Faith, Desire, and Receiving: A Deep Dive into Biblical Asking

by | Oct 5, 2023

In the myriad avenues of biblical interpretation, the concept of ‘desire’ as a potential key to receiving from God has sparked insightful debates among scholars and followers alike. A popular reference point for this idea is Mark 11:24, a verse that imparts a compelling message. As cited in the King James Version (KJV), the verse declares, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” This unequivocally empowering statement nudges us to reflect on the intertwining of ‘desire’ and ‘asking’.


To appreciate the depth of this verse, it is essential to peel back the translation layers. The Greek verb “αἰτέω” (pronounced “aiteó”) punctuates this verse, representing the act of ‘asking’ or ‘requesting.’ It signifies making a specific, earnest request or petition to a higher entity—in this case, God. The English Standard Version (ESV) translation of the same verse reads, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Here, the interpretation underscores that ‘asking’ and ‘desiring’ are often closely linked concepts.

In the Greek lexicon, “αἰτέω” connotes a request from an inferior to a superior—a reflection of humanity’s relationship with God. This act of reaching out to God with faith and confidence articulates an expectation that God, in His infinite wisdom and compassion, will grant what aligns with His plan.

This spiritual tenet resonates in Matthew 7:7-8, where followers are encouraged to ‘ask,’ ‘seek,’ and ‘knock,’ with the assurance of God’s receptive and responsive nature. Yet, the crucial question remains—how does ‘desire’ dovetail into this spiritual engagement?

The Significance of Desire:

While the specific word “desire” does not appear in the original Greek text of Mark 11:24, the concept of desire is closely connected to the act of asking or requesting. Desire, in its raw form, denotes a sense of longing or wanting. It is not inherently positive or negative—it simply exists. What matters is its trajectory. Are our desires inclined toward matters that resonate with God’s character and divine will?

Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  suggests that when we find our joy and satisfaction in the Lord, our desires become aligned with His will, and He graciously grants them. Here, ‘desire’ entwines with ‘delight,’ defined by the Hebrew root word conveying the idea of finding delight, being pliable in the Lord’s presence, and a readiness to shape our wishes according to His will. The essence of this verse is profound: when our ultimate joy and satisfaction are embedded in the Lord, our desires align with His will. Consequently, in His boundless graciousness, He bestows those desires upon us.

Desire as a Passionate Commitment:

In a contrasting perspective, desire can also be understood as a passionate commitment to God and His purposes. In 1 Corinthians 14:1, believers are encouraged to “pursue love, and earnestly desire [zeloute] spiritual gifts“. The Greek word used, “zeloute,” denotes a fervent commitment and dedication to a person or cause. This verse underscores that our desires should be aligned with the pursuit of love and the passionate application of our spiritual gifts to serve others.

Understanding the Biblical Context:

To understand the role of desire in receiving from God, it is essential to consider the broader biblical context. Matthew 6:33 emphasizes the importance of seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness first. When our desires align with God’s priorities, and we live in faith and righteousness, we position ourselves to receive from Him. In essence, ‘desire’ plays an instrumental role in our communion with God, yet it is but one element in a more comprehensive spiritual framework that ensures our requests are not solely motivated by self-centered desires but by a sincere desire to honor God and fulfill His purposes.

The Heart Posture and Faith:

To dissect it further, it becomes evident that the desire is intricately linked to the heart posture and faith of the believer. The mere act of asking is deeply connected with desire. It’s challenging to envision asking for something without first fostering a desire for it. 

Hebrews 11:6 asserts that faith pleases God and rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Genuine belief and trust in God’s ability and willingness to answer our prayers play a vital role in receiving from Him. It is crucial to have a heart posture that aligns with God’s will and trusts in His provision. 

Desire and Alignment with God’s Will:

To receive from God, our actions must align with His instructions for our life. When our desires are rooted in God’s priorities, seeking His kingdom above all else, and living a life actively pursuing to be made in His image, we increase the likelihood of receiving what we ask for. It is important to note that desiring things contrary to God’s character or purposes may not be in line with asking and receiving from Him. The key is to seek His will, to pursue living in His image, and allow our desires to be shaped by His plans and purposes.

Although the specific word “desire” may not appear in the original Greek text of Mark 11:24, desire plays a significant role in the broader understanding of asking and receiving from God. It’s difficult to separate asking for something if you don’t want it. And while ‘desire’ may not be the solitary key to receiving from God, it undeniably represents an indispensable component of our prayer life and spiritual journey. 

The interplay between desire, faith, and alignment with God’s will forms a key aspect of the dynamic relationship between believers and God. So, understanding that when our desires align with God’s will and we approach Him with a pure heart posture and faith, seeking His kingdom, and living in righteousness, we position ourselves to receive and experience His abundant blessings and provision.