During his ministry on earth, Jesus often spoke directly to those with him with words of instruction intended specifically for those individuals. Less frequently he spoke to all who would listen to him, using words of universal importance. Over these few weeks we reflect on some of the instructions from the Gospel of Mark that Jesus intended we, and all who follow him, should receive and obey.
Gospel of Mark 11: 20-25 (NIV)
20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig-tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig-tree you cursed has withered!”
22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
This reflection addresses the statement with universal application in verse 24. The reflection that follows this one addresses the statement with universal application in verse 25.
Jesus has already commanded his disciples to “have faith in God” (verse 22). Here “faith” is not merely intellectual assent but is being totally convinced that God is in control, that God’s will is to be accomplished and that God’s purposes can best be worked out through his people when they willingly and totally surrender their wills to his will. Accepting this, I find I am still challenged by Jesus’ words in verse 24: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” I can only believe that, when I am entirely surrendered to the will of the Father, my prayers to him will be his prayers addressed back to him through me. These prayers will hold no element of selfishness. They will not seek my advantage. They will desire to achieve the purposes of God and only those purposes. Fully convinced that God is in control, these prayers will be coincident with what is in God’s perfect plan to be enacted.
I confess I am not there yet. In God’s good timing, he will assist me to surrender what remains un-surrendered until all of me is his.