Pillar Journal

Pray Believingly

When we pray believingly, we not only place our faith in God, but also in His will as expressed in His Word (John 17:17) and His promises (1 John 5:14–15)

And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
—MARK 11:22–24

Faith speaks of believing and trusting. Trusting is acting upon belief. For example, we can believe that a plank over a stream will hold our weight. Actually walking over the plank reveals our trust. True faith is trusting my life with all its cares in God’s hands. Do I believe that the Lord knows what is best for me, or that I know best? Do I become upset and distrust God when I fear that He will not do things my way, or am I upset and distrust myself when I do not do things God’s way?

Prayer requires faith: believing in God, trusting in God, and placing our expectations in God. When trusting in God, we must believe “that he is” (Heb. 11:6) as well as who He says He is. We must believe His Word. When we trust God, we desire His will to conquer our will so that it aligns with His. When we place our expectations in God, we attest and believe that God is almighty, and our hearts strive to be one with God’s will.

Verse 22 emphasizes that we must have faith first. We need to desire God and His will, in order to pray according to it. When we do not pray in faith, we pray for the wrong mountains to be removed. Many mountains exist— not only mountains of outward problems, but also mountains of our own sinful, personal desires, plans, and thoughts. These mountains often oppose God’s plan and the promotion of His kingdom. James writes, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss,” not according to God’s will, but “that ye may consume it upon your lusts,” placing your own will in the foreground (James 4:3).

When we pray believingly, we not only place our faith in God, but also in His will as expressed in His Word (John 17:17) and His promises (1 John 5:14–15). Do you believe that God is true to His Word and promises, that He will bless His Word and promises so that they will bring forth fruit? Do you exercise faith in Christ when you pray (John 14:1)? Do you trust in His person and mediatorial work, looking for Him to meet all your needs as your Prophet, Priest, and King? Do you rest in His natures, states, and benefits as inseparable from your salvation? Are you concerned for the cause of Christ’s kingdom, the promotion of His Name and His truth, that these may shape your own desires and purposes, and consume your time and energy? God’s will becomes primary and your will becomes secondary when true faith is active in your life. A living faith will generate heartfelt desires to be conformed to His will.

Do you actively place your faith in Christ? A businessman who sends out trade ships believes they will return with rich merchandise. Are you looking for fruits today? Do you have godly expectations for this week? It is easy to focus on the mountains surrounding us: mountains of unbelief, worldly enticements, wrong doctrinal teachings and balance, and our own poor understandings and limited abilities. But we are also called to focus upon who God is in Christ—One who is greater than all these mountains. We are called to pray believingly, for Christ’s sake. This is possible only when we are praying according to God’s will, praying that His kingdom may come. Then we may believe, yes, are called to believe, that the mountains that stand in the way will be cast into the sea of oblivion.

Is not God faithful and trustworthy? Has He not faithfully cared for our families and churches? Has He not provided us with abundant testimony in His providence as well as in His Word? Do you truly believe in free and sovereign grace? Can the mighty mountains of your sin, unbelief, and hardened hearts withstand the almighty grace of God? Do you believe that God can cast your mountains of sin into the sea of His forgiveness by His free and sovereign grace? We are called to pray believingly.

Excerpt from
Developing a Healthy Prayer Life
By James W. Beeke and Joel R. Beeke