Today I was reading a passage from Matthew 21. Its a short passage, verses 18-22, containing two important ideas. The first is the miracle of the fig tree, where Jesus looks for fruit and, finding none, causes the tree to wither. What do we learn from this? Firstly, don’t be a fig tree around Jesus. Secondly, fruit trees are meant to bear fruit, so make sure you’re bearing fruit (some people refer to this particular miracle as an ‘enacted parable’- Jesus was teaching his disciples but made his point by his actions… its a nice phrase)
Anyway, that whole shebang about bearing fruit… its really important. But its not what I want to write about today.
A few verses later there’s a killer sentence ‘if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer’. Now, this verse is a real splitter. People tend to either take it onboard wholesale and so pray for anything and everything with complete faith. Or else they tend to put it in the ‘too tricky for me’ pile and don’t pray with much faith that God will turn up.
The difficulty comes because sometimes things happen, and sometimes they don’t. Does that stem from my faith, my sin, God’s power, God’s attention span, or what?
If I believe, God should answer my prayer.
The question I had this morning was ‘what is prayer?’ Do we sometimes define prayer loosely as ‘anything we talk to God about’. I know i do, especially when I’m trying to teach someone how to pray. But when I’m asking God for something, is prayer more tightly defined as ‘being in alignment with God’ or similar… and so my role in prayer isn’t simply to do the whole ‘Thanks, Sorry, Wow, Please’ format, but to seek to bring my thoughts and desires into line with God… and to allow God’s will and plans, as laid out in Scripture and through the Holy Spirit to spread into my thoughts and desires… that way my prayer will become God’s will…
And so when I pray, it won’t be on my terms, but on His.
When I pray, it won’t be my timing, but His.
And when I pray for the moving of a mountain, it’ll be because God has already brought the earthmovers to the foothills.
Or am i just copping out? I’d love to know what others think about this.