Mark 11:22-24 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 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. Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
Jesus admonition in verses 22-24 was in response to Peter’s astonishment over a withered fig tree. The dead fig tree, alive on the previous day, had died after Jesus had cursed it. Jesus cursed the tree because it was full of leaves (should have had fruit), with no fruit for Him to eat. A short time later, Jesus cursed the sham of religion Jewish Temple life had become in verses 15-17. Despite the deep theological connections and truth in the cursed fig tree and error filled Jewish religion of the day, when questioned Jesus did not deal with the implications of things consigned to die. He dealt with the living reality of faith in prayer, and its unlimited miraculous possibilities.
We need not exercise much thought to honestly conclude that most Christians in America, struggle to pray effectively. This means praying with answers that resemble the miraculous possibilities Jesus speaks of in Mark 11:22-24. In order to pray as God intends, according to Jesus instructions we must have faith—ignore doubt—and receive by believing. As simple as this pattern sounds, prayer is one of the more difficult Christian essentials. Therefore, our efforts to pray often leave us confused, frstrated and at times depressed.
“HAVE THE FAITH OF GOD”
Before we discuss the necessity of faith, in relation to prayer, it is important to look at faith from a biblical perspective, because many treat “faith” as if it is wishful thinking, or like blindly shooting an arrow hoping it gets somewhere near its target. Faith is neither of these two, but it is the very foundation of our Christian life; as well the bedrock of our prayer relationship to God.
Without faith in Christ’s finished work with all its necessary implications, salvation would be impossible (Ephesians 2:8-10), as both Old and New Testaments conclude that “the just live by faith”.
Let’s drill down a bit further into faith Looking into Hebrews 11:1, where we read “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. Simply put, we hope for God’s promises from His revealed word. Secondly, we have confidence we will see these things, even though they are not yet physically present. Faith is spiritual sight, to see the unseen reality of God’s will, while it has yet appeared in our present. In light of this, let’s take another look at verse 22, where Jesus says “Have faith in God”. In the Greek language, in which it was written, we have a more sufficient understanding, as the phrase means “Have the faith of God” or “Have God-faith”. What this means in relation to faith, is to see things as God sees them. Faith is seeing all things visible and invisible as God’s sees them.
In hearing this our collective flesh responds with “Say What?”, “How is this possible?”, “God is God and we are not!!!”. How are we to see with God’s sight, or have God’s faith? Before we panic, let’s understand having God’s faith (sight) is less difficult than we think. God gives each follower a measure of us faith (Romans 12:3).
We rejoice understanding that our faith to believe in Jesus Person and work comes from God, as He gives us faith to see the truth. This gift begins before we are saved by grace, by placing our faith in Christ, for the natural man can’t see or understand the things of God (II Corinthians 2:14). This is what John Wesley referred to as “prevenient grace”, for as we enter the kingdom through repentance and faith, we begin to learn to walk by faith (God’s sight) rather than our sight. In this the choices we learn to yield to what God sees. We train ourselves to see by His sight by feeding on His word (Romans 10:17).
The practical outlay of “have the faith of God” in our lives, leads us to choose what God reveals to us in prayer about our circumstances and His way of operating within them. Consider a mountain in our way, concerning a certain real-life need. Natural site would dicatee thoughts of, do I have a way around it, over it or through it. We may start looking for alternative routes, or if we get desperate, some form of dynamite to blow the mountain up. Sadly, if we find no way to do these above actions, and God does not get us what we think we need, we may give up and settle, or walk backwards to an easier time.
Abraham is a great example of the whole field of faith and prayer. In Genesis 15 (17 and 18 as well), God tells him he’ll have a son from his own body. This son will have descendants beyond numenric measurement, that will bless the entire world (at the time he was 75 years old). Abraham’s mountain was his wife being well beyond child-bearing age. Therefore, his wife concocts a reasonable plan, given the time and culture., Abraham will impregnate his wife’s servant Hagar. It works, but is not God’s plan for the promised son.
Therefore, God tells Abraham much later, as he is around 100 (and his wife 90), you’re still going to have a son from your own body and that of your wife. The only problem was not only was her womb dead, but so was his ability to have children. Can you say “BIG MOUNTAIN”? So, did Abraham (Romans 4:19-20; Hebrews 11:11-12). He obeyed God in obeying God and circumsizing himself and all the males of his house. This action was the seal of his covenant of faith, with God. God was faith and through the birth of isaac, by Sarah’s womb, God miraclulously moved the mountain.
To have the faith of God, for those in Christ, is magnified even more.
(Galatians 2:20) I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Here we see “by the faith of the Son of God”, which lines up with Jesus promise to make His and the Father’s home with us (John 14:15, 23). Therefore, when Jesus says, “Have the faith of God”, He is declaring, yield to the My faith in you.
In prayer, this means let Jesus open your eyes to see what He sees (in your circumstances) and ask for what He is asking for, by the Holy Spirit in you (Galatians 4:6-7). This seems simple but may be the reason for so many unanswered prayers and flattened dreams. We often are asking for things we think are needed, because we do not allow time to come into line with God’s point of view concerning direction or supernatural provision. Jesus is revealing that those who exercise God faith, must learn to exercise it in the middle of massive immovable obstacles; for nothing is impossible with God and He specialized in what is beyond human comprehension.
“whoever says to this mountain ‘Be removed and cast into the sea”, and does not doubt in his heart…’, ‘it will be done’. Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
Next time we will dig into the root of doubt and the complimentary nature of “Have the faith of God”, as we “believe” in order to “receive”. Until that time, practice looking at your life and circumstances with the faith of God.