We cannot exercise mountain moving faith if we ignore the specific will of God. Intimate relationship and knowledge of God is the only way to know His will.
So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.” (Mark 11:22-23)
Today’s verses raise a considerable amount of debate and confusion. I’ve heard so many people quote them as a ‘promise’ that what they ‘declare’ will happen. Inevitably, they are disappointed, and no one seems to be able to explain why. The usual response is that it ‘wasn’t God’s will’ – which begs the question why it was ‘declared’ in the first place. The other explanation is that we lack mountain moving faith. Both of these are incomplete, a kind of spiritual evasion to sidestep the real issue.
Mountain moving faith is entirely possible.
This is the first truth we need to take hold of. Jesus wouldn’t have spoken of mountain moving faith if it were beyond our reach. Those of us who have taken hold of this verse and obediently acted on it aren’t wrong. If it’s in the Bible, it’s absolutely and completely true. It stands alongside verses that remind us that ‘nothing is impossible with God’ or ‘all things are possible with God. Jesus doesn’t include any maybes, could bes, or if God feels like it. His words are bold and they are very clear.
There can be no doubt that He tells us that if we believe that what we speak will happen, it will happen. That’s what verse 23 says, and Jesus cannot lie. Mountain moving faith is real. It’s honoured by God, and has the supernatural power to release the miraculous into our lives. We absolutely must take hold of this. But it’s less about desiring the miracle than about believing the God who works the miracle. What this tells us is that we must believe that if God said, then it is. Pure and simple. He’s not in the habit of mouthing platitudes that only set us up for disappointment. When God said, “Let there be light,” there was light. That’s the power of His Word which is self-fulfilling. It requires nothing more to fulfil the purpose for which it was sent.
Mountain moving faith always believes for the impossible.
What Jesus is describing here is not a literal mountain moving miracle. Rather, it’s about believing for the impossible. This means that firstly, we must acknowledge that the particular ‘mountain’ cannot be moved. In the natural, what we ask for is absolutely impossible. The answer to our prayer cannot be explained away by scientific, logical, or rational means. It defies every single natural law. We cannot make it happen in our own strength and ability. Nor can we bring anything to bear on the problem in and of ourselves. It exists completely outside of our control.
Of course, the very nature of faith is that it believes for things ‘not seen.’ The ‘not seen’ here refers to natural, physical, visible things. It refers to things outside of our physical senses, things that have not yet happened. But mountain moving faith takes this to a new dimension – an entirely supernatural dimension. It believes not only for something that hasn’t happened yet, but for something that cannot possibly happen. This is faith in the supernatural power and ability of God to accomplish things that literally are impossible.
Declaration and mountain moving faith.
It’s interesting that Jesus includes what is spoken in these verses. The message here is that mountain moving faith requires that it be spoken. This is very different to the popular ‘declare it’ or ‘name it and claim it’ gospels that proliferate. The impetus behind these words is the same principle as was involved in the creation of this world. God spoke, and creation happened. It involves the spoken, rhema Word of God. Simply declaring something will never make it happen. That’s rather like the ‘power of positive thinking.’ If I say I’m successful enough times, I’ll believe it. When I believe it, I’ll become it. Basically, this is a perversion of the holy spoken Word of God which relies on the power of self to manifest.
Disappointment comes in when believers declare something without the rhema Word – the self-fulfilling Word of God – present. We can ‘claim’ this Scripture till the cows come home, but mountain moving faith is more than simply applying a Scripture like some kind of mantra. For it to ‘work’ it must contain the power of God to will and effect it. Without this, it’s simply a repetitive presumption that is bound to disappoint us. We cannot simply take something out of context and apply it like a Band Aid. This is simply claiming a Word because it ‘fits’ and because it promises a solution. Our spoken Word must always be within the context that God has provided.
Mountain moving faith in context.
Verse 22 provides the accurate context for mountain moving faith. This short sentence is incredibly powerful, yet it is often overlooked. ‘Have faith in God’ seems an odd and obscure admonition, but it’s critical. It comes before the mention of speaking and seeing mountains move. That alone should make us stop and take notice. What it means is that we must have faith in God before we speak to the mountain. But we believe in God. Don’t we? We wouldn’t be declaring His Word if we didn’t. For us to speak it, we must believe it, even if it’s impossible.
Yet Jesus saw fit to include this before He went on to mountain moving faith. There is obviously a vital connection we need to grasp. What He’s telling us is that, if our mountains don’t move, we don’t really have faith in God. This, of course, opens the proverbial spiritual ‘can of worms.’ It suggests that we lack faith, a very common misinterpretation that is very damaging. What I have come to see is that the emphasis is not on ‘have faith’ but rather on ‘in God.’ This is a fundamental error that causes much disappointment, discouragement, and ultimately, doubt.
Faith in God and mountain moving faith.
So what does ‘have faith in God’ really mean? Firstly, it’s more than believing He exits. Secondly, it’s more than believing He can do the impossible. While these two truths are very important, the faith in God that empowers mountain moving faith is something far deeper. It is faith based on an intimate knowledge of the nature, character, and will of God. To fully grasp this, we must understand that God is living, animate, dynamic, and vital. He is not a ‘concept’ that we can apply like some kind of ‘fix-all’ which equates essentially to a magic spell. We cannot simply declare the Word and automagically receive the results we require. Faith in God requires intimate, deep relationship with Him. We must know God to have faith in Him. Knowing Him means spending time with Him, learning to hear His voice, and understanding His direction.
