"Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them." Mark 11:24
The message this morning is intended to be very practical. We have an instrument of prayer in our hands the significance of which we do not really appreciate or of which we may indeed be ignorant. Christian and Hopeful were in the dungeon of Giant Despair, well and truly imprisoned and hopeless, and yet within his bosom Christian had the key of promise which could and did release them from their misery and captivity. I do not believe that God intends that His people should be held in ineffectiveness, as is so largely the case today. Certainly a verse of Scripture such as the text is a challenge we ought not to avoid. If we could possess the secret within the text, then doors of unparalleled opportunity would open to us. If God's people penetrated the secret of our text there would be blessing in the Church amongst young and old, blessings in our homes and far-reaching blessings such as would transform the face of the earth.
There are certain considerations that we will take for granted. We know that
no son of Adam can prevail with God except in the High Priestly Advocacy of
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is His Name that prevails. Most Christians
find no difficulty about that aspect of prayer. Their trouble is that prayer
does not appear experimentally to be such a simple matter as the text suggests.
The issue is easily blunted in our minds as if it were not crucial. But in fact
it ought to be challenging our thought until either the text is proved to be
true or (God forbid) the words of our Lord are not to be taken at their face
In the effort, therefore, to help every member of the Church to step into the full blessing of which the text speaks, let us consider the implications of our Lord's words. First we shall see:
1) THE CHRISTIAN ON HIS KNEES
Our Lord is speaking of the believer, the disciple, in the holy exercise of prayer. I may be wrong, but I judge that the Lord means us to understand that He is speaking of such desires as are in our hearts in the seasons of our waiting upon God. It may be there is a larger context but we shall be wise to restrict the promise to such desires as are in our hearts in our times of prayer.
In prayer the supreme privilege is the act of homage and adoration. The sublimest blessing of life proceeds from the daily solemn act of prostrating ourselves in adoration and homage at the feet of our Lord. Only in such an act can the whole being be so refined as to see everything in life in its true perspective. Gratitude for all that we have apprehended of Divine favour is the daily privilege of the believer. In that solemn act he enters into the holiest of all within the veil.
It presupposes, of course, that in such an act the human will is submitted afresh, without question, to the known counsel and will of God. To such a believer the will of God is the one basis of every blessing, and to court or desire anything apart from that will would be to mar and ruin the holy fellowship and sublime exhilaration that in worship attend the child of God.
Here then is the heart, refined, purified, exalted under the immediate grace and glory of an influence it could never know outside of this holy fellowship, and here it is energised with desires that are the fruit of the converging of eternal ministries upon it. Desires are not pressed upon God as coming from the earthly sphere, but they are brought to life in the heart by the inspiration of all that experience within the veil.
Let believers therefore start there. Let us make this holy exercise our daily devotion, let us set aside for the time any other desire than to know experimentally this blessed fellowship within the veil. The less we have known of it, the more the discipline required; but we may be well assured that it holds out for us boundless blessing, incalculable possibilities.
Seasons of such holy silence are seasons of exceptional grace if they are used
in the prostration of the spirit in homage. They do not have such a value if,
for example, we are in a prayer meeting to which we have come with no intention
of praying. When we are gathered together for prayer, the first concern of each
believer present should be the homage of the whole being until God has purified
the heart from every desire other than His glory. Even in desperate emergency
this should be so, and if we have exercised our spirits in this way day by day,
then the purifying of the thought and the will and the whole being will the
more easily be achieved. From that point, however, in prayer meetings, the will
of God is to be implicitly obeyed.
Therefore, let the Christian be on his knees in homage, praise and thanksgiving, for it is the prelude to infinite blessing.
2) THE CHRISTIAN IN THE VICTORY OF FAITH
The Christian on his knees will learn to discern between the permanent and the passing, the real and the superficial. We all know how easily our emotions are aroused and we are led to pray with special fervour, yet even a month later, if not sooner, we have forgotten the occasion, what we asked for, and certainly we are unaware whether our prayers have been answered or not. It seems a hard thing to say, but such exercises injure the delicate faculty of faith; for prayer without faith not only abstracts the vitality of our praying, but seriously blunts the edge of faith.
The Christian when he prays learns, therefore, to dispense with all desultory praying and instead examines the desire in his heart as in the presence of the Lord, so that he may be assured that what is in his heart is there with Divine approval. That will be quickly known by the Christian who is accustomed to his daily act of homage and devotion. If the desire is there in the heart as he is upon his knees, he may know without doubt that God intends action and victory. Whether it be the perishing of a fig tree that is useless, or the removal of a mountain, is immaterial; for he is dealing with God before Whom all these things are as nothing.
