Yesterday I had an afternoon with my beautiful daughter. We went to see the movie Christopher Robin and then we walked a bit in the mall and both of us bought some jewelry. On the way home we talked about Mark 11:22-23: “And Jesus answered saying to them, ‘Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.'”
Jennifer said she thought as we grow in our faith in God, our thought is not about what mountain we want moved but what mountain God wants moved and that is the thing for which we ask. Our concern becomes less about our own will but more about His.
Then this morning I read this from Oswald Chambers: “What God calls us to cannot be definitely stated, because His call is simply to be His friend to accomplish His own purposes. Our real test is in truly believing that God knows what He desires. The things that happen do not happen by chance— they happen entirely by the decree of God. God is sovereignly working out His own purposes. . . As we grow in the Christian life, it becomes simpler to us, because we are less inclined to say, ‘I wonder why God allowed this or that?’ And we begin to see that the compelling purpose of God lies behind everything in life, and that God is divinely shaping us into oneness with that purpose. A Christian is someone who trusts in the knowledge and the wisdom of God, not in his own abilities. If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the calm, relaxed pace which should be characteristic of the children of God.”
My cousin Christine Currie is fighting cancer again and she commented they pray in faith, asking for healing as they surrender to God and His perfect plan and will. That spoke to me about asking God to move mountains. Sometimes it has seemed as if adding “but Your will be done” to the end of a prayer was giving God an out. Yes, He always answers prayer, but sometimes (and too often from our way of thinking) He says “No.” So we look at that prayer and say, “Well, it just wasn’t God’s will.”
Our son-in-law preached on those verses last week and told a story of a man who prayed for something, and when it didn’t happen, he said, “I didn’t expect God to do it.” He pointed out that praying in faith and with faith expects God to act and is surprised if He doesn’t do what we asked.
Putting Jennifer’s thoughts on that verse and Christine’s approach to prayer I have to rethink many of the things I’ve prayed for over the years. Have my prayers been for what I want, pushing aside what God wants, blaming my lack of surrender to God’s purposes on God’s doing His own thing contrary to my will? Have I looked at prayer as a time to instruct God on what He should do rather than as a time of fellowship with the God of power, strength and love, coming to a deeper understanding of who He is and what He is about in my life?
I write out many of my prayers and I can look back over the years and see what I ask God to do and what the complete results were. I am amazed that most of the prayers that went unanswered—from my perspective at the time—were actually things that I was glad in hindsight God had ignored. But as I looked farther, I realized that though God did not do what I asked Him to do, He met the need of my heart. I have come to the conclusion that as I pray, the Holy Spirit in me says, “Father, let Me reword that. The true desire of her heart is this, she just doesn’t know it yet.” Then God grants the desire of my heart, not the surface words I spoke to Him. His answers were deeper, fuller, and better than my original request.
Jesus’ words, “Have faith in God” are so powerful. The more I get to know Him, the more I understand about His great love and holiness, the more I surrender to His perfect plan and will, the deeper my faith grows. The more my faith grows, the more fearlessly I ask for the closer to His desires my desires become. My life begins to be one of simplicity and calm as I get to that relaxed place of seeing God behind everything, and resting in His wisdom and love.