Mark 11:20-26; What is the key to answered prayer? Peter was astonished to discover the fig tree that Jesus spoken against had withered in only a few short hours. For him this was an extraordinary event that caught his attention and as was often the case Jesus used this moment to share a Kingdom principle. Peter and the other disciples still needed his teaching but time was running short. Jesus draws out the importance of faith in our prayers. It’s not only sufficient to make a request in prayer, it must be accompanied by faith that the one to whom we are making the request is capable of answering and giving us what we ask for. Be careful then what you ask for! Another part of a receiving what is asked for is the state of the soul of the person doing the asking. Jesus reminds Peter and all of those listening that a pure soul was also essential. God looks at the heart of the one standing in prayer, or offering the sacrifice, (Micah 6:6-8) and expects him to be without sin.
Jesus says if you have anything against anyone, forgive. Nothing more, just forgive. It is in Matthew 5:23 that he tells his disciples that if when at the altar they realize that another person has something against them then they should go to them to seek their forgiveness. So don’t go stirring the pot unnecessarily by speaking to people about how they have offended you, this you should just forgive and be done with. But if you know you have offended others then you need to seek forgiveness. It’s important to keep a pure heart and allow others to do so as well.
Prayer then is a dialogue between a person and God. Complete faith is required, anything else is restraint on prayers efficacy. But just like the father whose son was assailed by demons we can say: “Lord I believe, help me in my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24) The other aspect required for efficacy is a pure heart. Sin that rests upon the heart is another restraint that inhibits our prayers from achieving their intended purpose.