“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:23,4
This week I came across a good brief commentary on this text. In part:
If ever there were a proof text for the “name it-claim it” crowd, this is it. In fact, entire theological systems and faith movements have been built by a few verses like these and others strung together. However, I think any biblical interpreter worth his or her salt would quickly say, “Not so fast!” My dear friend, Dr. Ben Witherington III, often puts it this way, “A text taken out of context becomes a pretext for anything you want it to say.”
So what’s going on here? Remember, we are coming to the end of the three year period of discipleship for the twelve. They have been schooled in the nature of the sovereignty of God. They have been taught and trained in the ways of the Kingdom of God. And let’s remember the bigger context at work. Just yesterday, Jesus cursed the fig tree and cleaned house at the Temple. In contrast to the religious machinations of the Temple in which Israel placed so much confidence, Jesus tells his disciples to
“Have faith in God,”
As they stood there on the Mount of Olives looking at the withered fig tree that would indeed never bear fruit again they couldn’t but help to have seen the towering Temple across the valley in the mighty Jerusalem. Jesus in essence told his disciples the whole project had become a house of cards that would soon come crashing down. Don’t have faith in the corrupted system. “Have faith in God.”
This is the big deal—the whole point of discipleship. As they followed Jesus, he showed them what God was like every step of the way. Discipleship is learning by Word and Spirit who God is and what God is like. It is learning to trust the true God. This is manifest through a life of prayer, which is the hidden way the life of faith works. The way of faith depends on the life of prayer as one’s heartbeat depends on one’s breath. Dr. William Lane, one of my teachers through this Gospel of Mark said it well: “When prayer is the source of faith’s power and the means of its strength, God’s sovereignty is its only restriction.”
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
When a follower of Jesus lives immersed in the Word of God and is animated by the Spirit of God, their prayers—with ever increasing resonance—ring true to the will of God. God funds his will through the faith-filled prayers of his people. Here’s what this text is all about: We must learn to think of prayer not in the terms of the power of our faith but the framework of the faithfulness of our God. Prayer is that constant abiding conversation Jesus wants to have with us all the time. It is simpler than we could ever have imagined yet more consuming than we can conceive. With [this] text, Jesus teaches us what it means to be people who live and love with power.
Read it all here
One of my favorite prayers when I am at a loss for other words.
” Beautiful music, beautiful camera work, like a kaleidoscope at times.” This video is delightful.
Terez Rose writes about this much loved piece of music:
In the second act of Engelbert Humperdinck’s opera, Hänsel und Gretel, composed in 1892 and first performed on December 23, 1893, there is a treasure that will live forever in the hearts of countless listeners. Called “Abendsegen” in its original German and “Evening Prayer” in English, it’s also known as “The Children’s Prayer.” In the opera, it is what Hansel and Gretel sing before they go to sleep, alone and lost in the woods. The song conjures so many powerful emotions and nuances: the bravery of two scared kids; the comfort of a ritual song or prayer; their faith and hope, and the beauty of all these things (not to mention the stunning music) that arises, like a mystical force, to blanket and protect the two lost children. Humperdinck and his sister, Adelheid Wette, who wrote the libretto, have made it more than “a mystical force.” Fourteen angels take the stage in the opera, in the scene following the children’s song, where they gather round and protect the children, a prayer come to life.
When at night I go to sleep,
Fourteen angels watch do keep,
Two my head are guarding,
Two my feet are guiding;
Two upon my right hand,
Two upon my left hand.
Two who warmly cover
Two who o’er me hover,
Two to whom ’tis given
To guide my steps to heaven.
I found a new (to me) hymn this morning in Hymns of Grace. Titled “I Plead For Grace,” it is an adaptation of Psalm 51 by Joseph Tyrpak, and is paired with a familiar hymn tune, Morecambe. If you would like to sing it Mr. Fleischer’s piano rendition is a nice accompaniment.
I Plead For Grace
I plead for grace,O God of steadfast love;
By Your great mercy, all my sin remove.
Deeply ashamed for spurning You alone,
I stand condemned before your holy throne.
Though you want truth and purity within,
I am unclean, conceived with inborn sin.
Purge me with blood, and wash me white as snow.
Hide my transgressions; heal my broken soul.
Create in me a spotless heart, I pray.
Take not Your Spirit! Cast me not away!
Restore to me salvation’s joy anew,
Then I will teach the lost to turn to You.
Save me, O God with blood my hands are stained!
Open my lips to praise Your righteous name.
Though You reject a thoughtless sacrifice,
My broken, contrite heart You’ll not despise.
Lord, in Your goodness, build up Zion’s walls.
Let not my sin tear down Your glorious cause.
May You delight in ev’ry sacrifice,
Offered by sinners You have purified.
God can be just and sinners justify
For Jesus bled God’s wrath to satisfy.
My sins the spikes that nailed Christ to the tree—
God’s love and justice there for all to see.
Gracious Father, we humbly ask on behalf of your Church. Fill it with all truth; and all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purge it; where it is in error, direct it; where it is superstitious, rectify it; where anything is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen and confirm it; where is in need, furnish it; where it is divided and torn apart, unite it, O Holy One of Israel.
Archbishop William Laud
Thanks to Trevin Wax’s Prayer Room
A Latin hymn from the 7th or 8th Century, it has gone through several translations. This one comes from the 1986 New English Hymnal.