Everything in life has an effective way of doing them. This involves both the spiritual and the physical. God has principles and we ought to follow His principles if we need to see results in whatever that we do.
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus gradually reveals the secret of effective prayers through the cursing of the fig tree. Let us break them in details.
When Jesus is feeling hungry and goes to the fig tree expecting some fruits from it and sees none, the next thing He does is to curse the fig tree.
Many people would be surprised at this, but Jesus only uses this to teach us something.
When you go through this chapter, you will discover that Mark states categorically that it is not yet the season for the fig tree to bear fruits.
So, it is not a problem of the fig tree. The cursing of the fig tree is to teach us something.
Here, the cursing of the fig tree teaches us that God expects us to bear fruits all the time. He comes to us expecting something tangible from us.
The way to continually win the heart of God is to live our lives working for Him. Find something today, and continually do it for God.
Remember that before Jesus goes into agony, He also tells his disciples in John 15:7-8, “if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples”.
In verse 16, He repeats “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit that will last and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
Therefore, fruitful life is a secret of effective prayer. To live our lives for the sake of God and promoting the gospel brings us closer to Him and God hears the prayers of those who remain close to Him and work for Him.
2. The Power of the Spoken Word of God.
To create the world, God speaks to the formless void and the earth takes shape. The only creatures God gives this gift of speaking are human beings.
He gives it to us also to speak life, faith and blessings into our lives. Jesus says to His hearers in John 6:63, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life”.
Therefore, when we pray, speak God’s word into your life, into your soul, in your future, in everything happening to you. Hebrews 4:12 says that the word of God is living and active.
It is through His word, that He conquered the devil during His temptation, it is through His word, that He brought Lazarus to life, it is through His word that healed many diseases and expelled many demons.
Today, to curse the fig tree, Jesus has to speak to it. When the disciples told him that the fig tree has withered, his first statement is that “if anyone says..” Hence to speak or say it is extremely important. Proverbs 18:21 says that Life and death are under the power of the tongue
In Matthew 12:37, He says “by your words, you will be acquitted, and by your words, you will be condemned.”.
3. Have Strong Faith.
When you observe what the Blessed Virgin Mary did in John 2:5, what Bartimaeus did in Mark 10:46, 52, and what Jesus did today, you will observe a clear similarity.
First, their statements were short and simple. The Blessed Virgin Mary’s prayer in John 2 is “they have no wine”, Bartimaeus prayer is “Jesus son of David have mercy on me”, and today, Jesus only cursed the fig tree saying “May no one ever eat fruit from you again”.
Secondly, in these prayers, you will also observe faith in action. Therefore, the power of prayers is not how much we shout and cause distractions during prayers but your faith.
Sometimes you pray as your spirit directs but there should be faith. The magnitude of faith is what makes prayer powerful. This is what the cursing of the fig tree is teaching us.
Prayer goes beyond mere reciting of words in a book, but reciting them and believing them. This is not when we rush prayer to go over to another form of activity. In your prayer, your mind, souls and spirit must be actively involved.
Thirdly, in John 2, Virgin Mary did not ask further, she went into action, Bartimaeus threw away His beggar’s cloak immediately with a belief that Jesus would heal him.
Today, after cursing the fig tree, Jesus moved on. He did not stay there to wait for the manifestation.
From every indication, the withering of the fig tree does not happen immediately, he says that. It was after.
When the disciples tell him that the tree has withered, Jesus simply says “‘Have faith in God.” And the way to do this is to pray without doubt but believe that God answers prayers.
This corroborates what Hebrews 11:6 says that “before you come in God’s presence, you must, first of all, believe that He exists and can answer prayers.
Do not pray to try God, do not pray to see if God can or cannot. There should not be any place for “if” in God’s presence. The only thing needed in God’s presence is certainty and not a probability.
4. Free Your Heart.
In 1 Timothy 2:8, Paul writes to Timothy, “I want the men everywhere to pray, to lift up holy hands without anger, envy, and dissension. And today while teaching them the lessons of the cursing of the fig tree, Jesus says when you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failings too. But if you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive your failings either.’
In essence, we have to pray always with a clean and pure heart.
The problem that we have is that many pray with hatred, envy, jealousy, wickedness, evil agenda, disunity everywhere, quarrelling etc.
This is the reason, it is good to go to sacramental confession always. Free your heart from sin, guilt, envy, bitterness, hatred, wickedness, jealousy, forgiveness and grudges. Forgive and let go.
To forgive is for our benefit and not even for the benefit of the other person. Pray with a pure heart. In Matthew 5:8, Jesus says that those who are pure in heart are already blessed.
Let us then make our house a house of prayer and not a house of quarrelling, disunity, sin, hatred etc.
May God forgive us and give us the grace to pray effectively. Amen.