Mark 11: 20 In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. 24 So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”
This is a fascinating and difficult passage. Jesus commands a fig tree to wither, which it does. Jesus then points out to Peter this is no big deal. One with great faith can do much more than wither a fig tree, “if you say to this mountain…”. The key is “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours”. This highlights the difficult part.
Jesus suggests the faith of the one praying determines whether a prayer is answered or not.
A family in the congregation I serve lost their young adult son recently. They are devastated, as you can imagine. I know that many people, myself included, prayed for their son’s healing and recovery. Yet it did not happen. If this passage is taken literally it means all the people praying the young man were deficient in their faith or he would have been healed. I can’t believe that’s what this passage means.
Lord Jesus the truth is that most of us Christians believe, yet also doubt at some level. We don’t have perfect faith. If perfect faith is what’s required, then we’re all in trouble. Lord we believe, help our unbelief. Amen.