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Expect to Receive (Luke 1)

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.

-Luke 1:45 (NASB)

The Lord Jesus is very interested in the heart’s response to His promises. As we get to know Him in the Word of God by reading the Bible, and in the Spirit by spending time in prayer, He will show us His promises. Some are written down for all believers in scripture, while others He reveals personally for specific individuals. When the Holy Spirit reveals to us the meaning of the written Word or shares with us a personal word, the Lord is looking at the content of our hearts. There are varying degrees of faith He expects. A biblical promise for all believers, for instance, ought to be embraced with all our hearts and with a spirit that says, “I know His Word is faithful, no matter what anyone or anything else says!” We know the inspired Word of God carries unshakable authority, and though we have to understand it rightly with help from the Spirit and from other Christians, we believe the testimony of Jesus that, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35 NKJV). Only God can lead us into this assurance.

When it comes to prophetic words we may receive in prayer or from other believers, regarding the purpose and plans God has for our lives, Jesus desires faith, but it looks different. This type of faith does not blindly embrace every impression with “thus saith the Lord” certainty, but follows Paul’s advice to us: “Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21). If God puts an inkling of His plan and purpose into your heart, or sends it through a brother or sister, the response of faith says, “Lord, if it is from You, You are more than able to bring it to pass!” We should test all things, but when the test of scripture and the test of prayer only affirms it, I believe God delights in quiet trust and expectation that says, “If the thing is from You, You will cause it to prosper, because You are able.”

There may be other times where, by learning His voice, we simply know that we know it is God. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was visited by an angel and told things beyond human imagining, yet the presence of God was so real that she instantly had that type of faith God delights in, saying, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

There is one circumstance, however, in which our heart-response of faith should always be instant. When we have been praying for something specific, and God reveals to us that He is going to answer our prayer, it is disobedience to doubt Him. Zechariah, the father of John the baptist, had been praying, most likely for years, that his wife might conceive. The angel comes to him in the temple saying, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son…” (1:13). In fact, it may be precisely because Zechariah had been praying for a son that his questions and doubts were displeasing to God, while Mary’s were happily answered. 

The devil loves to either suppress this truth or otherwise twist and distort it, but how many time did Jesus command us to pray with faith that we would receive the very thing we ask for? Ask God for what is needed. Ask God for the desire of your heart, and as long as you are habitually surrendering your heart to the Lord Jesus, you can have confidence to believe God for the answer. This is bold but it is not presumptuous, because Jesus Himself commands us to pray like this. Father, teach us to be obedient to the kind of praying you desire to receive from us. Increase our faith in Your desire to answer us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

-Pastor Alex

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