DAILY DISCIPLINE #174
By Colleen Donahue
In our last study we looked at an incident that has always been puzzling to most of us. Jesus had finished an emotional, energetic day of confronting the money changers and dove sellers in the temple who were taking advantage of the pilgrims coming to Jerusalem for worship. He had walked a few miles back to Bethany for the evening and the next day on the way back into Jerusalem was feeling very hungry. He saw a beautiful fig tree, full of leaves which meant it should also be full of fruit. But upon inspection there was no fruit for the hungry Lord and he cursed the tree. This was an incident with a lesson and so we looked in our last study about what it means to be fruitful for God.
We continue in this study to look at the words Jesus spoke to his wide-eyed disciples who were still amazed that the fig tree had withered so fast. Jesus speaks one of the most incredible verses we will ever read and in so doing gives us a lesson in supernatural living.
The Prayer of Faith - A Lesson in Supernatural Living
Studies continued from Matthew 21: 20-22 / Mark 11: 22-24
Day 1- Jesus is responding to His disciple's amazement that the fig tree He cursed for not bearing figs had withered so quickly. He speaks to them with authority when He says, "I tell you the truth" or "verily I say to you." In reading Matthew 21:21 what is the first big "if" if we are to do some of the same things that Jesus does?
Day 2- Faith in its simplicity is acting upon our belief in God and what God can do. How is faith built up in us so that we can act with the same confidence that Christ did?
Luke 17:5 / Romans 10:17
Mark puts it simply and clearly that our faith must always be in God alone.
Day 3- In the same sentence that Jesus speaks of faith, He makes clear that faith cannot be mixed with doubt. Faith and doubt are like oil and water, or black and white. They are opposites. One of the finest examples of the results of doubt is in:
Matthew 14: 25-31
As long as Peter had his eyes on Jesus he was fine. But when he started to sink where had he been looking? (vs.30)
Day 4- Peter had not yet learned this vital lesson.
2 Corinthians 5:7
What is always at the back of our doubts?
Luke 22:67 / John 12:37 / Hebrews 3:12
Day 5- If we are doubting God and His ability here are some symptoms we'll see in ourselves:
A. We'll want to see some signs
Genesis 15:8 / Judges 6:17
B. We'll demand answers to our questions
C. We'll want tangible evidence before we act
Day 6- What is God's judgment if we start out in faith and end up in doubt?
Romans 14:23 / James 1: 6-8
The first two keys to supernatural action is :
1. Faith in God and HIS ability and
2. Our acting without doubting God's ability to work.
Day 7- It's the third key that I think is misunderstood in this passage. Read carefully:
WHO is performing the action and speaking the words? The answer is you and I. Prayer, or asking God in faith about something, gives US the ability to "do" and to act. It's not that we ask God to do something for us while we sit back and do nothing. No, this miracle working prayer is asking God by His power to make US able to act ourselves. Jesus is teaching here what James (the Lord's brother) wrote so well later.
James 2: 14-18
Day 8- Now read the accounts of the great men and women of faith. List what they did as a result of their faith in God.
Hebrews 11:7-12; 17-38
Day 9- At the end of Matthew 21:21 there is the phrase, "it will be done." The word for "done" in Greek is ginomai. It means "to cause to be". This same word and phrase is also used in Mark and John's gospel but they give us an expanded meaning.
Mark 11:23b / John 15:7
In these gospels the phrase reads, "and it will be done for him."
Day 10- In other words, when we begin to act in faith based on God's ability and not our own, then God begins to accomplish the very thing we need. How God moves Heaven and earth to act on our behalf based on our own small steps of faith is a mystery. But it's very real. What is possible to those of us who believe God and are willing to act on that belief?
Mark 9:23 / Mark 11:24 / Luke 17:6 / John 14:12
Day 11- Any supernatural living for God will be faced with problems and obstacles of all kinds. But we are to "make a way for the Lord." Read these verses to see what God will do for us.
Isaiah 40:3-5 / Isaiah 45:2-3 / Isaiah 49:11
Note: The wilderness, mountains, valleys, hills, doors, and bars are all the problems, obstacles, road blocks, set backs, and perplexities that loom ahead of us. Don't miss in these verses WHO is doing all the acting!
A Personal Example
For the past 24 years I have traveled as a sales representative with my company. Time and again I have been tired and discouraged and have sat in the car wondering if I should bother to make a call on one more store. I have walked through many a door feeling no enthusiasm or confidence and not really expecting that anything would happen. The only thing I knew was that if I did nothing then God wouldn't do anything either, even if He wanted to. So with that thought I would go through another door and deliver my lines like a numb actress. But here was (and still is) the exciting part. Often I would see God moving before my very eyes. The store owner would say to me in astonishment, "we were just looking for this type of product and didn't know where to find it. I can't believe you are here!" Or they might say, "We were just thinking about branching out and your product would be perfect!"
I would watch God level all the roads and pave the way for a good order and ultimately a good customer. I knew I had witnessed God at work on my behalf just because I opened the door and said my lines one more time. This was an example to me of the third key to supernatural living - "It will be done for you."
Day 12- The final verse of this section in Matthew and Mark is so big in its scope that it is hard to comprehend. WHAT does Jesus say we can pray for?
Matthew 21:22 / Mark 11:24
Whatever, all things whatsoever, everything -- does Jesus really mean that? Commentators vary in their reply to this but I believe Jesus meant just what He said. What we must remember here is WHO He was speaking to. Jesus was directly answering Peter, but also speaking to the other disciples with Him. As disciples, these men had .....
-left all to follow Jesus
-listened to His teaching
-saw that He was who He said He was -- i.e. the Son of God
-aligned their lives with Christ's and went everywhere with Him
- sought to do His will which they saw as being one with God's will
Day 13- Jesus knew this and He recognized before His Father that they were His faithful disciples.
John 17: 6-8
If you have done the same then Jesus recognizes you before His father and is saying to YOU, "whatever you ask you will receive."
Luke 11:9 / John 14:14 / John 15:7
Day 14- If I am truly God's disciple, then I "abide in Jesus and His words abide in me." Prayer becomes not so much a way to get things from God but a way to know God Himself. What do we do the more we know God?
1 John 3:22
If you have someone you love very much would you want anything that they wouldn't want? So it is, the more we love God the more we want only what brings Him pleasure and glory. John Rice in his very practical book called "Prayer is Asking" says, "...anything we have a right to want, anything we have a right to work for, anything we have a right to try to buy or plan about, that we have a right to pray for too!" (p.130 of Prayer is Asking)
Day 15- In fact, prayer about everything is God's cure for worry.
Day 16 -In Matthew 21:22, Jesus is taking His disciples beyond a prayer of trust and into a prayer of faith. We pray a prayer of trust for things when we can't find out if God is going to give them. There are many things we are content to leave to the Father and what He thinks is best. But with the prayer of faith we take our stand on a promise from God that is brought home to us by the Holy Spirit. When we begin to act on that promise, that is when we start to exercise faith. With our action there grows in us an assurance that God will give us the "whatever" we have asked for.
1 John 5:14-15
Day 17- There is one final key to this prayer of faith that is found in the phrase "you will receive". In most cases we will actually receive the thing we ask for in faith BEFORE we have it physically. There grows in us a certain "knowing" that God will give it just as we ask. We are content for God's timing because He alone knows when everything is fully ripe for the manifestation of the blessing. If we have truly received the thing we ask in faith then what do we find ourselves doing?
Psalm 107:22 / 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Day 18- Will you step out with the bold audacity of a child of God and begin to bring Him the desires of your heart knowing that He wants to give them to you?
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