Summary: Discussion of being fruitful in prayer.
What We Can Learn from a Dead Fig Tree
(Part 2 – Faith in Prayer)
July 6, 2008
NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT USED IN MY MESSAGES IS BORROWED FROM ANDY STANLEY’S BOOK, "COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE."
Me: My guess is that many of you, especially those of you who grew up in church, prayed really cool prayers grew up.
You probably prayed spiritual things like, “Lord, help me to love Jesus. Help me to be godly. Help to find a good Christian girl with a heart to win people for Jesus.”
I prayed for stuff like puppies and bikes. Anybody else here do that?
I didn’t know much about God, but I knew that He was all-powerful, so I figured, “why not?”
Of course, the trick is to tell your parents you’re praying for these things, in the hopes that God would answer your prayer by having them stop by the store on the way home from work, right?
But on a more serious note, it took me a lot of time to learn some things about prayer that would help me be a person who could pray with confidence, knowing that God hears and understands, and many times actually grants our request.
We: All of us have had times when we really wondered if God hears our prayers and answers them.
What does it take to have our prayers answered?
We see some people who pray and pray, and God just seems to waiting for the opportunity to answer their prayers.
The lady we named after Ellene after, a lady everybody calls “Mrs. J.” is one of those people.
It’s almost like if she’s praying for it, it’s a done deal. Just a matter of time before God grants what she’s asking.
I wish I would have known her when I was asking God for those puppies and bikes!
But what about the rest of us? What about those of us who wonder at times if God is listening and if He cares, and if He’s actually able to do what it is we’re asking of Him?
A lot of times, life just gets overwhelming, doesn’t it? It seems to just beat up on us for no reason, and it leaves us wondering about whether or not God can do anything about it.
Well I hope that today, your faith in God and in His power will be refreshed as we look at these words of Jesus.
God: Last week of Jesus’ life on earth, and Jesus was heading back to Jerusalem after spending the night in Bethany.
Matthew 21:18-22 (p. 698) –
18 Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered.
That’s where we focused last week as we talked about the fact that God expects us to be fruitful for Him – in how we love Him, how we love others, and in how we display the fruit of the Spirit.
Let’s continue to the verses that form the basis of our time together today:
20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked.
21 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ’Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
This is some really great stuff about how God works through prayer.
And before we really get into the meat of what I want to share with you, I want to point out that this isn’t the first time Jesus references the idea of a mountain being tossed into the sea to explain that nothing is too big for God when we come to Him in prayer
He also said the same thing back in chapter 17 when He had healed a demon-possessed boy.
In that passage, Jesus said that if the disciples had faith as small as a mustard seed they could throw the mountain where Jesus was gloriously transfigured into the sea.
Here Jesus says if they have faith and don’t doubt, they can throw this other mountain into the sea. That’s an awful lot of scenic real estate.
And I don’t know about you, but when I see Jesus repeating something, either in what He says or in what He does, I tend to think that He probably felt it was important for us to get a handle on. What do you think?