Summary: After praying, what do you do in the "between times" before the answer comes. This sermon points out four major things.
What to do Between the “Amen” and the “There it Is”
INTRODUCTION: Mark 11:12-14 relates the story of Jesus curing the fig tree. Nothing appeared to happen to the trees in the natural at the time Jesus spoke these words. If the tree had withered and died right before their eyes, the disciples would have been very excited about it. They would have told everyone. In verse 20, when Jesus came back by the tree the next day, it had withered at the roots. The disciples took notice of this and were amazed. They seemed really surprised to see this happen. How many times are we, also, surprised when our prayers are answered? I think we often are surprised.
Some feel that it was unfair of Jesus to curse and destroy an innocent fig tree because, according to Scripture, it was not the season for figs. However, in doing a little research, the fig tree of Palestine, if it has kept its leaves through the winter, usually contains figs also. This one didn’t have any. If a tree is fully leafed out, you would normally expect to find fruit still on it. The figure portrays the spiritual barrenness of the nation that would soon crucify the King it now so glibly hails during the triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
There are many directions we can go with this text, but I want to relate it to prayer. We find it very easy to give up when we pray and don’t see immediate results. That seems to be a problem for us in our instant society. We are not used to waiting on things. We want things to happen “yesterday” if not sooner. Things are a little different in the realm of prayer. When things don’t happen instantly, that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening at the root of the problem or behind the scenes. When we pray according to the Word of God, in faith, something is beginning to happen in the spiritual. The Source of the power for performing the miracle in the story of the fig tree was God. He must be the object of our faith at the time of prayer and in the meantime until the answer comes. It is what you do in this “between time” after you have said, “Amen” that determines whether or not you have a “There it is!” Many times we don’t KNOW what to do or we FORGET what to do. The “between time is critical” to our receiving answers to our prayers.
During the past few days you have been praying about many things. You may have prayer lists, you may have prayed with a prayer partner, knelt at an alter, joined hands with others in a circle, or prayed in other ways. You have prayed for specific people to be saved and people in pain to be healed. You may have prayed for finances. There may have been general needs for people around the world. You have said, “Amen.” Now what? At times we experience discouragement and frustration when the answers are slow in coming, and they do not unfold right before our eyes. We are at the “between times” in many of our prayers. Sometimes at the end of our prayer time after we say “Amen,” the enemy comes even in greater force to attack and discourage us. It is during these “between times” that we need insight on how to respond until then “There it is!” comes to pass.
Scripture gives us much insight on what to do between the “Amen” and the “There it is!” which should be helpful to us in the days ahead. Here are a few things to remember:
1. Have Faith: vs. 22 says to “Have faith in God.” Sometimes this is called “the God kind of faith.” We must believe that something is continuing to happen in the spiritual once we say, “Amen,” even when we don’t see any changes taking place in the natural. Even though a sin-hardened person looks and acts the same on the outside, our prayer of faith is causing some of the hardness to melt on the inside. How do we know this? This is where faith comes in--faith that believes that God has heard and is doing something. Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him.” When we pray we must believe that God is there to hear us and that He is going to send answers to our earnest prayers of faith. HOW He answers is up to Him. We don’t know who will just “happen” to come across the person’s pathway that we are praying for.