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Will God Give Me Whatever I Ask?

woman praying

By Dennis Pollock

It s hard to say precisely when the Faith Movement” began in the U. S. I would guess that it would have a lot to do with the ministry of Kenneth Hagin, who is looked upon as, if not the father of the movement, at least one of the founding fathers. Hagin was never a great preacher or orator. He was more of a teacher than a preacher, and he had a sort of country twang in his voice that didn t especially impress one upon first hearing him. He loved to tell stories of his past experiences of getting his own prayers answered, especially of the time when as a teenager he was dying of congenital heart disease, and discovered the promise of Jesus which declared that whatever things we pray for, we should believe that we receive them, and we will have them. Hagin often told how he clung desperately to this promise, and eventually received total healing of his condition.

Kenneth Hagin had a message that was vastly different from what the church had been hearing for many generations. He taught that God liked to answer our prayers, and dared to suggest that if we rarely experienced God s answers it was more likely to be because we weren t praying with faith rather than that God simply was saying no to us due to some mysterious, unknown aspect of His will for our lives. Like him or despise him, anyone who heard Hagin teach would have to admit that he had spent quite a bit of time in the Bible. He freely quoted long passages by memory and liberally sprinkled his messages with great numbers of Bible verses.

Hagin wasn t the first minister to emphasize faith and healing, but somehow he became the definitive voice of the faith movement. In time many Christians and many ministers embraced this message of faith and healing. A movement arose which challenged the prevailing philosophy of the church – the idea that prayer was a fine exercise, but we could never really count on God responding. God was God and He would do what He pleased, regardless of how much we prayed, how hard we prayed, or what measure of faith we attached to our prayers. This new concept emphasized that with prayer and faith, we have every right to expect God to answer our prayers, and further suggests that if we do not expect God to answer our prayers, prayer is nothing more than empty words, a sort of spiritual wishful thinking.

The Promises are Real

No one can deny that there are faith promises in the Bible. Indeed, the one Person most associated with these promises is the Lord Jesus Himself. Over and over He told people that their faith had healed them, implying that if they had not had that faith, they would not have been healed. And it was Jesus who spoke those words which Kenneth Hagin clung to so desperately as he lay in bed paralyzed with a heart that barely functioned: Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). Jesus went on to tell us that by faith in God, we can command mountains to move, and they will move.

There is no getting around these amazing promises. The church had either ignored them or diluted them for centuries, but with the advent of Hagin and others, Christians were forced to confront them head-on. Some simply dismissed the concept of asking and receiving from God by faith and attributed all God s blessings to His sovereignty alone. He will do what He will do, and no amount of faith you have can make any real difference. But others were forced to admit that there surely must be at least some instances where prayer plus faith will bring us blessings that prayer without faith will not.

As people often do, many took this to extremes and began suggesting that there are absolutely no limits on these promises, and that for any and every whim, desire, or impulse that we have, if we will just pray and believe hard enough, God will be forced to grant us every single request that we make. Some single ladies began praying and confessing” that some man would become their husband, sometimes when that man was already married. No problem with this in their minds. If they just had enough faith, God would break up the man s present marriage, which surely wasn t right for him, and move on him to marry them. It almost never worked, but it didn t stop some desperate ladies from trying.

Should We All be Rich?

Some people used the doctrine of asking and receiving, with a few other Scriptures thrown in, to insist that God wanted every single one of His children to become fabulously wealthy. After all, didn t He say we could have whatever we asked for as long as we believed God? So every Christian who was walking with God in faith should become a millionaire or billionaire, according to his or her faith. Any Christian who was middle class or poor was obviously spiritually lacking and without much faith. Others suggested that there was never a reason for a Christian to be sick for a single day. At the first sign of approaching sickness, we can just pray and believe, and the sickness will immediately leave. Again, any Christian who stays sick for long must be very carnal, unspiritual, and lacking in faith. Shame on them!

Some ministers became so obsessed with getting rich by faith that it became their only message. Sermon after sermon, series after series, and book after book poured forth telling us that we are all King s kids who can have whatever we want, whatever we ask, whatever we wish, whatever whims pop into our heads… essentially whatever we lust for. If you want it – you got it! Just ask and believe.

