Mark 11:24 says that “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe you will receive it, and it shall be yours,” says the Lord. Is Jesus talking about spiritual or temporal things? How does one go about believing when they are suffering?
Since we’ve heard much about prayer the past couple Sundays and about riches and possessions this week, this is a fitting question. Of course, with any reference to Scripture, it is good to look at it in context. Mark 11:24 is in the context of a discussion of faith. Jesus says, “Have faith in God.” (Mk 11:22) In addition, Jesus says “When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions.” (Mk 11:25) This sounds a lot like the “Our Father” which says, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Recall that in the “Our Father” we also ask, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Therefore, I think it is safe to say that we are to pray in faith for both spiritual and temporal things—things like forgiveness (our spiritual needs) and bread (our temporal needs)!
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” (Lk 12:15) Life is more than the things we own, and it is necessary to pray for things that are in agreement with God’s will. Jesus himself in His agony in the garden before His passion and death, prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” (Lk 22:42) Jesus is the ultimate example of believing when He was suffering. He believed that the Father’s will was best, and that through His own suffering, a greater good would come. That is our challenge too.