and Faith Movements
Prayer, Asking and
Receiving (Part 1)
Doctrines of the Charismatic Movement/Faith Movement
The Anointing and Being
Under Authority (Part 1)
The Anointing and
Being Under Authority (Part 2)
and Healing (Part 1)
Sickness and Healing
Prayer, Asking and Receiving (Part
Prayer, Asking and Receiving (Part 2)
Christians and Material Wealth (Part 1)
Christians and Material Wealth (Part 2)
Christians and Material Wealth (Part 3)
The "Rhema" and "Logos" Word (Part 1)
The "Rhema" and "Logos" Word (Part 2)
Who Speak in Tongues Necessarily Understand Themselves
1 | Section 2 | Section
3 | Section 4
| Section 5
this next section of our study, we're going to address the question of why prayers
don't get answered. The reason we are going to turn our attention to this question
within the context of a study on the Charismatic Movement is, of course, because
of the particular doctrines that the Faith Movement has developed on this topic.
In the Faith Movement, it is taught that the only limit to what you can receive
is how much faith you have and how well you live and act in faith. Under this
system of doctrine, prayers go unanswered, not because they are out of line with
God's general or particular will, but because the person asking is not exercising
enough faith or is speaking or acting in doubt. And of course, whether or not
there are limits on prayer based around the fact that some desires are sinful
is not an issue that is brought up by Faith Movement leaders, probably because
it will only hinder the assertion that you can receive whatever you ask for.
The following are some of the statements Jesus' makes about asking and receiving
that Faith Movement believers use to support the doctrine that prayer is simply
a matter of using our faith to receive anything that might be asked for.
Matthew 7:8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that
seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
11:10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth;
and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Matthew 21:21 Jesus
answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt
not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall
say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall
be done. 22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing,
ye shall receive.
Mark 11:23 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. 24 Therefore
I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye
receive them, and ye shall have them.
John 14:13 And whatsoever
ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified
in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
John 16:23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily,
I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give
it you. 24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall
receive, that your joy may be full. 25 These things have I spoken unto you
in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs,
but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. 26 At that day ye shall ask in my
name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:
3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that
we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
what are we to make of passages like Matthew 7:8 and Luke 11:10, which tell us
that everyone who asks receives? And what do we make of passages like Matthew
21:21-22 and Mark 11:23-24, which tell us that we can even move a mountain into
the see if we have enough faith and don't doubt when we ask for it? Or even Mark
11:24, which says that whatever we desire we will have it if we ask for it in
prayer and believe that we have received it?
Can Christians make a new
car or new house appear out of thin air just by asking and believing it? Or can
Christians get a new house at half price just by asking and believing? Can Christians
obtain and develop a very influential business if they ask and don't doubt? Is
our faith the only limit to what God will give us?
If we took the passages
above and isolated them from the rest of the New Testament teaching on prayer
we might indeed answer "yes" to all of these questions, just as the Faith Movement
teachers believe. But, by evaluating these general statements alongside other
statements in the New Testament, we find that the answer is no. There were, in
fact conditions and limitations for what Christians could receive from prayer.
And these additional statements in the New Testament would have been as much a
part of the early Church's understanding of prayer as the passages quote above.
As we will see, the end result would have been that the early Church including
the Apostles themselves would have understood that Jesus did not mean Christians
could receive anything at all that they desired in their hearts so long as they
had the faith for it.
Mark 10:35 And James and John, the
sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest
do for us whatsoever we shall desire. 36 And he said unto them, What would
ye that I should do for you? 37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that
we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.
38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the
cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?
39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink
of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall
ye be baptized: 40 But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine
to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.
in Mark 10, we find James and John following the Faith Movement interpretation
of asking in faith. They come to Jesus with dreams even bigger than moving a mountain.