In such condition of mind and reflection he will be given the blessing of faith and, if I understand the Scripture aright, the prayer should never pass our lips until the blessing of faith is given. Let us ponder that fact carefully. Be silent until the Lord Who has put the desire in the heart blesses you with the gift of faith concerning it. If the desire is not of the Lord and we wait for faith, then we shall be silent concerning it and the desire will pass; but if the desire is of the Lord, the blessing of faith will be given. For the blessing of faith we must wait, keeping the desire before Him, and yet waiting for the signal of faith. One sees in one's own life how this lesson has not been learned, how petitions have poured forth which were but desires, laudable enough but without the power of faith. In the course of the years, for want of following the word of Scripture, desires have increased but faith itself has been blunted, and we have found our prayer life in beautiful desires which have never been energised in faith.
Faith is the victory. It is the faith of the believer that ignites the omnipotence of God. Just as the simple touching of the switch puts all the power of the electricity station at our disposal, so the act of faith in our prayers brings all the omnipotence of God into operation. The all power of our Blessed Lord in the Throne is no meaningless truth; it is the most wonderful fact with which we have to deal. Let us be sure that within us, around us, and through us there is Divine omnipotence from the moment that we ask in faith, nothing wavering. Our prayer will reach as far as the omnipotence of our Lord. The prayer of faith is in fact the omnipotence of our Lord in operation, and when we bring the prayer of faith to bear upon any person or situation, we do in literal fact subject the situation and the person to Divine omnipotence.
Faith is the weapon whereby the things that are to be, are as though they were. So it was by faith that God made the world and arranged the ages. God believed for them and they were! We cannot understand it, but faith is the master key to all the purpose of God, and according to our faith it shall be unto us.
Let us therefore resolve to wait upon the Lord, to adore His Name, to subject ourselves in spirit to His obedience until He himself blessedly fires our heart with holy desires and we claim the faith that ignites them and makes them resplendent with the might of omnipotence.
3) THE CHRISTIAN IN THE BLESSING OF ANSWERED PRAYER
"Ye shall have." It does not say we shall have at once. Glorious may be our desires and in a measure, strong our faith, and yet God would have us patient and persistent. God is always deeply moved by persistent faith. Not by persistent desires but persistent faith. We all know how easy it is to have desires, but for many of us the need is faith. We have long had the desire for revival, but perhaps we may all feel that we have need to examine ourselves as to whether we have had the faith. God is willing to give us the faith if we are willing to receive it because faith is the secret of energy for spiritual conflict, and all vital answered prayer is a setting back of the powers of darkness who will contest the ground of faith with the believer. This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. It is the Christian whose prayer is the prayer of faith that scatters the hosts of darkness, and in the engagement he must have the armour that faith supplies.
"Ye shall have them." That which was impossibility and will
be an impossibility without faith will be yours, and yours definitely. I feel
for many reasons, that we need a breath of God. We are enjoying a measure of
blessing and yet one feels the enemy is at work. There is a real measure of
unity and yet one feels that in some directions we are feeble. What could not
be done by God through us if everyone here this morning addressed himself or
herself to the issue of faith. We are concerned about the wastage in our schools,
we are troubled about the backsliders, we deplore the weakness of our prayer
meetings, some are troubled about their children and there are children burdened
about their parents. The door stands wide open to us. If everyone of us sought
the Lord in the purifying blessing of the daily homage, took hold of the desires
He placed in our hearts, permitted Him to kindle faith, then blessing unparalleled
could be ours, as it could be the portion of all the children of God.
"Ye shall have them." And that means that even as we pray, we begin to praise and thank Him. It means that as we pray, we begin to act as those to whom revival has come. It means that what is to be is already ours, and our taking it as ours now will make it ours today!
"According to your faith be it unto you." Don't let this message pass from the mind. If you do not already pay your homage and devotion daily at the feet of Jesus, begin today. Continue tomorrow and keep on with the discipline, however arduous. As the light streams in today, be sure you keep this tryst without fail. It is the initial secret, it is the heavenly spring of all blessing. Let your heart be charged with the emotions, the longings, the aspirations of heaven, and know that every one of them the Holy Spirit will energise with the faith that takes and receives. We should soon find our School Hall quite inadequate for our prayer meetings and a fleeting hour altogether too brief for such a privilege. We might have fewer societies, less meetings, less Committees, but we should have through faith the victory.
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