TEXT: Mark 11:20-24
20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 152 messages in this series.
This is message #153 titled, Having Faith in God is the Key to Answered Prayer
Some of you who have been with us for the past several weeks in the Praying Though the Bible Series will find the background of this passage familiar. Jesus Christ had gone to Jerusalem at the beginning of the Passover week as the time of his crucifixion drew near. He visited the Temple, threw out those who were buying and selling for the second time in his ministry, and declared, “My house shall be called a house of prayer.” As he was on his way to the Temple, however, he had an encounter with a fig tree that, by the abundance of leaves, appeared to be full of fruit. He was hungry and went to the fig tree expecting to find fruit. When he found none, he cursed the tree, declaring that no fruit would grow thereon forever.
Jesus used the image of the fig tree to illustrate the spiritual condition of the nation of Israel at that time: seemingly flourishing, but actually fruitless. There was a lot of religiosity going on in Israel, but there was little to no real spiritual fruit. This spiritual deadness was evident in the majority of Jews rejecting Jesus as the Messiah — which was shown vividly just a few days later when many cried out for Him to be crucified. The destruction of the fig tree was prophetically symbolic of what would happen to the nation of Israel — with God’s temporary rejection of Israel because of their rejection of Christ, and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans about 40 years later.
As Jesus and his disciples are passing by the fig tree on their way from Jerusalem, Mark tells us that “Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.” The disciples were concerned, both by the sudden demise of the fig tree and by Jesus’ predictions regarding the nation of Israel, but Jesus tells them to just have faith in God — something which the nation of Israel lacked at that time.
J.D. Grassmick said, “Faith that rests in God is unwavering trust in His omnipotent power and unfailing goodness.” The command to have faith in God was extremely important for the disciples at that time because many things were happening that would have made it easy for them to doubt God’s plan and Jesus’ intentions.
Jesus goes on to give an example of what this kind of strong faith looks like. He says, “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.” The “mountain” Jesus is referring to is likely the Mount of Olives which was visible from their location. The “mountain” represents an immovable object — immovable to us, but not to God. The mountain represents the Red Seas and Jericho’s walls of our lives — those times when we realize that nothing within our power or resources can possibly save us. But, still, we can look at those objects as though they do not even exist, not because we can remove them ourselves, but because we know that God can remove them if it is His will.
There are two conditions that are in place when this kind of faith is evident: (1) the absence of doubt, and (2) unwavering trust in God. Something that we see throughout the Bible is that God often waits for evidence of faith before He acts. For example, when the children of Israel were trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea, before God split the Red Sea, the people were told to “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” In other words, the people were to be waiting on God and expecting God to save them. When the children of Israel were afflicted by a deadly plague, God told them to look at a bronze serpent before they could be healed. Now, God could have healed them without having them to look at the serpent, but God wanted them to demonstrate their faith in Him first. When Jesus worked miracles of healing or casting out demons, He often acknowledged and praised the faith of the person who came to Him asking for healing or deliverance.
Yes, God wants to answer our prayers, but he often will wait for us to demonstrate true faith in him. Dr. Tony Evans says that having faith is simply “acting like God is telling the truth.” If you believe that God will do what he has promised or that God can do what you are requesting of him, then you should act like it. By getting on a plane, you are demonstrating faith in the pilot and the airline to get you to your destination safely.
Jesus reiterates this point by saying, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” It sounds simple, almost too good to be true. However, take note of this warning from Warren Wiersbe: “[We should not interpret] Mark 11:24 to mean, ‘If you pray hard enough and really believe, God is obligated to answer your prayers, no matter what you ask.’ That kind of faith is not faith in God; rather, it is nothing but faith in faith, or faith in feelings. True faith in God is based on His Word, and His Word reveals His will to us. It has well been said that the purpose of prayer is not to get man’s will done in heaven, but to get God’s will done on earth.”
The effectiveness of our prayers does not come from the strength of our faith, but from the one in whom we have put our faith. The key to faith is having confidence that God is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do. We should not say, ‘I have faith that I can be healed,’ but rather, ‘I have faith that God can heal me.’ When you go to an ATM machine, it may seem like the money that you request comes out of that machine. However, what you usually do not see is that someone has to put the money in the machine before you can get anything out. If you have faith in the machine, your faith is misplaced.
We must place our faith in the right place. God is the one who works miracles, who heals, who provides, who protects, who delivers. He often uses agents — doctors, medicine, friends, acquaintances, or total strangers — to carry out these acts in response to our prayers. But He is the one behind it all. Our faith must be in him. When we pray for the things that we desire — as long as they are in God’s will — we must believe and act as though God is able to grant those requests if we are to receive them.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.