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Do I Keep Asking?

Todayís Question: Perhaps you can clarify something about prayer. There are many references (Mark 11, Matt 21, 1 John 5) to the instruction that we are to believe we receive something when we ask for it. Therefore, it appears we should ask for something once, and then after that, I (presume) we are to confess that we believe we have it until it is manifests.

This seems to conflict with Luke 11 and Matt 7 as some versions say to "Keep on asking." There is also the story of the woman and the judge relating persistence in asking.

I know that somehow this does all fit together, as the Word would have no conflict. Can you please comment and clarify this?

Chris

Bible Answer: There are times to keep on asking: for example intercession, which is prayer for others. Intercessory prayer demands continual asking. The reason this is so is because you canít receive for someone else. You can only pray for others.

The passage in Mark 11:24 says, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." This is a personal proposition. Jesus is saying you can receive for yourself whatever you ask for in prayer. You canít receive it for others. Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. As you can see, this is dealing with personal requests for yourself.

When I pray for my individual needs I can pray and believe I receive. When I do, I am persistent, not in asking, but in thanking God for my answer.

However when I pray for others, I must keep on asking. Paul writes when praying for others:

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (Eph 1:16-17)

Paul kept on asking. Paul also encouraged praying with thanksgiving.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil 4:6)

Thanksgiving is gratitude for a gift given or promised. If you came to me and said, "Pastor Brown, I am going to send you a gift of a hundred dollars." What should my first reaction be? I would immediately thank you, even though I havenít seen the money.

What would you think if I responded, "Wonderful, when I see the money I will thank you for it!"? That response would not only be rude, but it would show you the lack of trust I have in you.

How would you feel if I constantly harassed you about the promised gift? I keep emailing you asking when you are going to send it. I would be showing my lack of trust in constantly asking you about the gift. If I showed that I trust you I would tell my wife, "There is a check coming in the mail, look for it." If we truly trust God we would tell others the answer is coming, and simply have peace that the answer is on its way.

You can do the same thing about Godís promise to meet your needs. He has promised to answer your prayers. You have asked for something that God has promised. So you simply thank God everyday for the answer. Instead of asking God for the same thing, you simply thank Him in advance for the answer.

Hereís another example: you apply for a job, and when the boss says, "I hire you," you immediately thank him, even though you havenít seen one pay check. You might even tell everyone that you got a new job, yet you havenít worked one hour. That is faith. You donít keep reapplying for the job you got. In the same way, you donít keep asking God for the thing he already promised you. Instead, you thank Him for it, and make plans before the answer materializes. You donít worry or bite your nails, wondering if God will come through. He already has come through by promising you the answer. Your response is to believe you have received it.

The thing many people have done with the passages about continually asking is they try to apply it on a personal basis, instead of applying it to intercession. Or, as in the case of the widow woman and the unjust judge, they forget that prayer is more than asking; it includes thanksgiving.

If we had an unjust judge as our Father, than we might have to constantly harass him until he gives in to our requests, but we have a just Father who will see that we "get justice, and quickly" (Luke 18:8)ónot like the unjust judge who constantly delayed justice. The only reason the woman had to constantly keep asking for justice was because the judge kept delaying and refusing her request. That is not like God.

Jesus showed how persistence can get the job done with unjust judges, so how better are we since we have a just judge. Our persistence should be manifested in quiet confidence that the answer is guaranteed, not in screaming out to God everyday for the same thing.

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