“I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24 NLT)
In some ways I believe we tend to “water down” the things Jesus says to us in His Word. We too often want to “spiritualize” verses like the one above until we choke the life out of them. What do I mean?
In the two verses that frame the above verse, Jesus is talking about having faith in God and forgiving those against whom we are holding a grudge. One is, for lack of a better term, ethereal, but the other is very practical.
In verse 23 Jesus tells His disciples: “I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.” Is He speaking of “spiritual” mountains? Possibly. But I choose to believe He was speaking literally. So, if you’re a pragmatist, you may be thinking: “Of what value would it be to throw a mountain into the ocean?” Maybe it would make your journey easier! I don’t know for sure.
But what I do know is we sell the power of faith far short. I mentioned in a post a few days ago that I wrestled with lust for years, but God finally took it away in an instant. Was God slow to answer? No, I was “slow” to ask. What’s my point?
Often, we choose to deal with addictive behaviors for years, not because God isn’t able to deliver us, but because we’re not willing to give them up. Lust, pornography, alcohol, drugs, gossip, fear, worry, and on and on they go. Behind the guilt, shame, embarrassment, helplessness, and hopelessness is a very strong desire that we enjoy and don’t want to give up. “That’s sick!” you may be thinking. And you’re exactly right.
Sin is sickness that we crave, but secretly don’t believe we can live without. Yes, of course, there are moments, usually when we’re “caught” or the addiction bumps into a relational or legal matter, when we desperately wish we weren’t in the circumstance we’re in. But when the moment passes and the “heat” is no longer boiling us alive, we revert to our old habits.
Habits die hard, and sin, in whatever form of habitual behavior it takes in us, is the worst habit to break. But what’s impossible for man is possible with God. But you must allow Him to change your heart.
Behind strong faith is the same thing that drives strong addictions – desire! Desire isn’t the problem, it’s the object of that desire. In the King James Version Mark 11:24 says: “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them.”
That word “desire” can also be translated “beg, require, crave, call for,” which can paint a different picture. We may desire God to heal us, but we crave our addiction. God will not violate our will to do something we really don’t want Him to do, even when we mouth the words, He hears our heart’s cry.
When my first wife told me she was leaving, my heart changed – radically! Before, my lustful heart thought nearly every other woman I saw was more beautiful and attractive than my wife. When my heart changed, my wife suddenly became the most beautiful woman on earth. Did she change? No, I did, but it was too late. Satan loves it when that happens.
Satan will couch sin in very attractive packages, but the deeper we get into the “package,” the uglier and more sinister it becomes, and the harder our heart becomes. Is there hope?
Let’s look at this more closely tomorrow.
Blessings, Ed 😊