11 And Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple area;and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late.12 On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. 13 Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to seeif perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!”And His disciples were listening.15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple area and began to drive out those who were selling and buying on the temple grounds, and He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; Mark 11:11-15
20 As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. 21 And being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree that You cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered and said to 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 is going to happen, it will be granted to him. 24 Therefore, I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted to you. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you for your offenses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your offenses.” Mark 11:20-26
Time and time again Jesus showed His power, yet the disciples were surprised. Time and time again I have seen Jesus do things, yet I am still surprised.
What does Jesus say must be there for prayer to be effective?
Belief. One must have belief. What is belief? The dictionary defines belief as: Trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.
But how can we increase our faith? The disciples asked that very question.
3 Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 But the Lord said, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.7 “Now which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him after he comes in from the field, ‘Come immediately and recline at the table to eat’? 8 On the contrary, will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? 9 He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? 10 So you too, when you do all the things which were commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’ ” Luke 17:3-10
What is the point of Jesus’ story in verse 10?
Obedience. Faith increases by obedience. The servant Jesus describes surely didn’t like fixing his master's dinner after a hard day’s work, plowing the field, but it wasn’t unfair or wrong. And in due time the servant was taken care of.
My wife has a saying, “when you can’t trust the hand, trust the heart.” Sometimes we don’t like the position God has us in but it’s not wrong or unfair. In those times trusting God’s heart (good intentions for you) and obeying His commands will increase our faith. What is your level of belief? Do you expect God to work?