Ask and ye shall receive?


Hello all,

I’ve been searching for an answer to this on the forums for a few hours(!) now, but the system does not seem to be treating me well. My question is with respect to the various gospel verses containing promises on prayer (Matthew 21:22, Mark 11:24, John 16:23 etc). A cursory glance reveals what appears to be very straightforward English giving a very straightforward message- if you pray for something believing it will happen, you will get it. Now, I would like to say that I believe that this is the case only if you meet certain requirements (sincere prayer, not selfish, not going against God), but the language simply doesn’t seem to indicate that this is the case. Anybody’s opinions/explanations would be welcomed and appreciated.

P.S. Go easy on me if I’ve done anything wrong, it’s my first post here!


Well that is just a couple of lines of Scripture. Jesus says we much pray in His name. That means pray according to who He is.


Scripture reassures us that God wants all good things for us and that by praying, we may in fact receive according to our needs. Sometimes when the answer comes it may not be in the form we expect. Perhaps we will be given strength to work through a problem rather than a direct solution. Other times, we may receive what we wish, but not at the time we might want. We might also ask for something that is not in accord with God’s will and not receive it.

Prayer is not “guaranteed”. It isn’t a magical spell.

My personal belief is that God hears our prayers and He answers them all, but in His own way and in His own time. Sometimes the answer is “no”. Sometimes, perhaps even many years later, we may discover that the “no” we received was one of the greater of the things we’ve received!


Maybe a clue would be the words of Jesus saying “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you besides”. Maybe we should be asking and working toward the kingdom and God’s righteousness. We mostly can get caught up in the ‘other things’ and not so much seeking the kingdom of God.


Sometimes prayers are answered in ways we wouldn’t expect.

“God’s Will Be Done” is something we must accept.





Welcome to the forums and never fear…You have done nothing wrong…
Too early for me to put together a cohesive and comprehensive answer (just had one cup of coffee…:sleep::coffeeread:…so I’ll respond with some fairly raw thoughts…

  1. You are quite right in saying that certain criteria must be met. In Matthew and Mark we are told that we must have faith and never doubt. In John we are told we must ask in Jesus name. Thus, it appears that the language DOES indeed indicate that certain requirements must be met.

  2. Additionally - when Jesus was asked “how shall we pray”, he responded with what we now call the “Our Father” or the “The Lord’s prayer”. Studying and understanding this model will give much insight into what is proper in prayer.

  3. Where we are told that we are to pray “in Jesus name”…this meant something quite different and profound in those days than it does now. To invoke the name of another was to place that person’s honor and reputation behind something. In the case of a master or teacher, it meant that you were their servant, acting (asking) for them and with them and their will. It was not something done lightly. To act in a way that brought shame to one’s master could be severely punished.

  4. Building on number three above, if we are to invoke Jesus name, with faith and without doubt as is recorded in the passages you cite, we must also strive to BE his servants…to BE with Him and for Him. Then, we can ask in confidence…

  5. It is essential that we always subordinate our wills and desires to the will and desire of God for us. “Thy Will be done” is a critical aspect of prayer because:
    a) We are imperfect in our faith and also (many times) we have doubts.
    b) We wish to subordinate our “self” and our will to God - to be granted only that which is good.
    In this sense, The Fig tree in Mt and Mk is actually a warning that we should be careful in what we ask for.

Hope some of this helps…



“Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you.” [John 16: 23] Jesus Christ then has promised, that whatever we ask His Father in His name, His Father will give us. But always with the understanding that we ask under the proper conditions.

Many seek, says St. James, and obtain not because they seek improperly: “Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss.” [James 4: 3] So St. Basil, following out the argument of the Apostle, says, “You sometimes ask and receive not, because you have asked badly; either without faith, or you have requested things not fit for you, or you have not persevered;” “faithlessly,” that is, with little faith, or little confidence; “lightly,” with little desire of the grace you ask; “things not fit for you, when you seek good things that will not be conducive to your salvation; or you have left off praying, without perseverance.” (St. Alphonsus)

That quote is taken from the following link: (‘Prayer: The Great Means of Salvation’, Ch 3 - The Conditions of Prayer… well worth reading!)


God answers prayers; it’s just that sometimes the answer is “no”, “not yet”, or “I have something better planned for you”. If I think back on all the things I have prayed for in the past where I thought God didn’t answer my prayer; but his answer was actually one of the answers I posted above, it makes me realize that I do not always know what’s best for me, but He does.




It is implied that we must pray/ask with the proper dispositions. God bless you.


I’m lazy and don’t want to look it up, but there is a passage in James that says (my paraphrase): “You ask, and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may consume your desires.”

Okay, I looked it up: James 4.3: When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

The idea that we can approach God directly through prayer without fear of retribution was unusual in some parts of the ancient world–the gods were not always friendly. Jesus could be (speculation here) reassuring his followers that they would “receive” an answer (yes/no/not yet) rather than a lightning bolt to the head just for asking.


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