Thursday, November 12, 2009

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

How do you understand Jesus’ perplexing saying in Mark 11:24?

“I tell you therefore whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”


Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

Good question!
All I ever hear is: "But this does not mean, that one should pray that he receives a Ferrari"...

Greg said...

Thanks. Considering the number of comments so far, I think the question may be one of those that we tend to ignore, though to our detriment and credibility.

I guess my first question when seeking to understand a verse like this is: what is the context?

And as to the Ferrari, why not? Are there any limits in the verse? If not, perhaps there are some in the wider context?

Micha said...

Jesus often spoke in extremes. I tend to evaluate his extremes as exaggerations to make a point. His exaggerations are restricted by our own experience with prayer and by virtue (God wont give us literally whatever we want - this option is neither possible nor is it desired by someone who devoted his life to virtue). The wider context of Jesus teachings are his kingdom and prayer should always be concentrated on this cosmic view - that it might change us and taht we might be a little part in the process of his kingdom becoming more and more reality.

Greg said...

Thanks. Good comment.

Joshua said...

I think he cursed the fig tree, overturned the tables of corrupt religious practices and their perversions of religious propitiation. They then see the fig tree withered up, and he says to his disciples to ask God for what they want.

Rhett & Valerie said...

Regarding the Ferrari, I think a lot of American Christian *do* "name it and claim it" and simultaneously rack up plenty of credit card debt, in the belief that "God wants me to have this".

In regards to the passage, in the same book we have Mark 14:36: "And he said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'"


Greg said...

Thanks. Well, what do you think the disciples thought of your suggestion?
Asking God for what they want seems pretty open ended. Can this really be what Jesus is promising?

For me, and I give a clue here to a possible direction of a different understanding, "in prayer" is a key and emphasis over "whatever you ask."

Greg said...

Thanks. True, but this verse seems a blank check or a limitless credit card, which never has to be paid back, doesn't it?

Joshua said...

I have no idea. Peter is astonished at the power of the Messiah. I think Jesus then speaks with hyperbole, but who know what Peter would think after have just seen it. I'm not a disciple of Jesus, so obviously my mind would race not open endedly but towards all the sort of impossible things I could do with that check, and I'm not referring to Ferrari's popping up out of thin air.

The disciples seemed to have in the recorded text duplicated many of the miraculous powers of Jesus. They did not seem to get open endedly though every thing they prayed for, which in my mind does not mean that they didn't believe they had received it enough or something.

So, he did make say that to his disciples, who I don't believe would have understood at that point the meaning of his words, or been able to live it. His disciples though seem to have performed the miraculous nature of it, maybe not not throwing mountains in seas but amongst other things resurrecting, healing, etc.

Joshua said...

I'm looking and still not seeing what you're seeing about the "in prayer" phrase. Care to elaborate?

Greg said...

Ok. Good.

My thought of what the disciples might have thought is connected to the context, which is the temple. The temple was supposed to be a house of prayer, but had been turned into a den of robbers.

"In prayer" relates to the temple prayer offered morning, afternoon, and evening. These Jewish prayers majored on serving God with a contrite heart, forgiveness for sin, and the efficacy of sacrifice for it. It is in this limited context that Jesus can say whatever the disciples ask, if they believe, they will receive it and it will be theirs. What is asked for, believed, and received is related to God and his character and intentions, which would have been clearly known in these prayers.

There is no blank check.

Greg said...

I just think that we put all the emphasis on "whatever you ask" when the focus should be on "in prayer" because God is the referent of the prayer, which already puts restrictions on its subject matter. Therefore, in addition to my last comment, it seems that the "whatever" is not the "whatever" whatever we tend to make it out to be, but more likely a limited known for the disciples - limits being set by "in prayer" to God and by the temple.