Persevere in Prayer - Mark 11. 11-24
T.W. Maunder, Cardiff
On one occasion when the Lord was returning with His disciples from Bethany to Jerusalem, He was hungry and saw a fig tree in the distance. Though it was not yet the time for new figs, there was still the possibility of some figs being left on it. But on drawing near it proved to have only leaves. The Lord then said to the fig tree 'No man cat fruit of thee hereafter for ever' and then proceeded with the disciples to Jerusalem. Next morning, they saw what was left of the fig tree and Peter said 'Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away'. It was in fact 'dried up from the roots'. Almost certainly the withering process started as soon as the Lord said 'No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever'. In answer to His faith the power of God began to operate at once. At first its operation was secret. No human eye saw the shrivelling of the roots. But presently the effect of what had taken place below ground was apparent above ground, as the life faded from the tree and its leaves withered in the burning sun. Thus the reality of the Father's answer to the Lord's words was evident to the disciples on this second day.
The Lord proceeded to teach them a lesson of prayer and faith from what happened to the tree. He says 'What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them'. Notice He docs not say 'Believe that ye shall receive them' but 'Believe that ye receive them', that is 'Believe that, as you are praying, God is answering'. You may not be able to see the answer at the moment, any more than you could see the roots underground withering, but God is working.
Perhaps you have been praying for a long time for the conversion
of a friend or relative, and so far, there seems no indication of your prayer being answered. But it may be that God is working underground in the heart and conscience, bringing conviction and dissatisfaction that will eventually result in salvation.
In one case a believer had prayed for his father for twenty years with no apparent result. One day he was sent for as his father was not expected to last long. The first thing he said to him when he arrived home was 'How is it with you, Dad' and the reply was 'It is all right, I have been praying for nights when you knew nothing about it'. The father rallied after this and lived long enough to prove the reality of his profession, and to show that he was truly the Lord's.
Unanswered yet? The prayer your lips have pleaded
In agony of heart these many years, Does faith begin to fail? Is hope departing? And think you all in vain those falling tears?
Say not the Father has not heard thy prayer,
You shall have your desire, sometime, somewhere.