We can take this week’s text and really get into trouble…just as we could if we took many of the Bible’s teachings and tried to apply them out of context. God has given us a comprehensive Word in the Scriptures so that we can have confidence in Him that will guide us to live confidently as His followers. Notice the amazing promise He gives us below:
As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:20-25 ESV)
Jesus teaches us that when we have faith in Him we can ask for Big things and see Supernatural results. That is a powerful and amazing truth that should fill us with greater faith and a more confident hope. However, a great way to lose that faith and hope would be to ask Big and not see results - right? Let’s be honest, that happens. We see something that we feel we need or is needed and we ask God and we hear crickets or we hear no. What this text doesn’t say is said elsewhere in scripture and would have been clear to those that heard Jesus that day.
We can’t just ask for anything as if it belongs to us just because we want it. James 4:3 teaches us that ‘You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions’. What is this saying to us? Here it is - We can have all the confidence and faith and hope in Christ answering our prayers when we have prayed for something that is in accordance to the perfect will of God. When we ask wrongly, it isn’t that God doesn’t answer, but it is that God answers us with a re-direction so that we can align our hearts with His. When we ask for something out of self-centeredness or selfish motives then we can know that God isn’t going to answer in the affirmative.
God answers prayers that bring glory to Him. God answers prayers that cause His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven. God answers prayers as a Good Father! Place your hope in that rather than in the result of a prayer asked wrongly.