Looking at Mark 11:23-24, let’s explore how powerful these verses are. Truly I say to you, 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. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
This is the power of prayer, something the Lord has given us. Whatever we ask in His Name, we will have them. Those are His words! However, there are first some things we must consider for this promise does not stand alone in the Bible.
Let me start off by saying that this is not a carte blanche wish. It is not free for all, in that whatever one thinks best and prays for it, there is a guarantee that it will materialize. You can pray for many days believing with utmost faith that God will give you a Lamborghini, or a few million dollars. It will not happen unless you fulfill other essential requirements. There are many other places in the Scriptures that complement these verses by adding some key conditions, some of which are very obvious.
To Know the Will of God
What then, is clear and plain in the Scriptures when it comes to prayer? Prayer must be according to the will of God. We read in 1John 5:14, This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. According to His will; this is the first requirement.
Anyone can pray, and some can use the most beautiful liturgy and poetry, but are these prayers echoing the will of God? To know the will of God means to know God as He reveals Himself in His Word, in the lives of others and to us in our prayer time. To know the will of God requires a close relationship with Him.
It is only when we have met the Lord in the silent intimacy of our prayer, and have learnt to recognize His presence, developed reverential fear, and an acute listening ear, can we then move mountains. It has often been said that the purpose for prayer is not to get man’s will done in heaven and on earth, but to get God’s will done on earth. Prayer requires that we seek His will, not ours. So, prayer requires some work before we can expect a positive answer. This is what James means when he said, you ask amiss (James 4:3).
Furthermore, the Bible says that our request will be granted if we don’t live in sin. This was known even 3000 years ago; we read it in Psalm 66:18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear. This is plain and simple and very logical.
Of course, there will always be some sin in our lives, but as long as we recognize it and confess it to the Lord and so long as we are on our way to removing it from our lives, then we can count on our prayers being answered. The Bible says that our prayers are fulfilled if we abide in Yeshua. John 15:7 says: If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This also is very obvious and logical.
But what does it mean to abide? It means to remain, to continue, it means to live with the Messiah at all times, not one day a week or a few hours a day. In secular Greek, this word was first used to describe one who stood fast in battle. The Bible says that prayers will be granted when we persevere. We are told in 1Thessalonians 5:17, Pray without ceasing. What does that mean? Let me first tell you what it does not mean; repeated verbal invocations or constant repetition of word of phrases. This Yeshua forbade. We need to pray intelligently for all our words are heard in the Temple of God up in heaven. Praying without ceasing is when a man or woman is in constant communication with God.
Do we pray when we see or hear an ambulance, a fire truck or a police car charging through our streets? We ought to, for this means that someone or some people are in danger. If we are the salt and the light of the world, we ought to pray.
Persistence Pays Off
Remember the Parable of the Woman and the Judge in Luke 18? This woman was so persistent that this wicked judge could not take it anymore and granted her what she asked for.
And so our righteous Lord Who is always looking to bless would hear and respond to our continued requests even that much faster. Would He not grant the answer that is best for our circumstances?
Prayer is such an essential element of our lives as believers. We are not told that Jesus taught His disciples how to preach, how to be hospitable, or how to do many things. But He did teach them how to pray. If we get prayer right, the rest will flow and with it many blessings. It shows when a believer has a life of prayer. It shows when he or she does not.
But now, there is one thing that the LORD adds to the requirement for answered prayer, something we may have lost sight of. It is forgiveness. See the next verse in Mark 11:25 but I am going to quote only the first words: Whenever you stand praying, forgive.
What does forgiveness have to do with prayer? Have you thought about it? The whole concept of prayer to God is based on the fact that He forgave our sins. His forgiveness allows us to come to His throne with our prayers. If we pray and have not forgiven someone, then we are neglecting to incorporate the very act that brought about our own privilege to pray.
Do you remember the story of the man who owed something like 120 billion dollars? That is a lot of money. But, lo and behold, the person to whom the money belonged, suddenly forgave him his debts. That was very kind. But, as the story goes on, we learn that someone else owed this forgiven man, an amount of about $20,000. He got so angry, that he laid hands on him and took him by the throat saying, “Pay me what you owe” (Matt. 18:28).
Ten Thousand Reasons
Is this fair? He was forgiven a debt of about $120 billion and does not forgive a debt that was 6 million times lower! That is the story the 10,000 talents in Matthew 18. When the person who forgave the man of 10,000 talents was to find out, what do you think would happen? What do you think the Lord would do when He receives our prayer in light of the fact that He gave His only Son to come and die for us, yet we have no place in our heart to forgive the other of a much lesser crime. Let me tell you what Yeshua said: Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you? Matthew 18:22. In simple terms it means, don’t expect much. Forgiveness is therefore one essential requirement for prayer to work.
Let’s read all the words of the text from Mark 11:24-26, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” Notice the last words; if you don’t forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your transgressions.
This forgiveness has nothing to do with our salvation; if there were conditions, then it would be salvation by works. It has to do with the blessings we receive from the Lord; and many of these blessings are being held up, right now, because of our unforgiving spirit.
Or perhaps we are receiving blessings by singular droplets, reflecting the way we forgive, only drop by drop. Have you ever thought of it this way; that our happiness depends on the way we forgive?