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The Power of Prayer
Reflecting on the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Three Days after Sunday (Year A)
Psalter: Psalm 77
Old Testament: 2 Kings 2:1-18
Gospel: Mark 11:20-25
Psalter: Psalm 133
Old Testament: Genesis 50:22-26
Gospel: Mark 11:20-25
Through the waters of oppression and death, Lord God, you led a people into the burning presence of your love. As you fed them in the desert, now feed us with the finest of wheat, that we may know the liberating power of the paschal feast. Amen. (Revised Common Lectionary)
In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:20-25).
In the Gospels, Jesus emphasizes the importance of both faith and belief in prayer. He’s encourages his followers to approach prayer with a sense of steadfast faith and confidence that what they are asking for will indeed be granted. Prayer is the way believers communicate with God and expressing their desires and concerns.
In Mark, Jesus highlights having faith that our prayer has already been answered. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we will immediately see the tangible results, but it’s about maintaining a strong conviction that our request has been heard and will be fulfilled in accordance with God’s will and timing. It’s important to note that the fulfillment of the request might not always align with our expectations or in the exact way we envision.
William Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas write,
...when we pray, “Your will be done,” we are not asking that things come out right as we want things to come out, but rather we are asking that God’s will be done. Too often, we are conditioned to think of prayer as asking God for what we want—dear God, give me this, give me that. But now, in praying that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we are attempting to school ourselves to want what God wants. We receive, not what our hearts desire, but rather we become so enthralled with a vision of what God is doing on earth and in heaven, that we forget the story the world has told us—that we have nothing better to do than to satisfy our desires (Lord Teach Us: The Lord's Prayer and the Christian Life, pp. 65-66).
When our desires line up with God’s heart, whatever we ask in prayer will be granted.
PRAYER: O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)
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