Praying in Faith
‘I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’ (Matthew 17:20)
As we get older, most of us discover that muscles that were once firm begin to weaken; and before we know it, the person in the mirror just isn’t us. Something happened to the muscles along the way! And that’s what can happen to our ‘faith muscles’ too. The trouble is, the longer we are a Christian, the easier it is to stop exercising those muscles and to become lazy or even presumptuous. But we won’t see our prayers answered unless our faith remains functioning, as the disciples discovered.
When Jesus came down the mountain after the transfiguration, he discovered that the disciples had experienced an embarrassing failure: a man had brought his demonized son to them, ‘but they could not heal him’ (Matthew 17:16). Jesus rebuked them for their failure and then healed the boy instantly. When they asked why it hadn’t worked for them, Jesus replied, ‘Because you have so little faith’, and then added the words of our opening verse.
What can we learn from this? First, that past authority is no substitute for present faith. Jesus had already given them ‘authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness’ (Matthew 10:1), but they hadn’t taken hold of that right now when it was needed. Second, that past experience is no substitute for present faith. Having been given Jesus’ authority, they had gone out and used it, ‘preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere’ (Luke 9:6). They returned excitedly saying, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name’ (Luke 10:17). So, what had gone wrong? It seems they had become presumptuous because of their very success, and so had ended up not exercising faith.
Remember: we never get beyond the stage where we have to exercise our ‘faith muscles’ daily. Don’t rely on past authority or past experience; exercise those faith muscles today! For with faith, anything can happen; but without it, only dismal failure awaits us.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont