March to Easter // Day 35

“Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.”  Mark 11:22,23 (NLT)

The intensity began to ratchet up Tuesday and Wednesday in Jesus final week before Easter as He spends His last days teaching in the Temple and confronting the religious leaders who would plot against Him. Mark picks up the story on Tuesday morning as the disciples passed the fig tree Jesus had cursed and noticed that it had withered and died.

“The next morning as they passed by the fig tree He had cursed, the disciples noticed it had withered from the roots up. Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the previous day and exclaimed, ‘Look, Rabbi! The fig tree You cursed has withered and died!’” (Mark 11:20-21, NLT).

Jesus used their curiosity as a teachable moment to demonstrate the power of prayer and faith in their lives.

“Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.’” (Mark 11:22-25, NLT).

With only days remaining before His death, Jesus wanted His disciples to understand the potential of faith and the power of prayer, mountain moving prayer! He was not offering some magical formula for moving mountains or a blank check for getting whatever they wanted. He was making a strong statement about the disciples and our lack of faith. What kind of prayer moves mountains? Jesus took what seemed impossible to the disciples to show that God can do the impossible. The kind of prayer that moves mountains is prayer for the fruitfulness of God’s Kingdom. Notice the conditions for mountain moving prayer that Jesus gives us.

First, He says, “You must really believe…” (verse 23). If I’m going to pray with effectiveness I must be a believer. I must have a relationship with the object of my faith, Jesus, who alone can produce the results. God answer prayers, but not as a result of some positive mental attitude; but because we have put our trust in Him.

Second, “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against…” (verse 25). Jesus says that we must not be holding a grudge against another person if we are to be effective in prayer. God’s power is diminished in our lives when we do. We quench the flow of His Spirit to work through us in answer to our prayer. Purity and power work together. Peter must have learned this in his own marriage when he wrote 1 Peter 3:7 “In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.” Holding a grudge, mistreating others, not only hurts them but hinders our prayer life. Power in prayer to move mountains comes from a pure heart.

Finally, when Jesus told them “you can pray for anything…” He was encouraging them to hold nothing back. James, His half brother would later write, “You do not have, because you do not ask God….” (James 4:2b, NIV). How often is this the case in our lives? We fail to ask? Why? Do we think God may be too busy? Does He not care about everything in our lives? Or does our own pride get in the way and cause us to think we can do it on our own. We can move the mountain ourselves. It’s amazing to think that God has invited you and me to ask for anything! You can pray for anything! Later in Mark 14:36 Jesus prayed, “Everything is possible for you… yet I want Your will to be done, not mine.” Our prayers are often motivated by our own interests and desires. We like to hear that we can have anything if we only believe. But Jesus prayed with God’s interests in mind. When we pray, we can express our desires and that’s ok. But we must pray that our will align with His if the mountains are going to move. We must want His will above our own.

What kind of mountains do you face? Has your faith been weakened by them? Commit them to God. Pray with faith in Him, not faith in the object of your request. As we align our heart with God through prayer we will see the mountains move.

Personal Challenge

1. What are the mountains you are facing in your life today? Spend some time in prayer committing them to God one by one. Ask God to align your heart with His.

2. Ask God to examine your heart. Are you holding a grudge against someone? How are the relationships in your life? Who do you need to forgive so that your prayers will be more effective? Chose to forgive them now in prayer and see what God does.