Monday, February 08, 2010

The Power of Prayer

Mark 11:22-25
(22)  And Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God.
(23)  Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
(24)  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
(25)  And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."








(22)  καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει αὐτοῖς, Ἔχετε πίστιν θεοῦ, 
(23)  ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ὃς ἂν εἴπῃ τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ, Ἄρθητι καὶ βλήθητι εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν, καὶ μὴ διακριθῇ ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ ἀλλὰ πιστεύῃ ὅτι ὃ λαλεῖ γίνεται, ἔσται αὐτῷ. 
(24)  διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν, πάντα ὅσα προσεύχεσθε καὶ αἰτεῖσθε, πιστεύετε ὅτι ἐλάβετε, καὶ ἔσται ὑμῖν. 

(25)  καὶ ὅταν στήκετε προσευχόμενοι, ἀφίετε εἴ τι ἔχετε κατά τινος, ἵνα καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς ἀφῇ ὑμῖν τὰ παραπτώματα ὑμῶν.

This is Jesus' explanation for the withered fig tree. It is also perhaps one of the more abused passages in Scripture here in America. Is Jesus' advocating a prosperity theology here?  I don't think so, but I'm not entirely sure how to take this.  One thing I am sure of is that prayer does not change God's mind in the way we think of minds being changed.  When I read Ephesians 1:10 I see that God has a plan for the fullness of time.  I don't see how that plan is going to change by my desire to have more stuff or even to see suffering alleviated in the world.

What I do know is that verse 25 has got in the way of many a prayer.  It certainly has interfered with some of mine.  It seems that forgiveness is expected of us as well.  The word ἀφῇ is in the subjunctive.  That is the mood of possibility.  In other words, we must extend grace for this to be possible.

This is a tough post to write and I feel like I should have picked something easier.  However, I do welcome comments.

5 comments:

Joshua Allen said...

I'm guessing that someone who really has faith that God will do what He says He will do, would not ask for anything contrary to God's will. That is, if we really believed God's promises, we would only ask for things that advance his plans.

It seems that God *does* want us to ask Him for things, even if He knows what we want and already knows what will happen. I was struck by the passages where He says, "my people no longer cry out to me".

Jason said...

Joshua,

I agree.

Jason said...

Here is today's Tozer:

The Holy Spirit: Some Other Time

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I
do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because
I go to My Father.
--John 14:12

"You will receive power" (Acts 1:8a). "Eagerly desire the greater
gifts" (1 Corinthians 12:31a). Anything that God has ever done for a
soul He will do for anyone else, if the conditions are met. The Lord
who blessed these men that I spoke about, and the thousands who
followed them but whose names are not known, is willing to do the
same for us as He did for them.

Unbelief says: Some other time, but not now; some other place, but
not here; some other people, but not us. Faith says: Anything He did
anywhere else He will do here; anything He did any other time He is
willing to do now; anything He ever did for other people He is
willing to do for us! With our feet on the ground, and our head cool,
but with our heart ablaze with the love of God, we walk out in this
fullness of the Spirit, if we will yield and obey. God wants to work
through you!

The Counselor has come, and He doesn't care about the limits of
locality, geography, time or nationality. The Body of Christ is
bigger than all of these. The question is: Will you open your heart?
The Counselor, 121.

"This thought is very convicting, Lord. I know I've been guilty of
praising You for Your power and goodness, while secretly doubting
that You were really going to work in my present situation. Forgive
me that duplicity, Lord, and give me faith to believe You for Now,
for Here, for Me. Amen."

Joshua Allen said...

The part about forgiving others is a sore spot for me, for sure.

Really good food for thought in that last comment. For some reason, the prayer at the close of the comment reminds me very much of Job. Not that I'm comparing you or your sufferings to Job, but it seems that this specific issue and your framing it was sort of the crux of the story.

Jason said...

Joshua,

I wish I could take credit for that prayer, but it was part of the daily email I get. You can go to http://www.litmin.org if you want to subscribe to the daily Tozer. Many of them are very, very good.

Blessings,
Jason