July 8 | Bible in a Year: Job 36–37; Acts 15:22–41
When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
READ Mark 11:20–25
LISTEN ONLINEFor fourteen years, the Mars rover Opportunity faithfully communicated with the people at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. After it landed in 2004, it traversed twenty-eight miles of the Martian surface, took thousands of images, and analyzed many materials. But in 2018, communication between Opportunity and scientists ended when a major dust storm coated its solar panels, causing the rover to lose power.
Is it possible that we can allow “dust” to block our communication with Someone outside of our world? When it comes to prayer—communicating with God—there are certain things that can get in the way.
Scripture says that sin can block our relationship with God. “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18). Jesus instructs, “When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25). Our communication with God can also be hindered by doubt and relationship problems (James 1:5–7; 1 Peter 3:7).
Opportunity’s blockage of communication seems to be permanent. But our prayers don’t have to be blocked. By the work of the Holy Spirit, God lovingly draws us to restored communication with Him. As we confess our sins and turn to Him, by God’s grace we experience the greatest communication the universe has ever known: one-to-one prayer between us and our holy God.
By Dave Branon
REFLECT & PRAY
How can confessing your sins to God improve your communication with Him? What can you do to enrich your prayer life?
Father, guide me to discover what's limiting my communication with You. Thank You for helping me connect with You!
In Mark’s gospel, Mark uses a literary device called an inclusio so often that it’s sometimes called a “Markan sandwich.” In this literary structure, a story or teaching (A) is interrupted with another (B) before returning to conclude the first story (A). Using this literary technique creates “bookends” before and after a story. This structure helps the reader understand that both stories are connected in significance and meaning. In Mark 11, the story of the cleansing of the temple (vv. 15–19) is bookended before and after with the story of the cursing of the fig tree (vv. 12–14, 20–25). By connecting these two stories, Mark makes it clear that Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree was done as a prophetic sign of the consequences of the corruption and lack of fruit that He saw in Israel’s worship at the time.
Monica La Rose