“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Jesus sees a fig tree with no fruit on it. He curses it and it immediately withers. The disciples were amazed that it withered at once. Jesus said (paraphrasing), “If you have faith and don’t doubt, you will be able to do more than wither fig trees.” Finally, He said “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
The prosperity gospel and Word of Faith guys turn this promise and others like it into a guarantee of worldly prosperity and wealth if we ask with enough faith. They would say that if you ask and believe with enough faith, you can “claim” a new house, new car, new job, etc. Then, when you don’t receive what you asked for and want to know why, they will tell you that it’s your fault, because you didn’t have enough faith. We must reject this false theology. Firstly, nowhere in the context here is Jesus talking about wealth or prosperity. Secondly, neither Jesus Himself nor any of the disciples who followed Him were wealthy. Not even the donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem was a new model.
However, while we must reject the false, we must cling to the true. The fact is that Jesus did promise that we will receive what we ask for. The difference, though, is that Jesus didn’t say that we will receive if we have enough faith, but simply, if we have faith.
Faith is the gift of God by grace (Ephesians 2:8). Through faith, we believe the Word of God and are saved (Romans 10:17). And when we believe and are saved, we receive the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), who changes our hearts and desires to love God and to have the mind of Christ, to want what He wants (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Therefore, if we have faith, then we will trust in God and ask Him in prayer for all that we desire and need, and those things that we desire and need will be in line with God’s will and desires, and God will give us whatever we ask for. I’m talking about praying for the needs and growth of the Church, for people to come to salvation, for the needs of missionaries, for provision for those in need, etc. This promise gives us confidence to pray – and to pray often!
Lord, thank you for the gift of faith! Thank you for changing my heart and giving me righteous desires – though I often act in contradiction to them. Please forgive my failures to resist temptation, my lack of prayer, and for asking for selfish things when I do pray. Please grow my hunger for prayer, and help me to know what to pray for.