Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. — Mark 11:24
Prayer is undeniably one of the most important teachings of Jesus. Jesus taught his followers how to pray, and he showed them the power of prayer throughout his ministry. Unfortunately, today many of us have lost the power of prayer. We pray to God, and often, as soon as the words have left our lips, we forget that we have said them. We forget that we have asked God to do something, and we go about our lives. This attitude takes the power out of prayer and numbs our faith.
When we pray, we must believe that God is hearing and answering, and we must stay alert and be prepared to see signs of how He has answered (even if it’s not the answer we’d hoped for or anticipated!). Sometimes this may come in a big way, like a healing miracle, but other times it might be a smaller sign like a comforting word or a seemingly ordinary gesture that has a deeper meaning for you.
We are not the only ones that suffered the difficulty of believing in the power of prayer. The early church had the same problem. The book of Acts tells us that when Peter was in prison, many people were gathered together praying for him. During the night, as Peter lay bound by chains, under heavy guard, the Lord sent his angel, who broke Peter’s chains and lead him out of the prison. When Peter realized what had happened and that he was free, he went directly to the house where the believers had gathered to pray and knocked on the door. The servant girl of the house went to answer the door, and when she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that she ran back without opening it and announced to the others, “Peter is at the door!”
The rest of the prayer party insisted that she was out of her mind, but Peter kept knocking until finally they opened the door, saw him and realized that it was really him. This group had been gathered together with the primary purpose of praying for Peter’s release; and yet, when their prayer was answered, they refused to believe it. They had been praying for something, which it seems they didn’t believe could happen!
We often pray in the same manner – limiting God to what we can understand and not ascribing to him the mighty power which He really has. When we learn to believe, not only in theory, but with all of our heart and spirit, we will be able to pray the way that Jesus did. Jesus was never surprised when His Father answered His prayers. He was waiting for it, expecting it — confident that God would do all that He asked and more. Thus, we should never be surprised when God answers prayer—happy, overjoyed, thankful, yes – but surprised no! Why? Because we pray believing that we have already received.