When I resigned my job for Bible College, I faced a faith challenge: daily food! As long as my monthly salary arrived there was no real need to trust for the next meal. But that changed; asking for “daily bread” became normal. Then, after my first semester of college, a new tuition bill came looking for me, and faith had to reach for a bigger bread loaf! The journey of amazing provisions (mixed with days of forced fasting) strengthened my trust in the Father’s care; I was comfortable with asking for my daily needs. However, if someone had suggested I should also ask for breakthrough in a resistant Middle East nation or for an end to global, human trafficking…. no, that was a reach too far for my faith. Sure, I could string together a prayer, but it would just be words without confidence that something was going to happen in response to my asking. Why? I felt my faith was too small for major asking. Surely big answers call for super faith? It took a while for me to see my problem.
One day a dad brought his son to Jesus. The boy was demonized and Jesus’ disciples had not been able to help him. Jesus drove the demon out and the boy was immediately healed Matt 17:14-20. Away from the spotlight, the disciples wanted to know why they were unable to do what he did. We can’t be sure of which word Jesus used in his reply: did he say “because you have so little faith” (NIV), or “because of your unbelief” (NKJV)? Either way, the problem was a faith deficit. But it wasn’t about small or large faith. Jesus explained his point with an image: a tiny mustard seed. He announced that mustard seed faith can shift a mountain. Wow! I carry a mustard seed, taped to a card in my wallet, as a reminder of its littleness. Honestly, if Jesus had promised that mustard seed faith could change mustard seed sized problems, and that mountain sized faith could meet mountain sized needs, I could grasp that more easily. But he put the tiny seed next to the huge mountain and announced that the little can shift the large.
Here’s the crucial bit: it is not the size of the faith that makes the difference, but how it is used. The small seed loses its littleness when our praying plants it into the desire of God. The size of our faith need not match the size of the obstacle, need or crisis – and often we will be aware of how small and fragile our faith seems compared to the giant thing we are asking for – but it must be buried in God’s desire to do the thing we are asking.
It’s not our faith that shifts mountains; God does. What he wants from us is to pray into his desire to do the shifting. We do that with a close-up view of who he is and what he is capable of (his Glory). As long as our praying is fixed on HIS size, the mountain (whatever it is, however impossible it seems) becomes small and shift-able.
Extend your asking. Choose a resistant nation in the Arabian Gulf, an unreached people in Asia, a conflict zone in the Middle East, or some other people-in-crisis where only the Lord can make a difference. What has he said about his desire for them? His desires are usually framed in scriptures about his purpose, promises and will. The resistance to breakthrough in harvest and healing might seem mountain-like, but brought into the shadow of our “great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” Tit 2:13, it is moveable! Keep planting your mustard seed of faith into the desires that the Lord has for them. By voicing our agreement with his desires we have confidence that answers are happening 1 John 5:14. And so we boast, not of our great faith but in the size of the One who hears us and answers!
Prayer growth resource: click here to order your copy of Shaped for Prayer Enjoyment