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February 25, 2008

Jesus’ instructions on how to move mountains with prayer

by Dave Malnes

Picture yourself walking with Jesus and the disciples on a hot, dusty road from Jerusalem to Bethany. The road takes you through the Mount of Olives with an elevation of around 2500 feet. Looking east, you can see the Dead Sea about ten miles away at an amazing 1600 feet below sea level. Jesus uses this view to show the disciples what it means to have faith in God.

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.  “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  (Mark 11:23-24)

Jesus’ words are challenging and we can easily jump to the wrong conclusion. Is Jesus telling us that if we only had strong enough faith, than we can not only move mountains, but perhaps receive a new car, a new job, better health or even better relationships. And, if I am not receiving these blessings is Jesus suggesting that I just don’t have strong enough faith?

What we receive and ask for is not dependent on the strength of our faith. It solely depends on the object of our faith. For instance, we could say that we have faith in a certain chair. We strongly believe and have the utmost confidence that if one of us sat down in this chair, it will hold us. But what if the chair is broken without either of us knowing about it?  When you go over and confidently sit down the chair collapses to the ground. What happened? Was our faith in the chair strong enough to hold a person? No, it all depended on the object of our faith—which was the broken chair. It was the chair that let us down.

For Christians, what is the object of our faith? Faith must always have an object. The object of a Christian faith is God and His promises. Jesus is telling us in these verses that there is an incredible power in that object which does not come from ourselves. It is this same miraculous power the disciples were connected to through faith. We pray with a heart that believes God can do anything he promises.

What does prayer look like that bears the fruit of faith? Jesus provides us an example. Not only do we see him praying regularly throughout Scripture, but we receive a specific example of fruit-filled prayer when Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane. We see him pray, “Not my will, Lord, but your will be done.” We don’t see him praying on behalf of his self-interest, but we see him submitting to the wisdom and the will of our heavenly father. If it is God’s will to have a mountain thrown into the sea, then He certainly has the power to answer our prayer. If I pray for the miraculous healing of a loved one, I pray with confidence for them to be healed — if it is according to God’s will.

The object of our prayer is God and His power to heal. His plan, His will and His ways are always the best. That is where we place our faith in.

The greatest example of God’s power which is more amazing than moving mountains is the fact that God has removed all our sins and thrown them into the sea. God uses this picture in Micah 7:19 by stating, “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”

Again, it’s faith we have in the object, which is God, that trusts in his promises that our sins are removed, that Jesus has done the work for us and we can come to him in prayer with a full confidence in God’s power to do whatever he wills to do. Our faith is what Jesus expects to see — the realization that we cannot come to God based on our own righteousness, but on the righteousness of God. And, this fruit of faith reveals itself when we pray with a full trust, “Thy will be done, Lord, on earth as it is in heaven.”

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