No Figs! Any Prayer?

Hello, Centennial family! Have you ever read Matthew 21:18-22? Two big things happen in this text. First, Jesus cursed (and withered) a fig tree that was bearing no fruit. Second, the disciples ask how He did such a thing.

That fig tree “had nothing on it but only leaves” (Matt. 21:19). The problem with the only leaves part of that verse is that if a fig tree has leaves, it also has fruit! I never like eating figs off the tree as much as my wife does, but I do enjoy benefitting from the homemade fig preserves! Sadly, it seems this tree couldn’t even blame the birds picking at it. It just wasn’t bearing fruit. In fact, you could call it a hypocrite fig tree because it didn’t have any figs at all! Jesus was giving the disciples a living parable of the scribes, lawyers, and Pharisees that were all around them (they had just entered the capital city of Jerusalem after all). These men were coming to Jesus, asking seemingly spiritual questions, but in a way that made it obvious, they were fruitless—figless!

How is your fruit, dear brother or sister? Are your leaves green from worldly pleasure but lacking in the fruit of the Holy Spirit? Cry out to God! Ask Him daily for a renewed vigor in reading Scripture, spending time with and serving other believers, and praying. Be encouraged along the way and warned by this Scripture, “And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, ‘May no fruit ever come from you again!’ And the fig tree withered at once” (Matt. 21:19).

After seeing the fig tree wither, the disciples ask an interesting question. Instead of asking why Jesus cursed the tree, they wanted to know how He could do such a thing. “When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, ‘How did the fig tree wither at once?’” (Matt. 21:20). Jesus answered them with the truth that if we hold fast to our Christian faith and squash doubt, we could not only wither a little fig tree but move mountains (Matt. 21:21)! Moreover, “whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matt. 21:22).

How can our prayers be answered? The first and only prerequisite is faith (built into this is that squashing of doubt from earlier). This faith changes a lot of things. Faith means the Holy Spirit has gripped and changed you through Jesus Christ! Faith changes what we want. We don’t want to pray for things for ourselves; rather, we want to pray for God to be glorified in what we do. This is a big deal when it comes to how we should understand prayer and answered prayer. Prayer is not meant to be like wishes coming from a genie in a bottle; rather, prayer is meant to bring us into a close and intimate relationship with a God who is our Father.

There is one final thing. Do you pray? How can you receive if you have not asked? Would you pray for our family at Centennial? Would you pray for growth, health, depth, service, community presence, and so on? Would you pray with your families for the same? When is the last time you’ve prayed with your wife or husband or children for a deepened relationship with them?

Do these things, and don’t be surprised when God stays true to His Word. Blessings,