Some were able to live in peace. Some got sawn in two. Both had the same faith. Both took a risk. Both put their faith on something not of this world. Both received something far greater than they could have ever imagined, and it wasn’t anything here on earth. May we all learn to live with hands firmly holding on to Him.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight , and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Let us stop holding on so tightly to the things we were never meant to hold. Let us hold on to Him with all of our might. That is what faith is all about. If He is all that we get, we have all that we need. I love y’all more than you know. Grace and peace,