“Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:21,22 NIV)
Most of us know the story of Jesus and the fig tree that had leaves, but no fruit. When Jesus saw the leaves, He expected to find figs, but there were none and since He was hungry, and now frustrated, He spoke to the tree and said it would wither and die. When the disciples came back past the tree, they were amazed that the tree was withered.
The tree with leaves had the appearance of bearing fruit, but was barren. When we look at ourselves in our walk, following the precepts of Jesus, how do we look? Do we have the appearance of bearing fruit, yet no fruit exists? Are we just superficial Christians–mimicking phrases, following traditions that have no meaning, giving lip service, but no real praise, mumbling words resembling prayer, but have no power, carrying our bibles that we won’t read, and wearing crosses that bear no witness of our understanding of the work on the cross?
Do we know how to generate love in any environment we find ourselves simply because we know how to love? Is there real joy in our lives that overflows onto all we meet? Do we have peace in our hearts, homes and community? Do we know how to teach with gentleness, remembering that we too are imperfect people? Do we know how to show kindness and compassion to those in need? Are we faithful–totally committed to do that we do, to do it well? Have we disciplined ourselves so others can see we live a disciplined life–free of anxiety, anger, and intolerance? Are we fruit-bearing Christians or do we just have the appearance of being one?
Now, what Jesus referenced to His disciples was more about their faith and what they would be able to do if they believed what they heard. They heard Him what He said to the tree, but apparently did not believe it would happen since they were amazed at what happened. He knew there was doubt lingering in them which is why they were amazed and told them that if they “didn’t doubt” they could say, to the mountain, “go move into the sea and it would.” Why must they say it? So they could hear what they said and since Jesus told them to do it, it would be so. “Faith coming by hearing and hearing by The Word of God.”
We must believe The Word (Jesus is The Word) and when we pray, we can have whatever we ask for when we don’t doubt The Word. In another passage, Jesus reminds us that whatever we ask of the Father, in His name, He would do it–as long as we don’t doubt it will be done.
The reason many do not see answered prayers is because of doubt and unbelief or because of asking for things that do not align with The Word. When we know The Word, we do not pray amiss (out of alignment with The Word) and we know that God is not hard of hearing or forgetful. Those are our weaknesses, not His.
So when we pray–we only need to ask for what we want–once–and then we give thanks for it until we receive it. Giving thanks to God what we have faith to receive--removes doubt. For if we know, we already have what we ask for, why would we need to keep asking for it?
In order to see faith operate on a daily basis, we must “hear” The Word and keep hearing The Word, building our faith in Him so He will move on our behalf since He is moved by faith, not by feelings.