Mark 11:22-24, NLT
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.
Charles Allen in his book, All Things Are Possible Through Prayer, tells of a shop keeper who lived in New York City. He opened his shop and got married at the age of 20. His shop and his apartment were several block a part so he rode the subway each morning to go to his business. He was very devoted to his business; he opened at 9:00 and closed at 6:00 Monday through Saturday. He always fixed his lunch and ate in the shop. He stayed inside his apartment all day on Sunday and usually in bed resting because he was a frail man and he was always exhausted when Sunday came. He had a daily routine that you could set your watch on. He got up the same time every morning, went through the same routine getting ready, ate the same breakfast, left his apartment at the same time, rode the subway, opened his shop, closed his shop, rode the subway, ate summer went to bed and then all over again the next day. He did this for 50 consecutive years before he died. He never once ventured from his daily routine. He never took a day off or a vacation. He lived his entire life in New York City and yet he had never walked down 5th avenue or seen a Broadway play. He never visited Time Square or Lady Liberty. Not once did he ride to the top of the Empire State Building are visit the Metropolitan Museum. When this man referred to New York City as being his city, he was actually referring to a very small part, the part that he knew and experienced but there was oh so much more that he never knew.
He concept and perception of the city, which was based on his experience was very small. How do you think of God? Do you see Him as an unhappy God with lots of problems or do you see Him as the awesome Creator of all things, who is in all and above all. He is not unhappy and He has no problems. He is the eternal ONE, the infinite ONE. There is no limit to his love, mercy, grace, power or resources. The more He gives the more He has to give. He is the God who can supply all your needs no matter how great those needs are.
When I first read Allen’s story about the shop keeper, I thought, it’s just a simple story and perhaps not worthy of the book but the more I thought about the story, the more I saw the truth that it conveys. What all are we missing due to our stubborn pride and lack of faith. We get locked into a mundane routine and we miss the abundant life.
I am a reader and in my reading, I kept coming across this name and then his books and so out of curiosity, I purchased a Dallas Willard book, the SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES and read it. Then I bought RENOVATION OF THE HEART and now I am reading his classic THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY. I have read a lot of C.S. Lewis and many other brilliant writers but Willard opened my understanding in new ways that shocked me. I’m thinking, I should have known this years ago. Honestly, I feel overwhelmed by my ignorance. Keep in mind that I am speaking of a fellow human being. I do praise God that He can create such brilliant minds as C.S. Lewis and Dallas Willard but I do realize that they too were limited just as I. This leads to the question: How much of God do we know? Are we not like the Shop Keeper? I have given it a lot of thought and I am afraid that I am he.
OUR CONCEPT OF GOD IS IMPORTANT WHEN IT COMES TO PRAYER
We need the faith of the Hebrew children…Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” They had faith in a big God. They said, “The God we serve is able,” amen! They had faith; do we have faith in God, a big God, a mountain moving God?
Faith is the currency of heaven. There is no need to go to the bank before you pray. All the money in the world will not move God but faith will. Jesus responded to faith. Matter of fact, Jesus loved faith. Faith got Jesus excited. I am about to preach Matthew chapter 9 and three times in that chapter the bible records Jesus responding to faith.
- Matthew 9:2 is the story of the friends bringing their paralyzed friend to Jesus. Matthew records, “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, My child! Your sins are forgiven.”
- Matthew 9:22…the woman with the issue of blood…Jesus said to her, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.”
- Matthew 9:29…Jesus heals the blind man…Jesus touched his eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.”
I am telling you that faith moved Jesus and faith moves heaven. Prayer without faith is like a boat without water, sails without wind, a car without a motor…we must pray in faith. God is offended by our unbelief.
To illustrate my point, I want to tell some stories. My kids tell me that my stories are the best parts of the sermon and trust me, they do not compliment my sermons or preaching often.
John Bisagno is Pastor Emeritus of the 22000-member Houston’s First Baptist Church. You can see him on Facebook. I heard him tell this story when he was a young man. John had two daughters and at the time they were pre-school and were at home during the day. John had his study at home and he didn’t like to be disturbed once he had entered his study. One day, his girls came into his study and interrupted with this question, “Daddy, will you build us a play house in the back yard?” He barely recognized their presence and said without a lot of thought, “Sure girls, daddy will build you a doll house. