Have Faith in God: Laying Ahold of His Promises in Prayer

Category: Excerpts

In Mark 11:22 and Jesus answered, saying to them, “Have faith in God.” This is a command, isn’t it? He does not say, ask for faith. He does not say wait for faith. He does not say, “Well, maybe in a year or two some faith will show up.” But he says: You do this. You believe God. Have faith on who? On God; it does not say have faith in your feelings of faith.

I want to read a few verses from Mark Chapter 11. Some pretty challenging verses on prayer from our Lord. Mark 11 verse 20. As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. Being reminded Peter said to him, “Rabbi, look the fig tree which you cursed has withered.” So Peter is pointing out Christ power here. Look at this big tree, it’s been destroyed by your word, and you expect Jesus to respond in some way like this. You expect Jesus to say, “Well, yes, of course, Peter. I’m the Son of God. I have the power to curse fig trees and do lots of other big things too.” But instead, Jesus turns the whole thing right back onto the disciples, doesn’t he? In verse 22 and Jesus answered, saying to them, ‘Have faith in God.’ This is a command, isn’t it? He does not say, ask for faith. He does not say wait for faith. He does not say, “Well, maybe in a year or two. Some faith will show up.” But he says: You do this. You believe God. Have faith in God.

Then he gives a giant promise in verse 23. “Truly, I say to you, whoever…” that’s important isn’t it? “Whoever…” That’s who the promise is for. “Whoever says to this mountain be taken up and cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen. It will be granted him.” So if you have this strong faith, you’ll not only have authority over little fig-trees, but actually mountains; that is symbolic of the ultimate impossible obstacle. Even mountains can be cast into the sea and then in the next verse he makes it clear he’s talking about prayer. Therefore this verse 24. “Therefore I say to you all things for which you pray an ask, believe that you have received them and they will be granted you.” This verse is difficult. This verse is challenging. It’s not difficult because the words are confusing. I think it’s really clear what Jesus is saying here. The difficulty comes in, in applying these words to our own experience and we say, well, I don’t pray that way very much. I don’t pray with that kind of confidence. That kind of faith. So what’s going on here? One thing that’s helpful is to remember that Jesus himself did pray this way. Jesus did pray with all confidence whenever he prayed to God. Think of him at their at Lazarus tomb. I mean, in terms of difficult prayer situation you’re facing, you’re facing the tomb of a guy that’s been dead for four days. That’s a pretty challenging thing to pray about him being raised, but Jesus has all confidence there, right? When he prays to the father, he says. He says, “Father, I knew that you always hear me, but because of these people standing around I said it so they would believe that you sent me.” He is totally certain that the Father hears his prayer. And so here in Mark 11 what Jesus is doing is inviting us to imitate his own prayer life, to pray for stuff with a certainty that God will do it the way Jesus himself prayed. This in verse 24 of believing you have received it when you pray. This is not some kind of mental trick. It’s not like you’re just kind of gritting your teeth and just trying to pretend that you’re really sure it’s going to happen and you don’t have any doubt. It’s not just pretending you know you’ll receive it. I mean, I think there’s people that kind of do that that you know. Pray about stuff and then thank the Lord for it. Just kind of as a matter of routine, ‘Thank you Lord for the answer’ or whatever. I don’t think it’s talking about those kind of techniques. But he’s talking about a kind of praying that I think all Christians do experience, at least occasionally. I mean, haven’t we all had the experience? Probably most of us in the last month or two, we can say that you prayed about something. You prayed about something and felt an immediate confidence that God would do that thing. And in your mind. In your mind, things shift from thinking whether God will do it too. I wonder how he’ll do it? I wonder. I wonder what this will be like and won’t this be really cool. When God does it. There is a sense that you, you can begin entering into actually rejoicing in the thing before it even happens. I think we do, at times, pray with that degree of confidence and so the verses about that kind of thing just happening more and more as we learn to do what Jesus says and have faith in God in connection with our prayers and our faith just seems to build overtime. And I think, really, this applies to more things than we realize, I mean. Anything that we are praying for where we have a definite promise in Scripture that it is God’s will to do that thing that we’re asking him to do. Well, we have every reason to pray with all confidence in that right? I mean God’s told us that it is His will. He’s told us that he will do that very thing that was as one of the points I was trying to make in my sermon yesterday is that God gives us these things in Scripture to show us this is his will. We can pray for this stuff. We can expect that of course God will do it. That’s why it’s in the Bible. Other just other promises in the Bible. How about Philippians 4:19? My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus. And now it seems like the context there is more about financial type needs, even if you limit it to that man that covers a lot of ground that covers a lot of the things Christians worry about and pray about–God providing our needs. Well, here is a promise that says he will. And so if we’re asking God to provide for our needs, we ought to be able to pray with. With a great deal of confidence, of course, God will do that. He said he would do that, and so there’s all those things kind of in that category. We have clear Scripture saying, yes, God will do it. It’s his will. We should pray with faith. We should have faith in God and those situations and then for me it seems like there are certain kinds of prayer requests that have. I’ve just seen God answer so many times that whenever that problem comes up again, I have just a lot of confidence. I can pray about I just yeah, I know there’s this problem but I know I can go and pray, I can ask the father about that and I don’t know how God is going to work it out, but I’m just certain that he will because he’s done it so many times that I’ve just developed a confidence. It’s kind of built up overtime. So for me, sermon preparation is this is in that category, so most of my weekly messages at some point get hard and in stuck in I’m struggling and needy and I’m crying out to God for help in it. But I’ve seen God helped so many times. That, I don’t know how but somehow that things are going to get unraveled. There’s going to be help and I just have confidence that he will. It’s like OK, I’m stuck, but I’m going to pray about this and God is going to help me out. I’ve just we. I can pray with confidence.

There’s a sense that I I, I feel like I receive it right when I ask for it I know I’m going to have that thing just because of my experience. I think another factor in how and how we can live in the reality of this verse comes through the help of the Holy Spirit in our prayer life. You know you know the verse there in Romans about how the spirit helps our weakness. We don’t know how to pray as we should, we need the spirit’s help in prayer. As we mature as Christians I think the spirit is helping us discern in some way subjectively or however you ever you think of it, discern God’s will in stuff and so. So we tend to pray more in sync with God’s plans rather than just praying about a bunch of nonsense that God has no intention to do and I think I think that’s a development. Also, where we’re praying more according to God’s will. And we do tend to have a greater confidence with God’s going to do this stuff. Do the things that I ask and so so I would encourage you. Even though the verses are challenging, the thoughts or challenging of course. Don’t read the verses. Some kind of just like extreme impossible deal, but as a kind of praying that is like the praying of our Lord and he’s our example. And a kind of praying that we ought to enter into more overt ime as we learn to have faith in God as Jesus says, and I encourage you to not to be content merely to say a bunch of words and then conclude that you’ve prayed about that. It’s not in. It’s not in just saying a bunch of words about a topic. But if we are interceding for something, our goal needs to be to have faith in God and in regard to that. Not just the words but the faith behind it is important. It’s I think Paul used the phrase maybe yesterday about praying with our boots on the feeling of intercession, being work. And I think a big part of that work is is. Is this thing of exercising faith, of laying hold of God’s promises that apply to the thing that you’re praying about. So we’re not just dumping out a bunch of words but there is a sense of faith and confidence. “I’m praying to my Father about this. He said he’s going to take care of this problem so I can have confidence that he will. I can pray with a sense of faith in that. And I think it’s it really is essential, I highlight one more thing here where we can go subtly wrong and that is it says have faith in God and the focus is where focuses on God, right? It doesn’t say have faith in your feelings of faith. You know we can kind of get twisted around or kind of looking inside myself, saying, “Am I feeling right?” No, our focus is on the Lord himself. That’s where the faith really grows. It’s by looking to the Lord. I mean, we know that’s true. And in gospel salvation issues. The other focuses on Christ, not what’s going on inside of me. In the same way, in terms of our prayer life, we are trusting in our God. We’re trusting in his character. We’re trusting in his Word, His promises. And his perfect acceptance of us in Christ. And so we have faith n God, as as we pray. That is all I have. Well, we will pray. I guess I will start here and then others pray as we’ve done in past days.

