Key Verse: “When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them.” (Mark 11:25 NIV)
12-14As they left Bethany the next day, he was hungry. Off in the distance he saw a fig tree in full leaf. He came up to it expecting to find something for breakfast, but found nothing but fig leaves. (It wasn’t yet the season for figs.) He addressed the tree: “No one is going to eat fruit from you again—ever!” And his disciples overheard him.
Reflection: (Mark 11:13-14)
Fig trees, a popular source of inexpensive food in Israel, require three years from the time they are planted until they can bear fruit.
Each tree yields a great amount of fruit twice a year, in late spring and in early autumn.
The figs normally grow as the leaves fill out, but this tree, though full of leaves, had no figs.
The tree looked promising but offered no fruit.
Jesus’ harsh words to the fig tree could be applied to the nation of Israel.
Fruitful in appearance only, Israel was spiritually barren.
20-21 In the morning, walking along the road, they saw the fig tree, shriveled to a dry stick. Peter, remembering what had happened the previous day, said to him, “Rabbi, look—the fig tree you cursed is shriveled up!”
22-25 Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”
Reflection: (Mark 11:22-23)
The kind of prayer that moves mountains is prayer for the fruitfulness of God’s Kingdom.
It would seem impossible to move a mountain into the sea, so Jesus used that illustration to show that God can do the impossible.
God will answer your prayers but not as a result of your positive mental attitude.
Other conditions must be met:
- You must be a believer.
- You must not hold a grudge against another person.
- You must not pray with selfish motives.
- Your request must be for the good of God’s Kingdom.
To pray effectively, you need faith in God, not faith in the object of your request.
If you focus only on your request, you will be left with nothing if your request is refused.
Reflection: (Mark 11:12-14,20-25)
In the Gospel of Mark, two independent incidents are related:
- The cursing of the fig tree.
- The clearing of the Temple.
The cursing of the fig tree was an acted-out parable tied to the clearing of the Temple.
Just as the fig tree looked good from a distance but was fruitless on close examination, so the Temple looked impressive at first glance, but its sacrifices and other activities were hollow because they were not done to worship God sincerely (See Matthew 21:43).
The fig tree showed promise of fruit, but it produced none.
Jesus was showing His anger at religious life without substance.
If you claim to have faith without putting it to work in your life, you are like the barren fig tree.
Genuine faith has great potential: ask God to help you bear fruit for His kingdom.
Reflection: (Mark 11:24)
Jesus, our example, prayed, “Everything is possible for you… Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Mark 14:36).
Our prayers are often motivated by our own interests and desires.
We like to hear that we can have anything.
But Jesus prayed with God’s interests in mind.
When we pray, we can express our desires, but we should want His will above ours.
Check yourself to see if your prayers focus on your interests or Gods.
Reflection: (Mark 11:25)
Forgiving others is tough work – so much so that many people would rather do something totally distasteful than offer forgiveness to someone who has wronged them.
For a person to pray while bearing a grudge, however, is like a tree sprouting leaves and bearing no fruit (Mark 11:13).
True faith changes the heart.
Real prayer dismantles pride and vengeance, filling the holes with love.
Real faith seeks peace.
For our churches to have prayer power, there must be harmony and forgiveness evident in the body of believers.
Let go of hurts, abandon grudges, and forgive others.