Please allow me to share a great secret that simplifies life and keeps things in the right perspective. Very simply put, this great secret is: Things do not always go as planned! We have been programmed to believe that if we plan, stick to our plans and focus our mental energy on our plans; they will always come to pass. Napoleon Hill was the man who originally formulated and promoted the idea that one can Think and Grow Rich ; in fact that is the title of his most famous book. In that book, Mr. Hill had this to say about the power of the mind and belief: Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
Millions upon millions of people have bought into the idea that all it takes to be successful and prosperous in this life is envisioning what you want and believing it. Oh how I wish it were that simple. But, if we are going to allow the Word of God to be our ultimate authority; such wishful thinking is not in alignment with God's Word. Christians have modified this idea and justified it by quoting Mark 11:22-24:
22And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
23For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
24Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
Of course the questions that comes up are; was Jesus really saying that we are to literally move mountains just because we believe we can? Was Jesus really advocating that anything we could conceive in our mind, if we believe, it will come to pass? If these statements are true, why do Christians continually face financial peril, physical problems and mental breakdowns? If Jesus was indeed advocating the idea of just thinking about something and watching it come to pass, why did Jesus not heal EVERY sick person, raise EVERY dead person or spend his life as a vagabond with barely enough money to survive?
The context of these verses in Mark is very important to understanding what Jesus was communicating. Back in Mark 11:12-14 we can read that Jesus was hungry and found a fig tree expecting there to be figs. When it had none, Jesus spoke to the tree and said; No man eat fruit of thee hereafter forever . Jesus and his disciples then entered Jerusalem and went to the temple where we read in Mark 11:15:
And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;
To say that Jesus was a bit angry would be quite an understatement. After teaching that the temple was to be a house of prayer and not a den of thieves, the offenders scattered and the people were astonished at his doctrine. Jesus and his men then left Jerusalem and the next morning they passed by the fig tree Jesus had spoken to the day before and it was dried up from the roots. Peter noticed this and brought it to the attention of Jesus. That is when Jesus spoke the famous words we saw in verses 22 through 24. Amazingly, the immediate context of these words was in reference to cursing a fig tree!
Jesus was not making a blanket statement implying that we have the ability and authority to walk around casting mountains into the sea. Jesus was simply instructing his disciples on the mechanics of prayer, of which FAITH is one of biggest ones. God told Jesus the fig tree was worthless, Jesus had faith to pray for its demise and it came to pass. Whenever God tells us to pray for something or someone, we must pray with the faith of God or it is a waste of time. If a prayer is worth praying, it is worth the effort needed to pray it with the very faith of God.
One more thing; immediately after Jesus explained prayer with faith, we find the true context of his statements as found in verses 25 and 26:
25And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
26But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Incredibly, the context of Mark 11:22-24 is FORGIVING those who we have issues with. Those who have hurt us or made our lives miserable need to be prayed for and FORGIVEN. To do this takes the faith of God and praying in the way Jesus described in Mark 11:23. We would all do well to get off of our high horse and climb down from our holier than thou pedestal and realize that harboring ill will toward those who have harmed us only harms us more. We will never accept God's forgiveness in our lives if we refuse to forgive those who have sinned against us .
There is GREAT power in prayer and it takes immense faith to pray for the sick, raise the dead or believe God has provided a way out of any situation. But, the prayer that takes the most faith and demands that we have no doubt or hesitation is the prayer we offer for those who are our enemies. We must always remember that it was not until Job prayed for his friends (in reality they were his enemies) that God turned his captivity and blessed him mightily. Instead of cursing those who curse you, pray for them and be blessed!
Not only will God find it hard to forgive us if we cannot forgive others, but our prayers will always fall to the floor, never ascending to the heavens. Good point made re forgiveness.
We would all do well to get off of our high horse and climb down from our holier than thou pedestal and realize that harboring ill will toward those who have harmed us only harms us more. We will never accept God's forgiveness in our lives if we refuse to forgive those who have sinned against us
Well said because many people harbor I'll feelings for others and it shows more than they think and they may hide it from others but remember action speak louder than words and they will never hide it from God no matter which door that they place it in the house He will see it there .
Be forever blessed
Mark 11:22-24 is a good example that it is important to pay attention to the context as well as compare our interpretation of a passage against what other verses of the Bible say. The Bible speaks of laying down our will for God's will. To assume that our will is always God's will is presumptive and even arrogant. We can neither see the future or know what is best...even when we think we do. When we pray, we must always be willing to set God's will above our own and be willing to yield to His will.
I remember years ago when you told me I had to pray for a certain person, someone well described as an enemy. Of course I knew the Bible said to pray for our enemies, but that was some nebulous directive, certainly not for me personally! I would never fight the Philistines or the Edomites. Those were enemies.
Once again, you had hit me over the head with a Biblical 2 by 4...and brought the Word to life in application.