The Power of Our Thoughts

I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” Mark 11:24

The stories in the bible are sacred and powerful – not to fill our minds with information but to transform our deceitful hearts. Hence we need to “bookend” our bible study with prayer. What we read and understand with our minds is determined by what we believe in our hearts.  It is so important to study and meditate on the bible – not to know about God – but to listen to what God wants to tell us about what we are to do with our lives. The stories of Jesus in the Gospels are to teach us spiritual truths and spiritual laws for us to live by. So to discover them, we need to pray:

“Lord, open my mind to Your Word and open Your Word to my heart.”

Reflecting on the thoughts my small group had shared in our study of Chapter 11 of the Gospel of Mark, I discovered four spiritual truths. Firstly, Jesus came to deliver us from our spiritual slavery to sin and change us into a people of prayer. But the Jews were hoping for liberation from the political and military oppression of the Romans. They welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as their military and political leader shouting:

“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is our ancestor David’s kingdom that is coming! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Mark 11:9-‬10 GW

Jesus came, riding on a donkey, to be a powerless, suffering Servant King and not a powerful, victorious and demanding king. But his anger was aroused by the commercialization of the religious activities when he went to the Temple. He exercised his spiritual authority, driving the money changers and the people who were buying and selling animals for sacrifices out of the Temple. He reminded them:

“Scripture says, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a gathering place for thieves.” Mark 11:17 GW

Jesus died on the cross to reveal the power of God’s agape love to overcome evil. Jesus rose from the dead to transform our human lives into the living stones of God’s spiritual temple and ordain us to be a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:4-5). To be a follower of Christ is to be the temple of the living God (2 Cor 6:16) as well as to be the living sacrifices each day to transform our minds so that we can know God’s perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

Secondly, Jesus demonstrated the power of our thoughts and prayer. Jesus was hungry when he was on the way back to Jerusalem. He saw a fig tree with leaves but could not find any figs and said to the fig tree: “May no one ever eat your fruit again.” When they were leaving Jerusalem the next day, the disciples found that the fig tree had withered from the roots up and Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the fig tree. It was a grim reminder of the power of words to cause death as well as healing. The barren fig tree provided Jesus with the opportunity to teach his disciples of the power of our thoughts and prayer:

“Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.  I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” Mark 11:22-‬23 NLT

It is a spiritual law that we will receive whatever we pray for with faith. We can pray for anything but not everything is good for our souls. The effect of the words of Jesus on the fig tree teaches us of the power of our words. With great power comes great responsibility and hence we need to follow the example of Jesus in the wilderness and in the Garden of Gethsemane. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he did not confront the devil as God. He confronted the devil as a man with the Word of God. When he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus did not resist and told his disciple to put his sword away:

“Don’t you think that I could call on my Father to send more than twelve legions of angels to help me now?” (Matthew 26:53 NLT)

Thirdly, the hunger and anger of Jesus is a demonstration of his humanity – to show us how to live with sin but not in sin. The theology of the cross teaches us that we can find strength in our human vulnerability. Vulnerability is not weakness. Through the cross of Christ, the stories of those who are betrayed, rejected, weak, lonely, sick, dying and afraid become parts of God’s love story. Jesus died on the cross not to appease an angry god but to transform our suffering in this world:

“Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.” Hebrews 2:14-‬18 NLT

Fourthly, we need to experience the joy of being forgiven in order to forgive. We are unable to forgive without the grace of God. Following Jesus is not trying to become a super saint or a perfect human being – it is living out the prayer of Jesus on the cross by the grace of God:

“Father, forgive them. They don’t know not what they’re doing.” (Luke23:34 GW)

The discipline of meditation is to help us to be more conscious of our thoughts and feelings so that we can be more forgiving. Discipleship is the exciting journey of discovering  the wonder of growing up as a child of God and to be fully human and fully divine. Our lives are all stories in the end and the most important question is whether they are a part of God’s love story or just a human story of futility, comedy or tragedy. 


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