Jesus says: If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. Experience has shown us that not all our prayers are answered. So, what's wrong?
Matthew 21:20-22 - Ask and Receive
Hello and welcome to the Bite-Sized Gospel with Aneel Aranha. Today we will reflect on Matthew 21:20-22. Listen.
When the disciples saw [Jesus cursing a fig tree which instantly withered], they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked. Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Jesus says: If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. Experience has shown us that not all our prayers are answered. In fact, very few are, which suggests two possibilities: one, Jesus wasn’t being entirely honest; two, we lack the requisite faith. Since Jesus cannot lie, it leaves us with the second option. So, what’s wrong with our faith?
It might have to do with how we look at Christ. Do we see him as a magic genie whose only purpose is to grant our wishes, or do we see him as the Lord of the Universe? If we see him as an unconditional granter of wishes, we will surely be disappointed because he hasn’t popped out of a magic lamp to serve us and cater to our every desire. However, if we see him as Lord of the Universe, which is who he is, then we will serve *him* and make ourselves subject to *his* desires rather than the other way around. And then he will make even the impossible possible. Like telling a mountain to throw itself into the sea!
The one surefire way of getting our prayers answered is by remaining in Jesus and letting his word remain in us. Jesus said: If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you (John 15:7). How do we remain in Jesus? By ensuring we are in constant communion with him, trusting him to meet all our needs while surrendering ourselves totally into his control. How do we let his word remain in us? By understanding why God asks us to do what he asks us to do and then doing it with total obedience.
We often pay lip service to God, proclaiming his Lordship in words but not translating it into action. The apostle James puts it beautifully: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves,” he says. “Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do”.
And part of being blessed is having God answer our prayers.
May the Spirit be with you.