Heavenly Father, we do. Thank you for this new day. We thank you for the time that we’ve spent together in this place over the past few days. We thank you for the work that you’ve done. Thank you for the prayer that you have answered in many ways. You’ve answered a bunch of my prayers, and I thank you for that and I know you’ve answered a lot of prayers of everybody in the room here. And so we thank you for your faithfulness to us now and Lord more than anything. I just I want. I want to worship your name this morning. I want to begin with that with the first line of the model prayer, hallowed be Thy name today and lift up your name. Oh God, what a God we serve and you are worthy. You’re worthy of all of our attention, of all of our love, of all of our affection. You’re worthy of all of our faith and confidence in your word—and your character. Oh God, we’re glad for everything you’ve revealed to us about yourself. We’re thankful for every one of your attributes that you’ve told us about in the Bible. We’re not. We’re not ashamed of anything. That has to do with God, but we rejoice in every aspect of your of yourself. Lord, we understand that your name really represents everything that’s true about you and so we celebrate everything that’s true about you. We say that your name should be hallowed, it should be lifted up. Lord, it grieves us that multitudes around us do not hallow the name of God and do not care for you. But they pour all kinds of contempt upon your name. They use it as a common cuss word. And Lord, we on the other hand want it. We want to exalt your name. We want to rejoice in your name. We want to celebrate our God. We want to rejoice, particularly in the name of Jesus Christ as, as it says, there in Acts. It is the name above every name. The name, the only name by which we might be saved an and. So we want to rejoice in. In all the gospel realities as well that the Lord Jesus is our Savior, that he loved us from eternity, that he came to this earth to redeem his bride, that he is, he is entered into our world, that he has entered our humanity. He has taken on flesh and dwelt among us, and that he lived a perfect life and an in every way. And then he. And then he laid down that life, a spotless sacrifice, a lamb slain to take away the sin of the world. We thank you for a Redeemer in the Lord Jesus Christ that way for the sacrificial lamb. But we, we thank you; also, he didn’t stay dead.

We rejoice in the resurrection. We rejoiced that the tomb was empty on that Sunday morning and the body was gone, and then Jesus starts appearing to his disciples and eventually to hundreds. Thank you that he’s not only was alive, but he is alive now that we serve a risen savior is that he says, and that he’s in the world today. And I know that he is living whatever men may say and so we rejoice in the reality of our Savior. Risen, exalted, reigning. We want to rejoice in his name. We’re happy to say the name of Jesus Christ that he is. He is our Lord. He’s our savior. He’s the one we live for. He’s the one worthy of our lives and our all, and we’re so glad that we’re marching to Zion. We’re going to. We’re going to see him soon, Lord. And in 100 years, all of us in this room will be in eternity probably, and Lord most of us are going to be with Jesus, and we thank you for that. We thank you for that, that glorious hope that will be with you, and that we will. Will continue to hallow your name forever and ever and ever and ever and enjoy your presence. Lord, thank you for that. We have the greatest of all hopes we have. We have the greatest reason for joy of any humans and in in the world, and so we want to be your happy worshippers today, and so we ask you to help us in this in this prayer time that we might, we might pray whatever we pray about Lord would be led by your Spirit and. And that there would be a measure of faith in our prayers today because you’re a God who honors faith and who answers prayer so gloriously. Thank you for that, Amen.