July 2013

Faith [Prayer] That Can Move Mountains

Unlike the gospel of John, the other three gospels are synoptic.  The synoptic Scriptures are devoted primarily to sharing the same majestic accounts of the life and ministry of Christ from the three personal views of the Spirit inspired gospel writers.

All three of the synoptic writers provide us with profound accounts of the father who came to Jesus complaining that the disciples could not cast out the cruel demon from his son.  We will focus on the accounts of Matthew and Mark

The context of Matthew 17:14-21 and Mark 9:14-29 is one of extreme contrast.  Peter, James, and John had been chosen to join Christ on the “mount of transfiguration”.  When they came down from the mount filled with confident joy given the splendor of this encounter with the Father and the reality of Christ’s transfigured majesty, they are greeted with stark unbelief. 

The remaining nine disciples had tried to cast out the demon.  But they were unable to do so.  They failed miserably even though previously they had cast out many demons.  These disciples had been commissioned and empowered recently by Christ for this very thing.  Complicating things, not only was the father grieved at the disciples’ inability, but the religious leaders of Israel capitalized on this opportunity to ridicule Jesus’ disciples in front of the crowd.  The nine must have been greatly discouraged! 

Upon His arrival, Christ quickly asks why an argument was ongoing between His own disciples and Israel’s religious rulers.  When the father gives his sad report that the disciples were unable to remove the demon from the son, whose condition was indeed awful, Christ takes control.  The father states that he believes Jesus can heal his son, but humbly asks Jesus to strengthen his own unbelief.  Jesus responds by powerfully casting out this malicious demon, and releasing the son from a lifetime of cruel anguish. 

Of course the nine are bewildered.  Once alone with Jesus, they quickly ask Him why they could not cast out the demon.  In Jesus’ response, we see one of the amazing dynamics of synoptic accounts.  Matthew states that it is because the faith of the nine was too small.  But Mark records it was because the nine did not rely on prayer. 

In Matthew, our Lord then gives them a lesson to build up their little faith – the parable of the mustard seed.  Even though it is so very small, the mustard seed gradually grows into a bush so large that it is “tree-like”.  So is “mountain moving faith”!  It may start small, but this faith increases.  It becomes big and powerful. 

“Mountain moving” was a metaphor for overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  Such was the barrier for the disciples.  Only divine omnipotence could cast out a supernatural power of darkness.  By God’s grace, our faith can grow so huge that we are able to watch God remove those “mountains” in our life.  These are the “mountains” hindering His will for us individually and as a Church family. 

On the other hand, Mark gives a different account.  He records another aspect of Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ question.  They were not able to remove the demon, Mark states, because of their lack of prayer.  The disciples relied on their past success.  They had been able to remove demons. Of course, they were able to do so only because of God’s omnipotence.  In self-reliance, the nine dared to enter spiritual warfare without pleading with God to unleash the same power they experienced previously.  Only God can cast out a supernatural demon! 

So what is the point?  “Mountain” moving faith and prayer are essentially the same thing.  They go hand-in-hand.  The two cannot be separated.  The power of prayer is faith.  The dynamic of faith is prayer.  A person’s faith is measured by his reliance on God demonstrated in the quality of His intercession.

A believer’s power in prayer is dependent upon his faith in God’s power to accomplish what He alone can do. 

Application for our Church family:

1.  Confess unbelief, and ask God to grow your faith/prayer [Mk 9:23-24].

2.  In your prayer requests, aim for that which God alone can accomplish.

3.  Focus on the direction for CCSYV – [this is the “year of the Great Commission”].

4.  Rivet your sights on the lost around you.

5.  Ask God to increase your opportunities to care for them and to share the gospel.

  6.  Identify the “mountain-like” obstacles barring their salvation. 

  7.  Trust in God’s power to move these “mountains”. 

  8.  Whenever you talk to them, perceive the “mountain” and God’s greater power. 

  9.  Share the gospel as God leads, with “mountain-moving” faith fueled by prayer. 
     This is what is needed to unleash the only power that saves the soul - God’s power.


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Community Church of the Santa Ynez Valley
240 E. Highway 246
Buellton, CA 93427