Do Mountains Move?
Since mountains don’t move unless some external force is exerted upon them, Jesus’ teaching about moving mountains is puzzling: “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:22-25)
Moving our insurmountable obstacles also requires an external influence, something or someone with greater knowledge and power than we have. Jesus said that kind of power comes from God. “ Have faith in God.” Does trusting in God’s goodness and power actually makes a difference in altering impossible situations? The Psalmist believed that was so: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. (Psalm 37:4-6)
That Psalm sheds light on how the power of faith works. “Delight yourself in the Lord, Commit your ways to the Lord ”are words and phrases which imply that belief involves a sincere, trusting , confident, enjoyable, and committed relationship with someone powerful enough to not only make something good from our desires but to make our desires good. The Psalm identifies that Someone as our heavenly Father and emphatically impresses upon us that God will act to bring righteousness and justice to our situations.
Many of our prayers are laser focused on ourselves and not the broader picture of God’s purposes, but there are proper attitudes and motivations in which our requests are to be couched. We may ask naively and incorrectly. James, the brother of Jesus, tells us that we do not have “because we ask not” but also because we ask “amiss” which the Apostle John says is pursuing our will and not considering God’s. Also, we may be improperly prepared for prayer. Jeremiah lamented: “We have transgressed and rebelled… you have wrapped yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through.” Scripture clearly indicates arrogant and unrepentant hearts do not get through to God.
Jesus helps clarify these thoughts: “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13)( Matthew 21:22) When we ask as Jesus would, when we ask in the spirit of submission to God’s authority, we are seeking God’s good will for us in ways which honor Him, and we won’t be asking “amiss.” Living out faith is not about getting what we want but is about learning how to be the person God desires us to be in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. So biblical prayers will seek for God-empowered knowledge, wisdom and understanding, strength, patience, endurance and joy with the expectation for receiving what is good and right. (Colossians 1:9-13)
Depending on our need or perceived need, our prayers may be all over the map: confession and repentance, lamentations and imploring, praise and gratitude, and intercessions and supplications. As we pray, we will truly receive our hearts’ desires: redemption and forgiveness, comfort and relief, and assurance and hope. Prayer taps into, delights in, and expresses gratitude for the many good things that God provides.
After his nephew died in an auto accident which also caused serious injury to this boy’s three siblings, Don Moen wrote this song: “God will make a way/ Where there seems to be no way/ He works in ways we cannot see/ He will make a way for me // He will be my guide/Hold me closely to His side/ With love and strength for each new day/ He will make a way, He will make a way // By a roadway in the wilderness, He’ll lead me/ And rivers in the desert will I see/ Heaven and Earth will fade but His word will still remain/ And He will do something new today.”
Prayer invites God into our dreams and desires and needs and hurts, and He will bring what is right and just to us. While belief opens us to God’s salvation and sovereignty, prayer unleashes God’s good and sovereign will. Communion with God in prayer and knowledge of His Word are key to power. They align and realign our desires and attitudes and actions. With spiritual change, perspectives change; attitudes transform; obstacles diminish; perceived needs vanish; miracles happen; paths open; and