~ Guest Post by Brad Adcock ~
Prayer Text for Today is Mark 11:20-25
“And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.” Mark 11:22 (ESV)
I find it ironic that the disciples of Jesus – men who have and will see Him heal the sick, make the lame to walk again, give sight to the blind, feed thousands with table scraps and raise the dead – are stopped in their tracks with wonder that He could cause a tree to wither by cursing it. So much so that the Son of God has to stop and give them a lesson in having faith.
“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. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:23-25 (ESV)
I hope you’re not looking to this to be some great theological breakdown of each phrase, and each word. I’m not going to parse through the Greek here (mainly because I took Hebrew, not Greek, to fulfill my Bible degree). I try so very hard to stay out of that realm, because even as a minister for almost seven years, I didn’t think it was a place where I belonged. But what I will do is look at this passage and how it affects me in my life, right now, as I sit here and think about the mountain in my life that I’m dealing with – and maybe that will help you as you look at the mountain in your life that you’re dealing with, and that Jesus is telling you and I both that, one way or another, we can move.
To my mind, there is quite a leap that takes place here – a leap from the boggled minds of the disciples at the withered tree, to the logic of Jesus and the moved mountains. They are shocked by this small miracle, and Jesus is ready to take them to greater heights than these, to farther limits than they are seemingly ready for (though it was a ‘limit’ they had already witnessed). Here are twelve individuals who are stopped in their tracks in amazement at the brown, shriveled leaves of a tree – a feat that, while a miracle, is something that they have witnessed before, albeit now completely out of season – while Jesus tells them they can simply pray and accomplish something none of them (and I would daresay none of us) have ever seen: an entire mountain being picked up and tossed into the sea!
If Jesus is to be believed here, then each of us has a greater power within our grasp than any of us have ever believed possible. I would also venture to say that none who call on the name of Jesus as Savior and King have ever literally made use of this power (I know of no evidence in recorded history of a mountain actually lifting up from its foundations and flying into a nearby ocean because someone prayed it to be so)…and yet, we have.
The heart of what Jesus is saying to His disciples is an attack on the incorrect premise their wonder at the withered tree assumes – that what they have seen Jesus the Christ accomplish is not something they can believe or ever hope to achieve for themselves. This “impossible feat” is too much for them, and yet Jesus asserts that the small thing they wonder at doesn’t even scratch the surface of what they can accomplish with a simple faith in God’s power to answer their prayers.
Oh, how I long for a faith like that! My heart yearns for it deeply, in a life blessed beyond measure by the gifts of God, to reach out for those things seemingly denied to me and my family. I want to possess with every fiber of my being that warm and comforting child-like faith that believes that anything is possible – even moving the greatest of life’s mountains. I want to cry out to Christ, like the father at his wit’s end of what he can do for his hurting child in Mark 9:24 – “I believe; help my unbelief!”
But somewhere along the way, that child-like faith eluded me, and I let it slip away without so much as a whimper – another casualty of the callous cruelness of this unforgiving crucible we call life. And now, in the moments when my heart cries out in pain for the assurance my faith in God is supposed to always afford, I want it back. It’s mine, after all – Christ died to give it to me. It’s supposed to be my comfort when life presents me with mountains I don’t see any way to move. But here I am again, unable to tear my eyes away from this big, lifeless rock – this uncaring, unfeeling boulder of life’s distress that we all have to deal with at some point in our existence – and here mine is, and it won’t go away when I ignore it. It looks down at me with contempt (does it really, or do I just imagine that?) and it mockingly dares me to say something, to do something about it – anything.
I don’t know what your mountain is. It might be drugs, or alcohol, or pornography, or infertility, or anger, or any of a hundred thousand other things. But I know what mine is right now, ours actually – my wife and me. The mountain we’re dealing with that makes her put on a happy face for everybody else as she deals with an issue they have no idea about – and yet causes her to cry (along with me) in the silence and solitude of our home. The mountain we’re dealing with that makes me question what it is I’m doing wrong, what I could do differently – just as I know she does the same of herself. The mountain that, month after month, stares back at us and mocks us.
We know we are blessed – blessed beyond measure! And if those blessings are all we receive from now until our Lord returns, we would have no cause for complaint. And yet, even as we sit and mourn with others here at the foot of our mountain, our hearts desire just a little more – to see this rock shake, the dirt and dust to be shaken as it rises up ever so slightly or slowly and splashes down into the waiting waves of the nearest ocean we can find. And until that day, this is our earnest prayer…
“Father, we praise you as our God, our Provider, our Sustainer. You have blessed our family beyond anything we ever could have hoped or imagined, and we are so thankful for your hand in our lives. Our faith in who you are and what you have and continue to do for us is unwavering, Lord. But sometimes, Father, we don’t understand why. Sometimes, we see the mountains before us and we take our eyes off you. Sometimes, we see those who don’t have to worry about this particular mountain and even though we’re happy for them, it hurts, and we – even unconsciously – might hold it against them, through no fault of their own. Father, help us to overcome this pettiness and forgive us. Help us to have the faith to wait upon you and your timing. Help us to have the faith to trust you to move this mountain from our lives, to wait for each shovel full of this mountain to be tossed into the sea.”
Brad Adcock is Senior Draftsman at Arthur L. Cook, A.I.A. He has a degree in Bible from Magnolia Bible College and has served as both full time and interim minister. He is a member of the South Huntington Church of Christ in Kosciusko, MS where he frequently teaches Bible classes. He and his wife Laura have a son named Nathan. I appreciate this expression of longing for more faith and identify with it entirely.