Mark 11:20-26

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 20, 2005


People have some silly ideas when it comes to prayer.  Some think it’s just a joke.


A guy from Tyson Foods arranges to visit the Pope. After receiving the papal blessing he whispers, “Your Eminence, do we have a deal for you. If you change The Lord’s Prayer from ‘give us this day our daily bread....’ to ‘give us this day our daily chicken....’ we will donate $500 million dollars to the Church”. The Pope responds saying, “That is impossible. The Prayer is the Word of the Lord and it must not be changed”. “Well,” says the Tyson man, “we are prepared to donate $1billion to the Church if you change the Lord’s Prayer from ‘give us this day our daily bread....’ to ‘give us this day our daily chicken....” Again the Pope replies “That is impossible. The Prayer is the Word of the Lord and it must not be changed”. Finally, the Tyson guy says, “This is our last offer. We will donate $5 billion to the church if you change the Lord’s Prayer from give us this day our daily bread....’ to ‘give us this day our daily chicken....’” and he leaves. Next day the Pope meets with the College of Cardinals to say that he has good news and bad news. “The good news is that the Church has come into $5 billion”. “The bad news is that we are losing The Wonderbread Account”.

Prayer is not a joke.  It’s not a scam.  God hears and answers prayer.

Mark 11:20-26

:20 And in the morning …

morningproi – it’s early in the morning, between 3-6 a.m.

:21 Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master …

Last week we talked about Jesus’ grand entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday with the crowds shouting “Hosanna”. When He came into Jerusalem, the first thing He did was to go to the Temple and look around. But He didn’t say or do anything else that day except go back to Bethany to spend the night.

On Monday morning Jesus got up early and started toward Jerusalem when He spotted this fig tree. As we mentioned last week, it wasn’t time for the full figs, but at this time of year there were these small edible buds that grew on fig trees called the “early ripe fruits”. Because the leaves were already on the fig tree, there should have been this fruit as well. When Jesus saw that there wasn’t any fruit, He said, “No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever”.

Why did Jesus say this to the tree? Was He just cranky? No. He said it because God desires fruit.

We talked about how the fig tree was one of the symbols of Israel. We talked about how Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem was His coming to look for fruit.

And on Monday morning, when He didn’t find fruit in the Temple, He cleaned house – throwing out the merchants who were ripping people off in the Temple.

What does God desire? God desires fruit. He desires fruit in our lives.

And now on Tuesday morning, this fig tree has completely withered from the roots up.

:22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

We may be wondering why Jesus cursed the tree, but the response He gives to Peter has to do with how He did it, not why He did it.

The word for “God” in the Greek tells us that “God” is the object of “faith”.

We aren’t supposed to have faith in faith, but faith in God.

:23 …say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea

Literally, “be plucked up and tossed into the sea

Jesus and His disciples are up in the hills of Judaea. I would imagine the disciples are thinking of someone picking up the Mount of Olives and tossing it into the Dead Sea.

:23 and shall not doubt in his heart

doubtdiakrino – “to judge between two”; a divided judgment, a wavering doubt. James uses this word to describe a person who “wavers” when he is asking God for something. James says …

(James 1:6) For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

:23 …he shall have whatsoever he saith

The one who doesn’t doubt can move mountains.


Moving mountains

God will move mountains.
I found it interesting to see that there are a couple of places in Scripture where it speaks of mountains being thrown down, even thrown into the sea. Both times are in the future.

During the invasion of Israel by Gog and Magog, God says there will be an earthquake:

(Ezek 38:20 KJV) …and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.

During the Great Tribulation:

(Rev 8:8 KJV) And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast (grk: ballo) into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;

I wonder if someone will be praying when these things happen. (Note:  actually, someone is praying, see Rev. 8:3-4).

God can move mountains.
After the Babylonian captivity, the people of Judah returned to the land and one of the tasks before them was to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Zerubbabel was the fellow in charge of the project.
(Zec 4:6-7 NKJV) So he answered and said to me: "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' Says the LORD of hosts. {7} 'Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone With shouts of "Grace, grace to it!"' "
For Zerubbabel, the mountain was the humungous task of rebuilding the Temple.
The task wouldn’t be accomplished by Zerubbabel’s might or power. The job would be done by the Holy Spirit.
And when the last stone was put in place, people will be marveling at God’s grace.
Are you facing mountains today?
It might be a health issue. It might be finances. It might be a relationship. It might be a job. It might be your family.
(Psa 97:5 NKJV) The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD, At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.

:24 …What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe …

There’s a command here. We are to believe. We are to trust.

:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive …

There’s another command here. Forgive.


Keys to Answered Prayer

Jesus gives some important instruction concerning prayer. But keep in mind that it is early in the morning and He is with His disciples, not the crowd. He is not going to give a comprehensive, all-inclusive teaching about prayer, He’s just talking about a couple of important things. He has been with these fellows for three years now. They are His disciples. There are quite a few lessons they’ve learned along the way, things they already have built into their lives. For a person to say, “The one and only key to answered prayer is faith” is simply being short-sighted.
1. His will
(1 John 5:14-15 KJV) And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: {15} And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
God is not a genie in a bottle who has to do whatever we ask Him to do. He is God Almighty. He is our Lord and Master.
Even Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane:

(Luke 22:42 NKJV) saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."

A key to answered prayer is asking for the things God wants.
How do I know what God wants?

The best way is to be sure you read His letters to you (the Bible).

What if I don’t know what God wants?

It’s also okay to pray, “Whatever Your will is” if you don’t know. But a person praying this in faith is going to give God praise no matter how it turns out. If you really believe God is going to do what’s best, then what happens is best.

2. Obedience
It’s much easier to know how to ask according to His will when you are living according to His will.
(1 John 3:22-23 KJV) And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. {23} And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
When I walk in obedience to God, does He “owe me”? Not at all.

But when I walk in obedience to God, I am learning more and more what pleases Him.

That means I learn more and more what His will is. I know what to pray for.

If I goof up and sin, does that mean that God won’t answer any of my prayers? No. He is gracious. He will answer some of your prayers.
But He wants you to be close to Him. He wants you to know what it’s like for Him to answer all of your prayers. And you’ll know what to pray for if you’re walking in obedience.
3. Forgiveness
(Mark 11:25 NKJV) "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
Forgiveness from God

We need God’s forgiveness if we expect Him to listen to us.

(Psa 66:18 KJV) If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:


A concerned husband went to a doctor to talk about his wife. He says to the doctor, “Doctor, I think my wife is deaf because she never hears me the first time and always asks me to repeat things.” “Well,” the doctor replied, “go home and tonight stand about 15 feet from her and say something to her. If she doesn’t reply move about 5 feet close and say it again. Keep doing this so that we’ll get an idea about the severity of her deafness”. Sure enough, the husband goes home and does exactly as instructed. He starts off about 15 feet from his wife in the kitchen as she is chopping some vegetables and says, “Honey, what’s for dinner?” He hears no response. He moves about 5 feet closer and asks again. No reply. He moves 5 feet closer. Still no reply. He gets fed up and moves right behind her, about an inch away, and asks again, “Honey, what’s for dinner?” She replies, “For the fourth time, vegetable stew!”

Sometimes we think God has a problem when the problem is really ours.

Forgiveness comes when we deal with our sins

(1 John 1:9 KJV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

To “confess” means to “agree with”. I must agree with God about my sins. I must agree that my sins were wrong. I must agree that God wants me to turn from my sins. I must agree that Jesus has paid for my sins.

He is just to forgive us because of what Jesus did on the cross. Jesus died in our place. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins.

He is faithful to forgive us. We can count on Him forgiving us if we will simply confess our sins to Him.

Forgiveness towards others

Jesus says that if I don’t forgive others, then God won’t forgive me.

Jesus told a story (Mat. 18) about a man who owed the king thirty million dollars. When the man couldn’t pay what he owed, he was going to be thrown into prison. But the man got on his knees and begged the king for mercy and the king surprised everyone and forgave the man the entire debt of thirty million dollars. The next day the man went out and found a fellow who owed him thirty bucks. When the man couldn’t pay, even though the man begged, the fellow threw his friend into jail. When the king found out about this, he threw the first fellow into jail as well.

God’s forgiveness towards us is so huge that it ought to teach us that we should forgive others as well.

If God has forgiven us so much, how dare we hold something against another person?

A key to God answering my prayers is forgiveness.
4. Faith
(Mark 11:22-24 NKJV) So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God. {23} "For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. {24} "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
It’s having faith in God, not in faith.

Being confident in God. Trusting in God.

It’s not something that you can boast about later saying, “Look what my great faith did!” But it’s, “Look what my great God did!”

Abraham had this kind of faith when he was given the ability to conceive a son in his old age:

(Rom 4:19-21 NKJV) And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb. {20} He did not waver (grk: diakrino) at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, {21} and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

He knew God’s will because he had God’s promise.

He didn’t look at his own weakness but at God’s strength.

Got any mountains that need to be moved? Pray.