Honestly Recognize the Mountain,
But Compare It to God’s Ability to Move It
“But He [Jesus] said, ‘The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”
The Scripture above shows that Jesus recognizes the impossibilities of men. If you are going to get regular and spectacular answers to prayer, you must be based in reality. Ignoring a problem or pretending it isn’t as big or as serious as it is, isn’t faith. It’s foolishness.
A few decades ago the Word of Faith movement gained popularity in the church, mainly the portion that considers itself charismatic. After a few years of retrospect, it can be safely said that like other genuine moves of God (e.g., the Reformation; see Persecutions of the Reformation on the internet), much good and much bad resulted.
The good was that the power of faith in God and His word were taught in detail with great consistency. Millions of people found that the God of the Bible hadn’t changed one bit. He still answered prayer, and He still worked miracles. Subsequently, the Holy Spirit responded to this new atmosphere of faith in marvelous power—He is still responding!
2 Chronicles 16:9 was realized: “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him…” Think of it. God actively searches for people to bless. The Word of Faith folks crammed this truth into our faces. I for one am grateful.
Nonetheless, the bad that came from this movement was very bad. Ambitious and enterprising preachers polluted the movement with their greed, covetousness, dishonesty, and astounding biblical ignorance. The point that fits in with our march toward spectacular answers to prayer is ignorance.
One of the extreme doctrines that came from this movement encourages people directly or indirectly not to speak anything negative. Well, I’m all for not being a negative person, but this doctrine goes light-years beyond addressing a negative disposition. It actually condemns an honest assessment of the mountain. It’s considered doubt, fear, or unbelief to acknowledge that the situation is horrible and getting more horrible by the moment.
Listen to me…please! No amount of ignoring a cancer will stop it from growing or spreading. No amount of ignoring bills will keep your utilities from being cut off or you from being put out on the street.
I have a friend, an absolutely incredible woman of God who is so far ahead of me in some Christian graces that I can’t even see her in the horizon. Nonetheless, it’s hard to talk to her when she’s facing a mountain. She’s so afraid of undoing her faith by an errant word that it’s hard to get a straight answer from her about what’s going on in her life.
It’s like, “Mary, I see you standing there in the hot sun. Do you need a ride?”
“Glory to God, all my needs are met,” she answers.
The disconnect here is I’m asking her about her practical need, and she’s responding by telling me what spiritual truth she believes. So I smile and drive off. Guess what? She just missed the ride God sent her. Do not think this is a hypothetical extreme. Unfortunately, it’s all too familiar. But not in the next story.
Recognizing the Problem as a Mountain
Won’t Damage Your Faith If You Compare the Mountain
to God’s Power
“Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying,
‘A great multitude is coming against you…And Jehoshaphat feared,
and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast…
So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord…
they [the nation] came to seek the Lord.
Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly…and said,
‘O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven,
and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations,
and in Your hand is there not power and might,
so that none is able to withstand You?
O our God, will You not judge them?
For we have no power against this great multitude
that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do,
but our eyes are upon You.”
2 Chronicles 20:12
This story shows how to properly look at a mountain. This is crucial because your perspective of the mountain will determine your prayer and your behavior after prayer. Often post-prayer behavior slows down, complicates, or totally stops the answer. So it’s absolutely critical that we understand this lesson.
Part one of the story shows the mountain in all its power: Judah was vastly outnumbered by the huge armies that were coming against it. The king could’ve said, “Bless God, don’t worry about the bad report. We don’t want to glorify the devil by talking about what he’s doing. Doesn’t the 91st Psalm say, ‘A thousand shall fall at our side, and ten thousand at our right hand; but it shall not come near us’?
Notice in part one that the king does something that ordinarily is considered negative in the Christian context.
And Jehoshaphat feared.
Now how many times have we been blasted by faith preachers for having fear? Uh, a lot! I’ll go a reverent step farther. How many times did Jesus rebuke the disciples for their fear? A lot. So, isn’t fear bad? Isn’t it the automatic kiss of death for getting prayers answered?
I think not. I think faith preachers have missed it terribly here. In baseball parlance, they’ve hit the ball and run directly to third base. And as far as Jesus’s admonitions against fear are concerned, we’ve simply struck out. We didn’t understand the context of His words.
Fear certainly can derail prayer answers if we let it, but this isn’t inevitable. Jehoshaphat feared and received a spectacular answer to prayer. How can you imitate Jehoshaphat and get your prayers answered even though you feel fear? Start by understanding two things.
The presence of fear is not necessarily proof of lack of faith. It may be proof that you’re not presumptuous or delusional!
