COMMUNICATIONS CLINIC: JESUS TEACHES ON PRAYER
Lesson #4 – PRAYER THAT LEADS TO FAITHFULNESS – MARK 11:12-26
What do the following verses tell you about fruitfulness?
· John 15:5-8 – Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast [them] into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
· John 15:16 – Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
· Ephesians 5:9 – (For the fruit of the Spirit [is] in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
· James 3:18 – And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
· Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
· Romans 1:13 – Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.
· 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 – For what [is] our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? [Are] not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.
As we continue to study the teachings of Jesus on prayer, we come to an unusual story accompanied with those teachings. Jesus “curses” a fig tree. We may think it strange that Jesus would do a destructive act, but if that act helps us learn valuable spiritual truth it is well worth it!
THE PROBLEM OF HYPOCRISY Vss. 11-19
· Vss. 11-13 – There were early and later figs. Although it was not yet time for figs, the abundance of leaves indicated that there should be figs. The leaves and the early figs arrived at about the same time.
· The tree was a “hypocrite”, pretending to be what it wasn’t – a fruitful tree.
· In the Old Testament Israel was likened to a fig tree. Jeremiah 8:13, Hosea 9:110, Nahum 3:12
· Jesus often took issue with the hypocrisy of Israel and her leaders. Matthew 15:7-9 – [Ye] hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with [their] lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. Matthew 23:28 – Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
· Vs. 14 – In pronouncing judgment on the fig tree, Jesus was also pronouncing judgment on Israel.
· Vss. 15-16 – Israel was hypocritical in its worship procedures. Outwardly Israel was very religious. There were many sacrifices and religious laws kept carefully.
· Israel’s hypocrisy was shown in the way the temple worship had become “big business” for the religious leaders.
· Vs. 17 – Why was Jesus so adamant in his cleansing of the temple?
· In what ways do our bodies, which are also houses of prayer, become “dens of thieves”?
· In what other ways are we as Christians guilty of hypocrisy?
· What is the correlation between fruitfulness and hypocrisy?
THE PRIORITY OF FAITH Vss. 20-23
· Vs. 20-21 – How did the withered fig tree stand as a warning to Israel?
· Luke 13:6-9 – He spake also this parable; A certain [man] had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung [it]: And if it bear fruit, [well]: and if not, [then] after that thou shalt cut it down.
· What does the parable above teach us about Israel and ourselves?
· Vs. 22 – When we see hypocrisy in ourselves, how will faith in God help?
· Why is faith in God essential to dealing with our hypocrisy?
· Vs. 23 – I think of a mountain as an encumbrance. Our habitual sins are encumbrances. By faith we can claim victory over them. Romans 6:11-14 – Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 8:3-4 – Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
· Why do our declarations of victory over habitual sin often fail?
· What are keys to a true declaration of victory over sin?
· How does victory over sin lead to fruitfulness?
THE POWER OF PRAYER Vs. 24
· What is the connection between the declaration of faith in verse 23 and prayer.
· How does prayer lead to fruitfulness?
· 1 John 5:14-15 – And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
· Consider the testimony of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:10 – And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.
THE PREREQUISITE OF FORGIVENESS Vss. 25-26
· Why was Jesus so adamant about us forgiving others?
· Why is a lack of forgiveness a hindrance to faith and prayer?
· When should we examine our lives to see if we have truly forgiven others?