The greater our knowledge of God, the greater our faith in Him. Faith-related disappointment comes when we don’t know the will of God and presume to apply His Word. This, essentially, is not faith in God but rather faith in the ‘recipe’ we perceive in His Word. The ‘declare’ it and ‘name it and claim it’ gospels put faith in the words rather than the Word and the God who imbues it with power. It’s not faith based on an intimate fellowship with and knowledge of God. Rather, it’s a kind of spiritual ‘short cut’ that is based on the worldly perception of principles like positive thinking and others. We decide what is needed, speak it, and expect God to comply. That is not real faith in God because it excludes the vital principle of His will.
Mountain moving faith must include God’s will.
Faith for this kind of impossible must include the dynamic, supernatural power of the rhema Word of God. For the rhema Word of God to be present, we must first hear it. In order to hear it, we must first understand what it is. Rhema essentially means ‘something spoken.’ That means that God must speak it and we must hear it. This is where the problem comes in. How many of us truly stop to listen to what God is saying in extreme situations? Our natural response – and a good one – is to turn to His Word and to ‘harness’ mountain moving faith. But the Word of God is directly related to His will. There is the ‘general’ will of God and the ‘specific’ will of God – what He intends in a particular situation.
The general will, which is always Bible based, is contextualised by the specific will which relates to our particular circumstance. One never excludes the other. They always work together and always confirm each other. More often than not, however, the rhema Word relates specifically and the written word relates generally. In other words, God provides additional confirmation that is situation specific through His rhema Word. What it boils down to is that we need to be in intimate relationship with God so we hear what He has to say. What we hear defines His will. Only then can we speak with mountain moving faith and expect results. This is what ‘have faith in God means.’ Until we truly know God and hear His voice, any attempt at mountain moving faith is doomed to failure. It has nothing at all to do with us.
God provides and empowers mountain moving faith.
When we apply the principle of mountain moving faith without the injunction to have faith in God, we’re on shaky ground. The Word of God must always be taken in context, otherwise we simply reduce it to a man-skewed mantra to fulfil our own expectations. We must remember that our God is one who always takes care of every detail. No matter what we face, He already knows it and what is needed. Simply ‘declaring the Word’ and ignoring the critical requirements will serve no purpose. In doing so, we use the word as a ‘tool’ and exclude the power and will of God. We assume we know His will and expect that it will line up to ours. Little wonder that we are so often disappointed.
Only God can provide and empower real mountain moving faith. He will, however, only provide it when we take time to listen and discern His will. If we decide the mountain must move, and He wants it to simply become a mole hill, we’re at cross-purposes. No amount of declaring or claiming will change anything. The mountain will remain and we’ll be disappointed, discouraged, and full of doubt. God will never honour His Word if it is applied outside of His will. That’s an attempt to manipulate God into doing what we want, and He’ll never, ever comply. It’s absolutely true that His Word is immutable, faithful, and self-fulfilling. But it’s not a ‘fix all’ we can slap onto every problem and ‘resolve’ things our way.
Mountain moving faith is only possible in God.
We like the idea that is only possible ‘with God.’ This somehow suggests that He’ll come alongside and meet our expectations. The real truth is that mountain moving faith meets His expectations, not ours. We can speak only what we hear – if it was what Jesus did, we cannot expect anything less. When confronting a mountain, we all too easily forget that God may have a particular reason for that mountain. There may be something He wants to teach us. He may want to slow us down a little so we can learn something. Simply speaking the Word isn’t going to make a smidgeon of difference if this is the case. In God, however, we learn to discern His will.
The irony is that if we hear His will and obey that, the mountain often removes itself without us lifting a finger. It’s not about the mountain at all, but rather about the fact that nothing happens in our lives without God being in it. The fact of the matter is that if God wanted us to move every mountain, we’d have a pretty flat – and boring – landscape. Sometimes, the mountain has a vital purpose. Instead of ‘speaking it gone,’ we’re better off on our knees, asking God what He wants. If both His written and His rhema Word tell us to speak to the mountain, we can be sure it will listen. No mountain, however high, will hang around when God tells it to go take a dunk in the nearest ocean. The power of today’s verses lies in the fact that we speak God’s words, not ours.
Mountain moving faith is faith in God alone.
Faith in God is a dynamic and powerful thing. It comes from intimacy, from spending time with Him, form listening, and from being obedient. We aren’t required to have mountain moving faith but rather to have faith in Him. We must believe that God is in control and that everything has a purpose in His will. Our faith must be in the knowledge that He knows every need and every detail and has already provided. Mountain moving faith will come when it is necessary, because He will provide and empower it. Our part is to learn to listen, to surrender self and hear His voice, and act in obedience. If we trust in the sure and certain truth that He will always reveal His will and empower His Word to perform it, the impossible will be simply part of life in Him.
Lord God, forgive us if we have presumed and used Your precious Word as simply a means to an end. Help us to draw near to You, and to listen and hear when You speak. Reveal Your will in every situation. Empower us to see You in everything and to know Your will, so that we can be obedient to Your written and Your rhema Word. Today, we acknowledge that mountain moving faith is Your prerogative alone, and ask that You draw us deeper into intimacy with You so that our faith is in You alone.