Mark 11:22-24 MEV) – Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. For truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you will receive them, and you will have them.
In this passage, Jesus gives His disciples the secret to the kind of faith that moves mountains. Nothing would be impossible for anyone who possesses such kind of faith (Matthew 17:20 – MEV). This is the stuff that dreams are made of. I must add a caveat here before we get ahead of ourselves. God will only answer prayers that are within His will. Granted, sometimes our desires might not be in line with His will, but I wonder how many of our legitimate prayers have gone unanswered because of our lack of faith. If we had faith, I am certain that the results would be vastly different. Many more of our prayers would have been answered.
The withering of the fig tree after Jesus had cursed it a day before must have stunned His disciples. Jesus used this teachable moment to give His disciples a precious lesson on faith. Jesus gave them two criteria for developing the kind of faith that moved mountains.
First, faith must be rooted in God alone.
Jesus said, “Have faith in God.” This is simple to understand but it not easy to practise. We direct our prayers to God but so often we place our confidence in ourselves and in our circumstances instead of God. We do not realise that this is the case until the circumstances begin to change and dark clouds gather on the horizon. Suddenly, we lose confidence and our faith level plunges. This happens because our faith was misplaced in the first place.
When a person’s faith is anchored in God, he has the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1 – MEV). The circumstances are irrelevant. He is confident that God, who is both able and trustworthy, will fulfil His promise despite changes in the circumstances.
It follows that mountain-moving faith is faith that focuses on God and not our circumstances. It is so easy to do the opposite like in the case of the apostle, Peter. Peter was walking on water when he kept his eyes steadfastly fixed on Jesus. As soon as he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the howling wind and choppy waves, fear gripped him and his faith in Jesus took a plunge. As a result, he started to sink.
Second, do not doubt but believe.
Belief is a powerful word in the bible. It is the operating word for faith. Belief opens the door to God’s grace and favour. Belief accesses God’s power. Belief is the necessary condition for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Abraham believed, and it was credited to him as righteousness. The Israelites believed, and the walls of Jericho collapsed. Mary believed, and she conceived the Son of God.
On the other hand, unbelief is destructive. God put the ten spies to death for their unbelief. Israel wandered in the desert wilderness for forty years because of their unbelief. Zechariah was struck dumb because of unbelief. The apostle, James, warns that God would not answer the prayer of those who doubt (James 1:6-8 – MEV).
David took on Goliath and defeated him. It was not his size that matters. Neither was it his armour nor weapons. He had only a sling and five stones. Instead, it was his childlike faith that gave him victory over the giant. Faith was his lethal weapon. The army of Israel was quaking in fear of Goliath, but David believed that God would deliver Goliath into his hands (1 Samuel 17:45-47 – MEV).
Do we take the story of David and Goliath seriously? We love the story, but I suspect that only the Sunday school children believe in its veracity. Even if we believe that it is true, we do not really believe that the same thing can happen to us. But we must believe.
What did Jesus say? Do not doubt but believe that what you say will come to pass. In other words, believe in your heart and proclaim with your mouth, and the desires of your heart will come to pass. Then, He goes on to say that this must also be the posture when we pray – ‘whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you will receive them, and you will have them.’ What an amazing revelation of the power of faith in God!
Pastors Les & Adeline Chua