The Fine Print

Jesus makes some epic promises. I like these. I spend time leaning into these, memorizing them, praying them on occasion. I like this one for instance:

Mark 11:24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.

That sounds like a lock, right? 
“Pray for anything. Believe that you’ve received it. Open mail. Cash check.”
And when I hear of people who pray for the impossible, it inspires me. I want to pray bolder, more aggressive prayers. I want to dream God-sized dreams for my life and the lives of others.

There’s a significant wrinkle here though. This promise doesn’t stand on it’s own. Jesus qualifies it with some fine print. Kind of like when people win $10 million in the lottery, only to find out it’s really $7.5 million after taxes. Except in this case God doesn’t offer partial answers to prayers, He just has an expectation of the heart behind said prayers.

Read the following fine print (in the very next verse) carefully:
Mark 11:25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

Grudges undermine belief. Period.
Pettiness poisons prayers. Full stop.
Resentment is clog in the fuel line that hinders the pure expression of faith.
If our prayers are rockets, unchecked anger is the malfunction that causes them to explode on takeoff.

Too often, I’m guilty of compartmentalizing my vertical relationship to God from my horizontal relationships with the people in my life. Jesus doesn’t give me this option.

He says, “God wants to respond to your prayers, but if you are holding a grudge, your faith will never get off the ground.” If we can’t believe God to give us grace to let those who have wounded us go, then maybe we don’t have business trusting God for much else. Because when we’re angry, our prayers are too small. They’re usually limited requests that serve our comfort, our convenience and our quest for sweet vindication. But when mercy rules the day, when we extend the forgiveness God gives us to others, then our prayers finally pierce the ceiling they’ve been slamming up against.

If you’re first prayer is: “God, give me the power to release others who have done me wrong,” then maybe there’s no telling what other prayers God is prepared to answer.

Craig Custance