First, the absence or presence of fear doesn’t mean you are either in or out of faith. It is simply an involuntary emotion that the brain produces when it perceives a dangerous threat. You don’t turn off fear by declaring it’s gone, pretending it’s gone, or quoting a Scripture. And since you don’t need to get rid of fear to get your prayers answered, I suggest you spend very little time trying in the flesh to get rid of fear.
Second, Jesus’s commands to “fear not” doesn’t mean don’t feel fear; it means don’t obey fear. Isn’t He the one who said, “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell” (Luke 12:5). Was the object of the Lord’s words simply to get us to feel an emotion? Was it not to get us to obey?
Absolutely. God knows that behavior follows what we fear. For instance, when He says in Revelation 21:8 that the fearful will suffer eternal doom, was He saying those who feel fear are doomed? No. In this context, and indeed whenever the Lord rebukes fear (you can check this by examining such references in the Gospels), He is talking about allowing fear to keep us from obeying Him.
Back to Jehoshaphat. Can you imagine being told you’re being surrounded by ISIS, and then trying to not have fear? Are—you—kidding—me? Jehoshaphat did what I encourage you to do. He honestly and realistically looked at the threat…and subsequently felt fear. But! But! But! He didn’t stay focused on the fear. And I couldn’t hardly wait to say this: Instead of letting his fear stop his answer to prayer, he used the power of fear to increase a sense of urgency and to push him into the presence of God.
A sense of urgency in prayer is often needed to get certain prayers answered. And getting into the presence of God is always needed. This is why I am laboring on this point of Jehoshaphat’s fear. If you don’t admit how big and dangerous the threat is, you may not find the focus and intensity you need to hold on in prayer until its power is broken and the prayer is answered.
Follow Jehoshaphat’s example. Be honest about what you’re facing, and if this admission causes a so-called negative emotion, whether it’s fear, grief, worry, or whatever, let that thing drive you to your knees. Trust me. If you do this, you won’t have to try to spend more time in prayer. You won’t have to try to be more focused in prayer. You won’t have to try to be more fervent in prayer. The mountain will make sure you have all of these things in abundance!
Jehoshaphat Took His Mountain To God, And So Can You!
Part two of Jehoshaphat’s prayer is the good part. He did two things that are part of successful prayer results, especially spectacular results. First, he acknowledged and spoke out loud the general greatness of God. That’s always good, but he went a step farther. Second, he transitioned from speaking in general terms of God’s mighty power to specifically asking God to use His mighty power in the nation’s behalf.
Remember this: It’s not enough to acknowledge that God is great and powerful. At some point, you have to transition to asking God to use that mighty power and influence for your specific situation.
Let these words of Jehoshaphat roll around in your heart. Say them out loud a few times. “For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”
Jehoshaphat didn’t minimize the threat, did he? He felt overwhelmed, didn’t he? He had fear, didn’t he? Yep, yep, and yep. Didn’t stop him one bit! Why? For the same reasons you won’t be stopped. He acknowledged this horrible threat. It produced fear. He let the fear drive him to prayer. In the presence of fear, while praying, he reminded himself of God’s power and spoke this out loud. He then admitted that he didn’t know what to do. Finally, he said out loud, “But my eyes are on You.”
You won’t be stopped because your eyes are on God!
Lesson One. It is not a lack of faith to honestly assess my need, the presence of a mountain, or the power and danger of the threat, if there is one.
Lesson Two. The presence of fear before or during prayer is not an automatic faith or prayer killer. I should use fear and other negative emotions generated by the mountain to drive me to my knees. I should continue this process until I know in my heart or I see with my eyes that the prayer is answered.
Lesson Three. I must remember that the things that are impossible for people are possible for God. He has unlimited power, influence, and creativity. I should believe God well beyond my ability to figure out how He will answer my prayers.
Lesson Four. As I take my issue to God, I should orally speak of His power. And at some point, I must transition to asking God to use that mighty power and influence for my specific situation.
- Do you have a mountain in your life? If so, write it down.
- Think of what happens if that prayer were to never be answered. Scary thought? Good.
- Be honest with God about the bigness of the mountain. Tell Him with your mouth how big the mountain is. Don’t be afraid. This isn’t unbelief; it’s actually faith!
- Now imitate Jehoshaphat. Say, “Lord, I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are upon You!” Say this out loud several times. Feel the spirit of faith come over you. Now with your eyes closed and hands raised, let the Holy Spirit feed faith thoughts to your mind about God’s ability to fix this situation. You don’t have to know how, just that He is able.
If you liked this excerpt of Eric’s book, You Can Get Answers to Your Prayers, please share it with someone on social media. And if you like spiritual warfare novels, click on the graphic below for a wild ride!
This was article three of a 14-part series on prayer. The next article in the series is Make Sure You Pray According to God’s Will When Dealing with a Mountain. You may read the previous article in this series here.