“He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, 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 [NIV]
Faith of a mustard seed
Do you know the size of a mustard seed? It’s usually around 1 to 2 millimeters in diameter, comparable to the tip of a pen. Essentially, it’s very small.
Mustard seed faith is a bit of an odd idea, but historically, mustard seeds were used as a figure of speech to indicate something minuscule. But shouldn’t our faith be large rather than small? Why would Jesus want us to have faith the size of a mustard seed—minuscule faith?
It’s not that Jesus wants our faith to be that small—it’s more of a comparison to draw awareness to our shortcomings. When Jesus uses a mustard seed as an example of faith, He’s telling us our faith is less than minuscule. Our faith can’t measure up to even a mustard seed. It’s a sobering reality.
Surely, if Jesus uses mustard seed as a figure of speech, then our ability to move mountains is a figure of speech, as well—right? Scripture suggests otherwise.
God performed many miracles through His chosen vessels all throughout Scripture. Moses parted the Red Sea through God’s leading. Elijah called fire down from Heaven through his faith in God. The apostles performed miracles of healing, casting out demons, and even raising the dead throughout their lifetimes.
Knowing the way God has used His people in the past, is it outside the realm of possibility to suggest we could move mountains? No, it’s not. But we need to understand what this faith means because otherwise, you won’t be telling a mountain to move with much success.
Have you ever called out to God, begging Him to change an outcome, to meet a need, or provide healing, only for the prayer to seemingly go unanswered? Most people can relate. God is faithful to provide, but His provision doesn’t always look the way we picture it.
We struggle with faith because we want God to fit into our own plans instead of trusting in His plan.
God isn’t a genie in a bottle, ready to perform miracles at our whim. 1 John 5:14-15 NIV says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.” God acts on prayers that align with His will.
“God isn’t a genie in a bottle, ready to perform miracles at our whim.”
Moses parting the Red Sea, Elijah calling down fire, and the apostles performing miracles all have one thing in common—God’s will. They weren’t calling on God as a source of power, using His might and majesty however they wanted. On the contrary, God used them as vessels to perform His wonders.
Through faith, they opened themselves up to God’s leading, and God accomplished many magnificent miracles because of this faith. It wasn’t their own power—it was God’s.
How do we achieve mustard seed faith?
First, we need to humble ourselves. Romans 12:3 NIV says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but think of yourself with sober judgment, according to the measure of faith God has given you.” Our faith comes from God—not our own power. As such, we need to embrace our need for Him and accept that we can’t achieve faith on our own.
Knowing that God supplies our faith, the next step is to pray. Philippians 2:13 states, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.” God supplies the desire to follow Him. Without His help, we can’t align with His will. If we ask God to supply us with faith and a desire to serve Him, He will hear us; 1 John 5:14-15 gives us that assurance.
Prayer is the most important step, but we also need to live out our faith. If we’re aligned with God’s will, there will be fruit in our life.
We also have assura nce in John9:31 that if we do His will, he hears us: “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does His will.”
If we acknowledge our need for God, ask for a desire to serve Him and show His fruit, we then tune in to His leading.
It’s only when we’re attuned to His leading that we truly desire the things of God. There our prayers will also align with God’s desires.
That’s where mustard seed faith begins.
- When you make requests of God, do they typically align with your will or God’s will?
- What steps could you take to build up your faith to align with God’s will?
- What mountain are you facing in your life? Take time today to pray with faith that God will move it.
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