Moving Mountains Through Prayer and Faith (Praying Through the Bible #145)

TEXT: Matthew 21:18-22

18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.

19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!

21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 144 messages in this series.

This is message #145 titled, Moving Mountains Through Prayer and Faith

On last week, we took an extensive look at the context of this passage and the true meaning of Jesus’ pronouncement on the fig tree. From a close study of this event, we saw that the fig tree is representative of Israel, and Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree and its subsequent withering away is representative of the rejection that was in store for Israel in return for its rejection of the Messiah.

Now, the disciples who were with Jesus as he traveled back and forth to Jerusalem seemed to have missed the meaning of this event immediately after it happened. They did not see that in just a few more years, Israel, in all its religious glory, would “wither away” as a result of God’s judgment. It is likely that, as we are shown numerous times in the Gospels, Jesus took the disciples aside and explained the meaning of His actions to them later. But right now, Matthew tells us that the disciples “marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away.” They were amazed at the suddenness at which Jesus’ pronouncement had come to pass.

Jesus took the opportunity provided by their amazement to tell them: “Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Dr. Louis Barbieri said, “Jesus used this event to teach a lesson in faith, for if they had genuine faith in God they not only would be able to do miracles such as seeing a fig tree wither away, but they would be able to move mountains. If they truly believed, they would receive whatever they prayed for. The Lord was teaching the importance of faith rather than doubting or simply marveling. By contrast the nation of Israel had failed to exercise faith in Him.”

Now, Jesus was not teaching the disciples to go around cursing fig trees or commanding mountains to move at will and expecting it to happen. The fig tree withered away because Jesus, in accordance with God’s will, commanded it to die. Jesus’ teaching is that those with true faith can do great things for God when their faith moves them to seek His will in believing prayer and then obediently do it. In other words, this teaching is not a blank check allowing you to “command” or “receive in faith” anything you want and expect it to happen for you.

Some Christians have taken license with this verse and have twisted it to mean that God is somehow obligated to do anything and everything we ask of Him as long as we have enough faith. Our faith does not obligate God to do whatever we ask, but it does unleash His power in accordance with His will.

The question we must ask when we look at this passage is: What is the will of God? In the immediate context, the will of God was for the hypocritical religious system of first century Israel to be torn down and for a new religious system — the New Testament church, the Kingdom of God on Earth — to be built up. Thus, for the disciples, this teaching was extremely important. They would face great opposition in their mission to build up the kingdom of God after Jesus Christ went back to Heaven. It is at those times, they would have to have faith, express that faith through prayer, and trust God to “move mountains” on their behalf — not simply because they asked for it, but because it was in accordance with His will.

Emil Brunner states, “Through God’s self-communication [prayer], man becomes a ‘labourer together with God’ – a thought of such audacity that a man whose heart is rooted and grounded in the sovereignty of God as the foundation of all his faith scarcely dares to give it expression.” After Jesus went back to Heaven, the apostles and first century believers triumphed against tremendous opposition from religious Jews, secular Gentiles, and the Roman government. They were ‘laboring with God’, carrying out His will, on earth. They not only had faith in Jesus Christ, but in the Kingdom of God that they were helping to build up on earth. Because they were doing God’s will, they knew that God would move any mountain that stood in their way.

Jesus tells us that we should “have faith” and “doubt not.” Matthew Henry states that this means we should “dispute not with the promise of God.” If something is God’s will, if God has promised something, then we should have faith that He can and will do it. And we should express that faith in prayer. Tim Chester states, “God acts in response to our prayers. James suggests there are things God does not do because we do not pray: ‘You do not have, because you do not ask God.'”

If we know that something is God’s will, why don’t we pray for it? It is because of a lack of faith. Prayer and faith go hand-in-hand. Our faith in God’s ability will lead us to prayer. Our prayers then are a demonstration of our faith. Our faith is like the engine and prayer is the vehicle that demonstrates our belief. Jesus Christ said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

Right now, dear friend, there might be things that God has in store for you (that are His will for you) that have not come to pass simply because you do not have faith and you have not shown that faith through prayer. Perhaps right now there are storehouses of blessing that God wants to shower on you. perhaps right now there are mountains in your life that are in the way of God’s will for you. It might be restoration for your marriage and family. It might be healing from some physical ailment. It might be a resolution of financial difficulties. It might be someone you know who needs salvation. Whatever it is, if it is God’s will, then trust in God, have faith in God, doubt not, and pray! Pray in faith believing and you will receive!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.

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