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.
Mark 11:22-24 reveals three critical elements in our walk of faith, concerning prayer. The first we discussed in my last post: that of having the faith of God. Simply put, this means we think, are moved and act, according to what God sees and declares through His word, rather than what we see with our eyes. For the Christian, this not a theological principal as much as a practical necessity, encountered as we live are led by the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:14; Galatians 2:20).
To have faith is to see our world and circumstances, from God’s point of view. Without His perspective, which is to “walk by faith and not by sight”, it is impossible to please God or receive anything from Him (Hebrews 11:6). If you have not read the first post in this series, please click the link below for further discussion on having “God’s faith”.
Not only is faith an essential characteristic in our relationship to God in prayer, so is refusing doubt.
HAVE GOD’S FAITH, BUT DO NOT DOUBT
In our physical life there are many things which can become debilitating to a person. This simply means to cause them such weakness that they cannot function as normal; to a certain degree their life becomes limited by the onset of some affliction. To the person of faith, doubt is dangerously debilitating. The reason doubt is so dangerous is that it is not unbelief, which by definition is to profess “I believe” while walking contrary to that profession. To understand unbelief better, prayerfully meditate on Hebrews 3:6 through Hebrews 4:7.
Unbelief is a terrible condition to remain in, yet doubt is more debilitating to the person who desires to walk in faith with Christ, because it takes no position at all, but rather tortures the individual into paralysis, rendering them unable to walk in faith or unbelief. Consider Jesus’ words following “have God’s faith”. In verse 23 Jesus declares “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”
The word doubt is a prevalent and powerful challenge to our faith, as it means “to judge between the two”, in the Greek language of the New Testament. Further this means judging or choosing between God’s will (As his word declares and He sees) or the natural impossibility which appears to hinder God’s will. This is a practical and heated battle. God’s will presents itself in a supernatural breakthrough, deliverance or provision from God’s treasury of love; guaranteed by the promises of His word. Doubt, on the other hand presents itself in rational questions such as, “what if it does not come to pass”, or “these are the reasons it can not happen”, or “What if God has it in for me”, or “the obstacles are so massive”.
It is a battle, worthy of what Paul wrote in Galatians, where under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he penned, “walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh, for the flesh wars against the Spirit and the Spirit wars against the flesh; and these two are contrary to one another, so that you do not do what you want to do” (Galatians 5:16-17).
Therefore, not only can doubt paralyze us into in-action, it also creates a growing insensitivity to our yielding to God’s faith by the Spirit, the longer we allow it to influence us. In this wavering, it feels as we are on the sea, one moment solidly trusting God, the next feeling as though head over-heels in a riptide (James 1:5-8). The reason doubt is so effective in debilitating us, is that it comes from rational though arising from what we see and being interpreted by what we have previously experienced. The problem is this “stink ‘in think ‘in”, specifically excludes what God has done to re-write our experience filter.
Therefore, doubt, which is tied to our natural cynicism, is often closer to our heart than we care to admit. The only way to have power in prayer, as well as in the practical and supernatural manner of our faith, is to “DENY’ ourselves our normal, rational and intellectual patterns of thought, in regard to being automatic. This must be done as a matter of regular practice, when we are not even walking through circumstances that appear as mountains of hindrance (Romans 12:2). Consider God’s practical instruction for Proverbs 3:5-7…
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes…”
In order to overcome the festering nature of doubt, we must deny it when the going gets toughest, rather than wallow in wimpy, whiny, “pity party” behavior. In the moments or seasons (doubt can be heavy tool of temptation from the enemy of our souls); we must cling to faith (God’s sight), deny doubt, and also “believe”. Though it may seem a distinction without a difference between “faith” and “believe”, there is both a complimentary relationship, as well as a distinct difference.
FAITH’s GOAL COMPLETED W/ “BELIEVE”
(Mark 11:24) Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
Now “faith” is to see things as God sees them. The word “believe” means to walk by what God sees. Faith is orientated in understanding God’s truth (what He sees) and affirming it with profession, the word “believe” means to take actions according to the faith of God in us. Further, “faith” is hearing and confirming it’s your truth, where “believe” declares, “because it’s my truth, I will walk toward the end of receiving it”. This means we refuse to give into doubt, and believe no matter how long the delay.
To “believe” is where we rely on what God says as the only possible solution, hold to it regardless, preparing for the time it is fulfilled. Having the faith of God in prayer takes both “faith” and “believe”, which should be no surprise (James 1:22). Perhaps an example is in order. Consider the life and manner of ministry of George Müller.
George Müller was a prolific evangelist and preached at Bethesda Chapel, in Bristol England, from 1832 until his death of 1898. In 1836, Müller and his wife began ministry to orphans, by bringing 30 orphaned girls into his home. Until His death, they opened five more orphan houses and took care of up to 2000 children a year; a total of over 10,000 in his life time. One might think that with such a financial burden, Müller’s evangelism efforts would have suffered, him needing to spend significant time in fundraising, yet that was never the case! Our brother never once asked for aid, took an offering, or sought to secure a stream of income from anyone. Yet the orphans never went hungry or naked or without shelter, in fact no orphans were better cared for. Consider the impossibility of this provision.
The total cost for all the orphans needs in 1870 was £100,000 British pounds. When calculating this expense, according to today’s economics, the amount equals £11,000,000 British pounds or $16,000,000 U.S dollars. To George Müller this amount was not a mountain but a promise from God. He believed that where God had called, God would provide, even if the amount is the size of Mt. Everest. He had God faith and refused to work, beg, or borrow to provide for what he believed God had ordained He minister. He trusted “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). He believed God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
Müller and his team taught the orphan’s to trust God’s mercy and faithfulness, through teaching them to see situations as God sees them (God faith)—refuse doubt no matter how pressing or impossible the mountain—and by teaching them to believe by staying on their knees until God gave what was promised. How wonderful!!!
To even suggest we consider George Müller’s pattern in our day, which is the pattern of Mark 11:22-24, can bring the wrath of the American Christian world upon the speaker. Today we get serious about prayer after we attempt fundraising through newsletters, golf-outings, bake sales, coupon book pushing, bizarre’s, craft shows, arm twisting, badgering, pleading, and appealing through guilt. If we gain our goal, it must have been “God’s will” and if we don’t it must mean people are stingy. Sadly it reveals how far from the truth we have grown. It is quite sad how little we trust our Father to whom “nothing is too difficult” (Jeremiah 32:27).
Let us remember that Jesus’ words in our passage, where spoken in front of the Mt. of Olives, a literal mountain. Jesus was not speaking allegorically, but practically and miraculously. Our lives ought to have the fragrance of the miraculous, rather than stale air of human rationality and ingenuity. We don’t need better solutions, but more submission to “God faith”. We do not need rabbit trails around our mountains, but to walk right up to them believing they’ll move when we declare “Mountain, get out of my way”. In that moment we will understand, God’s power did the impossible, as we partnered with Him in belief.
Are we yielding to doubt or are we walking in belief, expecting to receive from God and holding on until we do? May we all learn to move mountains with God’s faith in us!!!