They ask him to grant them whatever they desire. But notice that Jesus first asks
them what it is they desire before agreeing to grant it. In other words, from
the way Jesus responds we can see that whether or not they receive the request
depends in part on what it is that they are requesting. Not all desires and requests
will be granted by God, no matter how bold we are in asking.
As we continue,
we see in verse 37 that what James and John are asking for is to sit on the right
and left sides of Jesus throne when he comes to rule the world. But in verse 40,
Jesus tells them that he cannot grant this request because those determinations
are made by the Father. Therefore, it is clear that there was a limit on what
James and John could receive by asking. Whether or not James and John received
this did not depend on how much faith they had. These appointments were made by
God and no man received them simply by asking. So, here we see a very extreme
example where a person's desire is not fulfilled by God because the request is
not in line with God's will.
But notice that in verse 38 Jesus also
tells James and John is that part of the problem is that they do not know what
they are asking for. Or, in other words, they did not understand how what they
were requesting fit into the context of the rest of God's overall plan. From this
statement we can see that when Christians ask for things, they may not receive
them when those things they request do not fit in with God's overall plans. For
this reason, it is necessary for Christians to understand the overall will of
God as much as possible when they pray. Otherwise, they may ask for things that
do not fit and are absurd requests in light of God's overall will. In such cases,
they won't receive and it may end up frustrating or even discouraging their faith
because they won't know why God hasn't answered their prayer.
16:6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia,
and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After
they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered
Here in Acts 16, we see that Paul and Silas (see Acts 15:40)
desired to go into Asia and into Bithynia but the Holy Spirit does not permit
them to do so. But, Paul and Silas weren't taking a leisurely vacation trip. This
trip wasn't for personal recreation. It was to preach the Gospel and, as was often
the case, it may have put their very lives in danger to do so. This is a very
simple and even an unselfish desire. Yet the Holy Spirit did not grant this desire.
And whether or not Paul and Silas could achieve this desire was not up to them.
It was not a matter of their faith. Their desire, even this selfless and ministry-oriented
desire, was not in line with the will of the Holy Spirit and so it was not permitted.
1 Corinthians 16:7 For I will not see you now by the way; but
I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.
And just so
we don't think that Acts 16 was an isolated incident, here in 1 Corinthians 16:7
Paul again asserts that although he desires to come and stay with the Corinthians
for a while, it is not up to him. Instead, just as in Acts 16, Paul states that
whether or not his desire comes to pass is ultimately up to whether or not the
Lord permits it to come to pass. Taken together, these two passages indicate that
it was somewhat normal in the understanding of Paul and the early Christians who
read these passages that even the most innocent and selfless desires were a matter
of whether or not the Lord would permit them.
And not only is this true
for Paul and Silas, but James also adds his testimony to the fact that our desires
were a matter of whether or not the Lord permits them.
Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and
continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14 Whereas ye know
not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour,
that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought
to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
in James 4, James discusses such plans as going to a city, starting a business,
and making a profit. James actually rebukes his audience for having such confidence.
The first problem according to James in verse 14, is that tomorrow is not guaranteed
to them, much less success in a business venture. They could die that very night.
So, if even another day of life on earth is not guaranteed by God, then little
else in this life is guaranteed to us by God either, particularly business success.
And so James closes by instructing his audience that when they make plans and
have desires to "do this, or that" they must remember that whether our desires
or plans come to pass is not up to us, it depends upon whether or not the Lord
Therefore, both Paul and James agree that whether or not our
desires come to pass (whether desires for ministry or for profit) it is not simply
a matter of our having faith, but ultimately it is a matter of what God permits
and wills. There are desires we can have faith for that will not come to pass
because God does not will them and so does not permit them to occur.
And we have already examined in our previous sections concerning why the gifts
disappeared before they were supposed to and the Charismatic doctrine concerning
healing that both 1 Corinthians 11:28-32 as well as James 5:11-20 indicate clearly
that even prayers regarding healing can be kept from coming to pass because of
both individual sin and sin in the Church in general.