Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mountain Moving Prayer

In his book, Partners in Prayer, John Maxwell writes how God came through for farmers of Minnesota in a supernatural way. In the summer of 1876, grasshoppers nearly destroyed the crops in Minnesota. So in the spring of 1877, farmers were worried. They believed that the dreadful plague would once again visit them and again destroy the rich wheat crop, bringing ruin to thousands of people.

The situation was so serious that Governor John S. Pillsbury proclaimed April 26 as a day of prayer and fasting He urged every man, woman and child to ask God to prevent the terrible scourge. On that April day all schools, shops, stores and offices were closed. There was a reverent, quite hush over all the state.

The next day dawned bright and clear. The temperature soared to what it ordinarily was in midsummer, which was very unusual for April. However, due to the unseasonable warmth Minnesotans were devastated as they discovered billions of grasshopper larvae wiggling to life. For three days the unusual heat persisted, and the larvae hatched. It appeared that it wouldn’t be long before they started feeding and destroying the wheat crop.

On the fourth day, however the temperature suddenly dropped, and that a night frost covered the entire state. The result was that it killed every one of those creeping, crawling pests as surely as if poison or fire had been used, May 1, 1877 went down in the history of Minnesota as the day God answered the prayers of the people.

Now that’s what I call an example of “mountain moving” prayer. Jesus said in Mark 11:22-24, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

When Jesus speaks of mountain moving faith He’s using a hyperbole—or an extreme exaggeration—to make a point. In Jewish imagery, a mountain signified something strong and immovable, or a problem that was too gargantuan for a human to move out of the way. God calls us to believe him for things that humanly speaking makes no sense.

We all have mountains of difficulty in our lives. Sometimes they are great tasks laid before us which we don’t have the resources to meet. Sometimes those “mountains” are broken relationships that can’t be fixed or habits of sin that cannot be overcome. Your “mountain” may involve believing God regarding a health issue or a loved one who is far from the Lord.

Whatever the obstacle might be that prevents you from moving forward in life, Jesus is saying that the power of prayer is unleashed when we look at God and not the size of the mountain. If the thing that you’re praying for God to do doesn’t overwhelm you then it won’t require faith and dependency on Him. So the worst thing we could do is insult God with small prayers.

That is why James writes that one of the ways we sabotage our prayers is by having inadequate faith. James 1:5-8 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

If you aren’t totally convinced of God’s ability to do the impossible then you might as well pitch prayer, because if your prayers have clouds of doubt hanging over them then they won’t get past the ceiling. Before getting down on your knees and asking God to move a mountain go to Scripture and remind yourself of all the impossible things that God has done for people. Review God’s faithfulness in your own life so that when you pray you will do so confidently.

Believing God for the impossible often looks like an exercise in foolishness. But in order to see God move a mountain you’ve got to be willing to look foolish. Elijah looked foolish dumping water on a pile of wood before calling down fire from heaven. The Israelite army looked foolish marching around Jericho blowing trumpets. David looked foolish standing up against a ten foot tall giant with nothing but a sling. But the results speak for themselves. Bold prayers honor God and God honors bold prayers.


John Maxwell, Partners in Prayer (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1996), 65

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