Q: Matthew 21:22 says “Whatever you ask for in prayer, as you believe, your will receive.”
I believe this was meant for the disciples and not general public, right? I think I’ve heard this passage taken out of context.
A: You are correct that this passage is spoken only to the disciples (see v. 20).
Even then, this passage can be abused to say something it doesn’t.
As always, context is key. Verse 22 is the “climax” of the mini-parable about faith and moving a mountain.
The key to remember here is that faith always has a promise of God as its object. You can only believe in what God has promised. So Jesus’ words might be paraphrased:
“If God had promised [which he hasn’t] that you can wither a fig tree or move a mountain into the sea and you believe and that promise and do not doubt, it will be done.”
Similarly, when we pray for what God has specifically promised us, we can be certain we will receive it. The key is the promise of God – when believers trust the promises of God, amazing things happen!