Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
In reading our Bibles, we will come across verses that seem straightforward and easy to understand immediately. On the other hand, there are also verses like this one!
“Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours,” says Jesus. We are tempted essentially to sidestep what these words say. We try to bury them under a hundred qualifications. The misapplication of such verses has scared some of us so much that we hardly give any attention to the encouragement and the challenge they contain.
In this bold command, Jesus reminded His followers to trust God, because it is actually faith’s foundation in God that gives that faith significance. We should not have faith in faith or faith in ourselves, but faith in God alone.
The metaphor that Jesus employed—that of someone commanding a mountain to be thrown into the sea—was perhaps familiar to the disciples; it was similar to a common rabbinic figure of speech for accomplishing something that was seemingly impossible. The disciples would not have misunderstood Jesus as suggesting that they literally hurl the Mount of Olives into the Dead Sea over 4,000 feet below them. They would have understood his words as a proverbial statement indicating that God wants to do extraordinary things for His children.
We discover vivid proof of Jesus’ teaching on faith and prayer throughout the book of Acts. Early on, when a lame beggar asked Peter and John for money, Peter told him instead to stand up and walk (Acts 3:6). Perhaps as he spoke to this man, Peter was remembering Jesus’ words and thinking to himself, “Whatever you ask… believe…”
When God is the object of our faith, we can have an audacious faith—a faith that believes the impossible to be possible with Him. We can know that we are speaking to someone who is able to do far more than we can even imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21). Jesus essentially says to us, I want you to pray in a way that says you actually believe in a God who is too wise to make mistakes, who is too kind to be cruel, and who is too powerful to be subdued by the normal forces of the universe.
Do not set aside these verses with a hundred qualifications. Just let them sit there for a minute. Enjoy the truth that God is able to do things beyond anything you can imagine. Rest in the reality that He knows no impossibility. And then pray.
1 Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Longmans, Green, and Co., 1898), Vol. 2, p 376 (footnote).
Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,