Faith, Prayer and Mountains

Serving the Servant King
Lessons from Mark 11:22-26

22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. 25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

Firstly, our terms need a clear definition:

Faith – William Hendricksen’s paraphrase of Heb 11 v 1 defines faith as, “being sure of what we hope for and being convinced of what we do not see”. Faith cannot exist alone – it must be in God alone!

Prayer – Ole Hallesby says that prayer is “the breath of the soul” and it too cannot exist alone – it must be to God alone.

Mountains – Look at Isaiah 40 v 1- 4 (hindrances & barriers) & Zech 4 v 6 – 7 (huge obstacles in the way) but especially at Matt 17 v 20 where Jesus calls mountains “impossibilities”!

Our approach to “mountains” as part of our daily life and experience as Christians, and in church life must be in the light of seven important points of application that come out of these verses. These are not in a “tick box” list but stand together as one body of encouraging and challenging truth. They are set out here for our help and profit.

1. We must never limit God!
Lazarus had just been raised from the dead; the fig tree had just withered up from its roots. If Jesus could do these things simply by speaking His word of life and of death, could not the mountain ahead of us be cast into the sea?! Like Job in chap 42 v 2, faith and prayer say, “I know that you can do everything…”

2. Faith & Prayer are to be part of our daily lives – they are not just there for mountains!
Jesus has already taught His disciples a great deal about both subjects but here, “mountains” are their particular focus! For these disciples, soon, the mountains of life without Christ’s physical presence would arise. We need to learn to live by daily faith & prayer (not just “emergency” faith & prayer!)

3. “We have no right to expect God to do whatever we take it into our heads to demand of Him” (J C Ryle)
To read v24 in such a literal way is to take the verse totally out of context. See No 4.

4. Faith & Prayer are joined to the Will of God.
“Prayer is given to get God’s will done on earth and not our will done in heaven.” (anon)

Job’s full statement in Job 42 v 2 is, “I know that you can do everything and that no purpose of yours can be withheld”. The connection between faith & prayer and the will of God is one of the deepest of all mysteries – but that does not mean that we do not believe it. Prayer must be, “Your will be done”.

5. Faith & Prayer are joined to the Word of God.
It is only the Word of God that tells us about God and His will, what faith is, what prayer is. It tells us that God always answers the prayer of faith – but not always just as we may want! 1 Jn 5 v 14 & 15

6. Faith & prayer are joined to the Name of Christ.
Without His intercession our prayers are imperfect. It was His assurance in v23 & v24 that was given to the disciples. His alone is the voice of authority that teaches us about prayer & presents our prayers as perfect before our Heavenly Father. Jn 14 v 13 & 14

7. Faith & Prayer are joined to forgiveness and fellowship.
Verses 25 & 26 do not introduce another subject but are part of the same. Here is the heart of the believer facing the mountain ahead – right with God and in fellowship with others - 1 Cor 13 v 2.