Monday, September 19, 2011

From My Messy Heart

"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, 
believe that you have received it, 
and it will be yours."
Mark 11:24

I have no idea what to make of this verse.

I battled with it all summer.
I've listened to sermons on it. I've prayed about it, 
etc, etc, etc....
I just don't fully understand it.
And I'm a sinner, so maybe I never will.

So far, in relation to this verse,
God has taught me that it does not mean we can just ask for whatever the heck we would like to have and have it.

"Dear God, I would just really like for you to give me a green pair of brand new Hunter rain-boots, as well as, a brand new pair of Ray-Ban Clubmasters (tortoise, please, God), and I fully believe that you are going to give them to me because you can."
+new Hunter rain-boots on my feet. new Ray-Ban Clubmasters on my face.+

... I understand that this is not at all what this verse means.

But so far, God has also taught me that when we pray for things that glorify Him,
He says yes...

but to what extent?

Wouldn't it glorify the Lord for Him to take away the cancer?
Wouldn't it glorify the Lord for Him to heal the broken marriage?
Wouldn't it glorify the Lord for Him to provide the needed money?
It would.
And yet.... Look around.

I don't "get" God.
I don't at all understand what He's up to in His plans for my life and others', and to be perfectly honest, I don't always think His ideas are the best ones.
(And if you're being perfectly honest, you don't think so either.)
I'm not saying His ideas aren't the best ones.
They are.
... but being the sinful, messy, and un-omniscient human-being that I am,
I just don't always see how they are.

I hate my flesh.

... but going back to the verse.
... There's a lot of ideas that I have about things God could employ in my life that I think would very much glorify Him.
I ask him for these things.
A lot.
I stopped for a little while, but I felt dishonest with Him.
So, I recently (last night, recently) started asking again.
... But I'm afraid to believe that He might actually say yes.

Because what if He doesn't?
What if He says no?
What if God has a much better idea of how to glorify himself?
What if these things that I think would bring Him so much glory, wouldn't actually bring Him any glory at all?

I hate my flesh.

I'm a coward.
I'm afraid to be disappointed.
I'm afraid I'll end up broken and angry at God.
I'm afraid I'll say, "But, God, you promised..."
and I don't want to say that.
I don't want to be wrong. I don't want to be humbled.

And that's just messy me.
That's why I (we) need grace.
Because sometimes most times, I'm afraid to grow.
Even though that's the best thing for me.


What do you think of this verse?
I want to know. 
Let's learn together.
And to my dear friend, Anonymous:
I'd like as many comments from you as you deem necessary.


  1. 1) You don't know me. But I "know" you. I know your mom & her family. Your mom actually used to babysit me & my dad & your granddad (Harold) worked together. Your grandmother, Opal, was one of the best people I have ever known. So hi, I'm Robyn, I live in Vestavia, went to Auburn, originally from Montgomery, etc. Now hopefully a comment from a stranger won't be so strange. :)
    2) You're brilliant. And I love your heart.
    3) I struggle with the same thing - and I think you nailed it on the "what if He says no?" part. We have a human, conceited, product-of-the-fall, idea that what we want = what would glorify God best. I think that sometimes God uses things like losing a loved one to cancer to glorify him more than keeping her alive. Do I like it? No. But am I called to praise? Yes. And if praising through tears can bring Him the most glory, then so be it.
    4) I PRAY that I have as few "praising through tears" opportunities as possible. I prefer praising through laughter. And I'm not the most brave person ever. But this is where we have to have faith that God will take care of us. Period. Because once we understand that, praising Him becomes less of a "have to" and more of a "want to." That's where I want to be.

  2. Robyn! It's so nice to "meet" you! Thank you so much for your wisdom and insight and love! I think everything you said is absolutely right! Thank you so much, again, and I'm so glad I could learn from you today! :)

  3. Dear Rosemary,

    I’m posting under anonymous because to take my physical name and identity out of the equation. I ask that you wouldn’t focus on trying to figure out who I am or how we know each other. Rather, I want you to focus on the words that the lord has laid on my heart. So I’ll give you two things you need to know:

    1. I’m not the person trolling your blog posts.
    2. We know each other.

    With that out of the way, let’s dive into the verse.

    It seems like you’re really close to breaking thorough into understanding this verse. It indeed has nothing to do with our own selfish physical motives (fame, money, power, possession). Rather, Mark 11:24 is an absolutely beautiful promise that Jesus gives us to fight against spiritual oppression and sin. Let me try to elaborate.

    God knows your intentions. He made you. He made everything. He knows things about you that you don’t even know (how’s that for a mind-bender?). So, when you go to God in prayer and ask for something, he knows your intentions and motives behind it. There’s no fooling him. There’s no magic phrase that yields what we want either.

    So then the question comes, “Then what qualifies as a legitimate prayer and request to God?”

    Look at the verse.

    It says, “I tell you, whatever you ask in PRAYER, BELIEVE you have received it and it will be yours.”

    Look at what you define as prayer. Is prayer your selfish and desires and wants? We all find ourselves in this place constantly. However, we must clear our minds of selfish intentions and focus on the divine. Make prayer your cry to the lord for help and dependence. For me, this thought completely turned my spiritual life on it’s head.

    With this, Mark 11:24 suddenly becomes one of your greatest weapons against Satan. It allows us to pray for healing in the brokenness in our life. We can receive a peace beyond all understanding (Philippians 4:7) because of it. It’s our greatest safeguard against lust, against temptation, and sin in general! Anything request in this spiritual mindset can be and WILL BE answered. This all comes if we believe. However, Matthew 17:20 throws an interesting thought into the mix. Jesus tells of faith the size of a mustard seed (Google image search one, it’s crazy) moving mountains.

    This assures us that nothing spiritual is impossible to ask for and receive.

    That’s what I have on my heart in regards to elaboration on the verse.

    As far as physical things go, (pain, suffering, desire for healing) I’ve been comforted by one verse constantly. It’s Colossians 1:15-17. It deals with the supreme power and authority of God. It’s about how he holds all things together. It’s a far deeper concept that can be answered in a simple blog comment (I think around a sea of books written on it might begin to scratch the surface of what it means).

    Pray for understanding and desire for scripture. It’ll change the way you read the Bible.

    I pray that this finds you well and that it doesn't come down in a lie of condescension, but rather a spirit of encouragement and peace.

  4. Rosemary...
    Thank you for writing... you have a gift of expression that is very rare amongst bloggers. I agree with you- this is a hard verse. It's so easy to look at it and think that we can have whatever we want, if only we believe hard enough... but you and I both know that's false. The Enemy would have us believe that God's failure to accomplish in our lives those things WE believe to be in the interest of God's glory is just another example of His impotence as a divine being. What I DO think maybe Jesus was saying here is that we are weak, and he is strong. Remember Abraham? "[He] believed, and it was counted to him as righteousness". We have nothing to offer our heavenly father, and the only currency He accepts is righteousness. So first of all, I believe that for those who thirst and hunger enough for Christ-like righteousness to ask for it in prayer, it will be given. Second, what was the common theme of all Jesus' prayers? "THY will be done". If we are praying, without ceasing, in the way we are taught, the premier value of our prayers will be the accomplishment of God's will for ourselves and the world around us. It seems to my shallow, narrow, finite mind that these are the only two prayers we are ever guaranteed to have answered in the affirmative in scripture.