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  • Writer's pictureRick Zumpano

Belief and Doubt

Mark 11:12-14, 20-24

It would be my opinion that every Christian living today has prayed to God for something and never received it. Yes? Has that happened to you? It has to me. With all of the “ask and you shall receive” teachings in scripture, what do you suppose is the reason for this? Why do you suppose more of our prayers are not granted by our heavenly Father? At times it seems that the door to the throne room is either closed, or the divine ear is listening to something else (perhaps the cries of the hungry or those in prison for their faith).

Too often, I think, we “write off” our unanswered prayers as not being the will of God (1 John 5:14), and certainly that could be the case. However, our reading suggests to me one very strong reason why prayer is not answered by the Almighty.

The fig tree incident is an “enacted” parable, an opportunity Jesus used to teach a lesson to the disciples. The leaves signaled the possibility of fruit, but there was not even an early fig. In context, the tree is Israel who had become fruitless although exhibiting many outward signs of being a fruitful vine. The leaders of Israel had failed. The tree is cursed. When Peter remarks about the withered tree the next day, Jesus’ succinct response is : “Have faith in God.” Israel had ceased having faith in God and had gone off after “other gods,” in particular Rome, to maintain their existence as a political entity. They trusted in themselves and as a result, they were fruitless.

Jesus impresses upon His disciples that faith in God is paramount to accomplishing anything in the kingdom and asking God to bring it about is a must. But asking isn’t enough; one must ask and not doubt and believe that you’ve already received your request!

Too many of us search for the “right words” to say in our prayers or simply repeat the same phrases. Prayer isn’t about right words but about faith in God, about believing that He will deliver! Doubt must be crushed with unwavering belief in God. Not just words, but faith. Pray believing. “Have faith in God.”

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