“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” — Mark 11:24
My best friend Michelle is an amazing prayer warrior. She taught me how to pray, encouraged me to pray out loud, and presents a beautiful example of how to pray with boldness each time she prays. What’s even more amazingly beautiful is she gets it from her mother, another powerful prayer warrior I have the honor of knowing.
While I’m typically a fast learner, I can sometimes be slow on the uptake. One of the things concerning prayer Michelle taught me was claiming things in the Lord’s name. Before this weekend I understood what this meant by definition but when it came to applying it to my life I faltered. It’s the difference in knowing what division is in mathematics and knowing how to do it longhand.
This past Friday, though, it finally clicked. I was attending a choir concert to support a friend who was performing. They had a pastor that night deliver a message to the audience and, while his main topic was unity, he touched on forgiveness. He said something to the effect that if we believe we are forgiven then we must act like we’re forgiven, meaning if we didn’t act forgiven then how were those who we share the Gospel with going to believe Jesus forgives?
That’s when the lightbulb went off and the pieces fell into place. To act forgiven, we must first believe we are. To believe, we must be bold enough to claim, stating ‘Jesus has forgiven me’; that’s when we receive. Yes, Christ freely forgives, but like any gift held out to the recipient, the recipient must be willing to claim it as their own, believing the gift was truly meant for them.
To claim is to believe, but do we have the right to claim something we don’t deserve? For example, do I have the right to claim if I will marry some day if I don’t know whether or not it is apart of God’s plan? Who am I to claim such things?
“Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.” — Genesis 2:19-20a
(Please forgive me if none of this makes sense. It did in my head when it all clicked together, but explaining it is another matter.)
Imagine a child receives a stuffed toy for Christmas and names it bear. This is Adam in Genesis; the parent who produced the toy is sort of like God when He created the creatures and let Adam (the child) name them. (So you can name your feline pet anything you want — Sockmuffin, Sir Whiskertons III, or even Snazzles because he’s snazzy — but remember it’s ancestor, the first domestic feline, was just named cat.)
God allowed Adam to do this just like a father let’s his ten year old son check the dipstick or pour the oil when the father is changing oil. Adam is given the chance to help and to have bonding time with his Father. Just like God with Adam, the father changing the oil doesn’t need his son’s help to get things done and it certainly doesn’t make things quicker. However, these bonding moments grow the relationship. Growth builds confidence, loyalty, passion, and trust.
There is a flip-side, though. Going back to the child on Christmas: a year passes and as the child awaits it’s arrival they go down a toy aisle while at the store, telling their parent everything they want for Christmas. By the end of the day the child picked out 75 different toys and believes they’ll get them. Christmas arrives, though, and only two gifts are under the tree.
To have received all 75 would have spoiled the child and eventually the child would grow to be self-centered and more materialistic than grateful. To a child who has never received a gift for Christmas and finally receives just that one special toy makes a tremendous impact, leaving such a child truly grateful of the toy they thought they’d never get.
While all of this is well and good, how does it relate to claiming and believing? We know that to claim is to believe. We also know God allows us to claim in prayer so that we are reminded of whose child we are. Now, though, we also know: 1. we can voice what we wish to claim because God wants us to have a part in the process, too, to bond and grow with Him and 2. we must recall not everything we claim is apart of His plan, for if we received everything we claimed we would forget about building a relationship with Him and others. We must be bold enough to believe what we claim will be received, but humble enough to trust in His wisdom when we do not receive.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” — 1 Timothy 6:7-9