“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24 NIV
To understand this verse, we need to step back and look at the events from the previous day. One day, on the way to the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus was walking with his disciples. It had been a long day, and they were famished. Up ahead, Jesus spots a fig tree. It wasn’t fig season, but the tree was in leaf and appeared to have fruit. So Jesus decides to check it out. Finding there was no fruit, Jesus cursed the tree. On the return trip the next day, they passed the tree again; this time, the tree had wasted away -- all dried and shriveled. Peter points this out to Jesus and receives the reply, “Have faith in God.”
At first, this may seem like odd behavior by Jesus, but his messages were always more profound than what appeared to be happening on the surface. Jesus’s pronouncement was really about having absolute belief. In the scripture, immediately before this one, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.“ So when we pray, we must believe; otherwise, we are like the fig tree in full leaf but bearing no fruit. If we pray without faith, we are simply showing God a bunch of leaves -- the fruit is the evidence of our faith.
God, we give you thanks for your promise to answer prayers. We confess that while we know you respond to our prayers, we sometimes struggle with doubt. We do not believe and trust you fully. Lord, please help us remember the promise Jesus taught us and help us conquer all unbelief. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.