How does one pray in order to have his prayer answered? What does he say? How is he to say it? What key ingredients are in the recipe of the answered prayer that Jesus taught his disciples?
19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.
20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Context: This passage was preceded by the incident of Jesus cursing the fig tree that didn’t have any fruit. He was hungry and went to see if he could get any fig to eat. Seeing there was none, Jesus said “May you never bear fruit again.” So the fig tree died.
Jesus took the opportunity to teach his disciples about prayer. The first key ingredient to prayer: faith in God. It is seemingly impossible to pray for the mountain to throw itself into the sea. Yet, Jesus said if one prays without any doubt in his heart, he will surely get his prayer answered. The essence of the prayer is faith. It is not praying for selfish reasons. It is praying because one believes that God is able to do what he asks. It is about trust in the one to whom prayer is offered. How often we put God in a box. We pray for things we think possible in our limited understanding, we fail to tap into God’s great resources. This prayer of faith is one of selfless dependence on God. It is not foolish selfish praying to make God our genie.
Second ingredient to prayer is forgiveness. When we pray, we go to God with our weaknesses. We are sinful, we offend him knowingly or unknowingly. Jesus taught that when we pray, we are to forgive anyone who offended us. We are not to hold grudges. To truly forgive is to let go of the hatred and the need to retaliate. When I pray forgiving my offender, the person who hurt me, I have the assurance that God also forgives me.
How to get your prayer answered? Pray big – pray in faith. How to pray right? Pray light – pray with forgiveness. Let go and let God. Surely God answers.