Thoughts for the Day

Friday, 31st May 2024: Prayer and belief

Faith Prayer Trust Mark 11 Belief

Reading : Verses from Mark, Chapter 11

Fig leaves

Then Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard it.....

The next 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.

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


Well we have a whole mess of problems with the incident of the 'blasted fig tree'. This only occurs in Mark's Gospel, although there is a parable that is different in Luke's Gospel (Luke 13.6-9). So what's the difficulty about this story? Well, when we see Jesus needing to eat or drink elsewhere, we have seen others sit down to eat a meal with him, but we have never seen him act in such a way as this before. Apart from anything this occurs, according to Mark, at Passover time when the leaves of the fig tree would be coming out, but there would certainly be no fruit. Nowhere in the gospels have we seen Jesus act in such a self-indulgent way, after all it was hardly the tree's fault! Neither has he used his power like this before, always his power is used for the good of others.

So is this an 'acted parable' as we have seen when he welcomed the children, or is this a mistake attributed to the author of the Gospel writing many years later? Possible it's the latter. But let's see what we can make of it, as an acted parable. Linked to this event are two comments on prayer:

  • Have faith in your prayer - mountains can be moved (or fig trees blasted)
  • Believe that what we ask for in prayer will happen!

If Jesus wanted to show his disciples about having faith in their prayer, then removing a fig tree would be a good visual example of what their prayer might achieve, whether or not Mark has placed the incident in the wrong season, or not.

But there is a caveat! Faith can move fig trees or mountains, but each time we pray to God we should say "Your will be done!" After all He may have a different idea. Having said that, we should always have complete faith that God can, and does, make things happen when we pray in faith. Nothing is too difficult for Him.


Lord Jesus Christ,
give us the faith to move mountains,
and give us the wisdom to ask
for the right mountains.
May we be just as content to
to move small bumps
on our road,
knowing that we do Your will.

Follow Up Thoughts

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