Volume 38

E. Michal Gayer
Volume 38

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…we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

“Mental Assent a Hindrance to Prayer

Devotional TeachingsIn our last teaching we stated that no matter how challenging our circumstance may seem, it does not alter God’s prayer instructions: (1) We are to pray according to His will, (2) not doubt that He will keep His Word to us (3) and believe we receive what He has spoken forth in His Word right then and there, even if we do not immediately experience it. A lot of people can understand this and even attempt to apply this in their prayer life; however, many people are deceived into thinking they are operating in faith when in all actuality they are only experiencing mental assent.

Mental assent means having intellectual knowledge and agreement with the Word of God without applying the Word into one’s life in such a way that it produces depth of faith. Mental assent, or mere intellectual understanding of the Word of God, hinders prayer because the individual in mental assent can be deceived into thinking they are operating in faith when in fact they are not.

Understand this, everything we believe about God is based on some kind of knowledge about Him. There are two main ways we receive knowledge. One way, and the main way for most people, is through our five physical senses: the senses of taste, touch, smell, hearing and seeing. All of the accumulated knowledge that relates to the scientific, educational and mechanical world has come through that sensory route. In fact, our ability to sense, perceive and relate to our world mostly comes through sense perception. Out of this comes a form of “sense knowledge faith” that derives from trusting in the things we can know by “sense knowledge”, those things we can know by taste, touch, smell, hearing and seeing. “I’ll believe it when I see it” exemplifies this type of sense knowledge faith. This kind of knowledge and trusting is useful and necessary in relating to certain aspects of life, but in the realm of the spirit sense perception has less usefulness.

The second kind of knowledge we are capable of receiving does not come through our five senses but comes as revelation from God. This knowledge is revealed knowledge or “revelation knowledge”. It is knowledge based on the revelation God has given in His Word and is received and believed directly in a person’s spirit bypassing, for the greater part, the five senses. Only a person whose mind has been alerted by the New Birth can experience revelation knowledge and know God through His direct revelation.

1 Corinthians 2:10-14 states, “‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Revelation knowledge leads to the development of faith based upon the revelation of God. It brings with it spiritual discernment and strength of faith that know, trusts and relies on the things of God as directly supported by the Word of God.

When praying for healing, “sense knowledge” thinking says, “I was prayed for but I do not immediately feel healed so I guess that prayer didn’t work.” “Revelation knowledge” thinking, on the other hand, is “I was prayed for and I do not immediately feel healed but that will not effect what I believe because I am trusting God’s Word, praying according to His will and believing I receive. I will stand on God’s Word until my healing is manifested.” Faith built on “revelation knowledge” and adheres to the stance, “…we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

A keen look at mental assent more clearly reveals the danger that is present concerning prayer.  As was already briefly mentioned, mental assent means merely having intellectual knowledge and agreement with the Word of God without applying the Word into one’s life to develop depth of faith. The person in mental assent agrees that the whole Bible is true but they do not act upon it and apply it to their life. These people accept Bible facts and understand them in their mind but they do not allow the Word of God to govern their lives. Mental assent, or belief without application or action, is not the kind of faith that gets results.

James 2:17-20 gives a startling observation concerning this. It reads, “…Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” Mental assent agrees with the truth of God’s Word as being “true” but does not integrate it into a work that demonstrates active faith.

A person can be very knowledgeable of the healing Word, can quote scriptures in abundance and still be in mental assent, agreeing that the Word is true but not incorporating it into the core of their existence. Such a person can quote scripture and claim great belief one minute and then speak fear, doubt and worry the next. True faith acts on the Word of God that has been incorporated into the very center of a person’s being.

Prayer born out of mental assent and not absolute life-changing faith cannot stand the test of time that is sometimes necessary before a healing manifestation emerges. Prayer offered, received and based on faith derived from the application of God’s Word into one’s life enables the person to endure until the answer is fully manifest. Prayer is an awesome privilege of the child of God but we must learn how to pray in accordance with all of the know principles of God, especially faith.