God has a special gift for every disciple of Jesus Christ. To each who takes up his or her cross daily to follow His Son the Father grants enormous spiritual authority in prayer. And theres a reason for this: answered prayer is the key to producing fruit for His kingdom. We are helpless to produce anything for Him on our own, but with believing prayer all things are possible.
In todays lesson well focus on Jesus command to have faith in God, and as we do well listen carefully to His instructions on how to pray with faith because we too want to pray with the kind of power Hes promised here. Then well also look at some of the things He doesnt say in these few verses but assumes we understand so we wont fall into some of the confusion that surrounds these verses. But once that confusion is put aside the bigness of the promise still remains. At least until Jesus comes back again, when those with the right heart, pray the right prayer, based on the right faith, nothing is impossible with God.
Background of this Promise
- Mark 11:1-21
- He cursed the tree on the day after Palm Sunday, the day prophesied (Da 9:24-26) that the Messiah would come to Jerusalem (Zec 9:9; Ps 118:22-26)
- The fig tree is the agricultural symbol of Israel
- Using whats called prophetic symbolism, the Messiah finds the tree of Israel fruitless and rejects it; as prophesied it was destroyed (AD 70) (Lk 13:6)
- The next time Jesus comes that mountain (Mt. of Olives) will be removed and cast into the sea (Eze 47)
- The warning
be on the alert for you do not know the day your Lord is coming (Mt 24:42)
The Intent of this Promise:
Did Jesus literally mean what He said or have we misunderstood Him? Lets listen to other similar promises to find out:
- Mt 18:19; Jn 14:12, 13, 14; 15:7, 16; Mt 7:7, 8, 11; 17:19, 20; 18:18; Jn 20:23
If people have been led astray into believing they can pray for great things it is Jesus fault because He said this sort of thing repeatedly. Apparently this is what He believed.
Problems Associated with this Promise:
- Weve prayed prayers that appeared to go unanswered.
- Weve seen people with wrong motives try to use these promises.
- Weve known people who condemn others for not having enough faith.
- Weve heard strange explanations of how faith works.
My reaction years ago:
- Wrong motivations: greed, fear (sickness, poverty
), thirst for power
- Wrong theology: magic (visualization, power of words, God uses faith)
Keys to Understanding this Promise
1. The right heart: cross
Notice to whom Jesus gave the promise:
- It was not to the multitudes
- It was to disciples who had already heard Him say, If anyone wishes to come after Me he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me (Mk 8:34).
- Remember last weeks sermon?
- The promise is made to people who are sold out and living to serve Jesus.
2. The right prayer: Gods will
No disciple is given authority beyond that which Jesus Himself exercised
- Also: 1 John 5:14
if we ask anything according to His will He hears us
- Can we know the will of God? Or must we always be tentative in what we ask for?
a) Clear promises of Scripture
b) Leading of the Holy Spirit
c) If two of you agree
- This is why its important to learn how to let the Holy Spirit guide us as we pray (Ro 8:26, 27).
3. The right faith: faith in God
We must recognize the true nature of faith.
a) What its not: PMA
- The human mind can produce psychic energy (bend spoons)
- Self-confidence is energizing (Olympic athletes
believing in myself)
b) What it is
- Definition: Faith is choosing to believe in God and trust Him to do what He promises us.
- Ro 10:17 So faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.
- Here is the secret: When we know we have heard from God faith is ignited automatically. I must then nurture that flame (remember it, act on it
). I choose not to neglect it or let my mind return to obstacles and fears.
- The faith Jesus wants us to have is not based on our mental capacity to convince ourselves a miracle has taken place, but to believe that because we are joined to Him God has already given us all His blessings in the new covenant (Ro 8:15-17, 32; Eph 1:18, 19; 2:6; 1Co 3:21-23; 2Co 6:10). We share in the rewards of Christs faithfulness. We are His bride, covered with His righteousness.
Jesus meant exactly what He said but if we are to walk in this power we must:
- Pray with the right heart: embracing the cross.
- Pray the right prayer: according to the will of God.
- Pray standing in the right faith: certain of Gods faithfulness to keep His promises.
Who is facing a challenge in which you need God to do a miracle?
- Are you Jesus disciple?
- Do you want Gods will to be done in that situation?
- Do you believe that by giving us the Holy Spirit God has already giving us all the power we will ever need?
Then, lets pray in faith.
1) Describe the greatest miracle youve ever seen with your own eyes.
2) Name something for which youve been praying. Do the criteria of right heart, right prayer and right faith describe the way you have been praying? If not what needs to change?
3) What steps do you take when you need more faith? Do you enlist other Christians to pray with you now?