Wiser and more Scripturally grounded believers knew that this couldn t be right. God cannot be reduced to some cosmic Santa Claus who will give us every single thing we ever ask. No wise parent would spoil their children by giving in to their every lust and demand, and surely God is infinitely wiser than the best of parents. And yet the promises are in God s word. We are told to ask, told to pray, and told to expect to receive. How shall we make sense of this?

Ranch Worker

I once attended a church pastored by a man named Rob Carmen who gave an illustration which explained this about as well as I ever heard it explained. I will share it in my own words. Imagine that you work for a man who owns a huge ranch and farm which is made up of thousands of acres of land and tens of thousands of livestock. He tells you that a section of fence needs repairing, and that your assignment for this day is to go to that area and repair the fence. He says that you can take one of his pickup trucks and then stop by his large warehouse where you can pick up all the materials you need. You go there and pick up the fence materials, wooden posts, post hole digger, nails, staples, and other materials. None of this is your own. It is provided to you by your employer. You load up the truck, get into the driver s seat, and prepare to leave for your day s work. The owner of the ranch comes by, looks at the truck, and tells you, I don t think you have enough of all you re going to need, but this will definitely get you started.”

He promises, Now take this cell-phone, and if you run low on any supplies, whatever you need to do your job, just give me a call, and I will send somebody to you with anything more that you require. Don t neglect to ask. I want this job done well, and whatever you need to finish the work, you ll have it.” Assured by your employer, you go forth cheerfully to your work, knowing that He is as good as His word, and that if and when you run short of anything, a simple phone call to your boss, and the extra supplies will soon be on their way to you, with no questions asked. You will not run short of anything for long. All day long you will be amply supplied, just for the asking.

This is a near-perfect illustration of what Jesus is telling us as His followers. As children of God and workers in God s harvest, God promises us that whatever we will need for our service and our lives, we will have if we only ask Him in Jesus’ name. A place to live? Sure! Clothes to wear? Absolutely! Money to pay our bills? Certainly! The gifts, the anointing, the wisdom, the finances, the equipment to fulfill the ministry to which Christ has called us? No doubt about it! Our Heavenly Father does not spoil His children, but neither is He stingy. In fact, He is quite generous, especially when we are asking for all we need to do His work. Jesus puts it simply: Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things (all material needs, along with every other need) shall be added unto you.” He also tells us, Your Father knows what you need.” But even though God knows our needs, still He tells us to ask Him for them in Jesus name. And He assures us that when we are asking for legitimate and reasonable needs, we will have whatever we ask. This probably is not going to include becoming a billionaire or having a stable of a dozen luxury cars, and definitely does not include asking God for somebody else s husband or wife, but it does include our genuine and reasonable needs.

Dont Ask Amiss!

James writes: You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). I can imagine someone whom James is describing having a talk with the Lord: But Lord, You said I could ask for whatever I wished!” The Lord tells him, You are asking amiss.” He replies, But you said I could tell mountains to move and they would move.” God once again responds, But you are asking amiss.” He tries one more promise verse: But God, you told me that everyone who asks receives.” Once again the Lord tells him, But you are asking amiss.”

We cannot take the prayer promises of God to be to us as a free pass” to get everything we may want, regardless of the will of God, regardless of how outlandish the request, and regardless of our motives. When Jesus said we would have whatever we asked, He was talking to those who abide in Him. And to abide in Jesus is to content ourselves with His will for our lives. We are not all called to become billionaires, we are not all called to become celebrities, we are not all called to drive a Rolls Royce. But every follower of Jesus Christ, all who have been born again through faith in Jesus, and trusting in His cross and resurrection as the atonement for their souls, is called to work in His service. And as we go out for our day s work” (our lifetime of service), Jesus comes alongside us and tells us, Now if you need anything further, don t hesitate to ask. The work you do is important and I want you to have everything you need to do a good job.” Or to put it in more Biblical terms: And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). So if you have a legitimate need, ask with confidence, ask with boldness, and ask with faith! The God to whom you pray is kind, generous, and a great provider.


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