Matthew 21:20-22: When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked. 21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, 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.”
What does Jesus teach us about prayer in this section? First and foremost, we can pray with confidence that we will be heard. We should not pray just out of desperation, when all else has failed, when we have no other options. Such prayers from a doubting heart that does not deserve to be heard at all. We pray to God on every occasion because he has invited us to pray and promised to answer our prayers. I can pray when I am sick and when I am well, when I am bankrupt and when I am well provided for, when I am afraid and when I am at peace.
But what about the blank check that Jesus promises to give to his disciples? I have great confidence in my children, who have grown to be responsible adults who listen to the Word of God. I trust the decisions they make in their lives. I do not feel compelled to give them advice or guidance, though I may open my mouth too often to do so. In fact, more and more I find myself asking for their advice instead.
In the same way, Jesus knows your heart, and he knows that you want what God wants. You pray according to God’s will for your life. You don’t ask God to throw a mountain into the sea just to see if it will really happen. You don’t ask to win the jackpot, because you would prefer just your daily bread, which is neither too much or too little. You ask for those things that will work for the good of your faith and your family and God’s kingdom. That’s why Jesus gives you this wonderful promise of prayer.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I pray not because I must, but because you have invited me into your confidence to pray for whatever I might ask in your name. Give me a heart that prays with confidence and that prays according to your gracious good will. I ask this in your name. Amen.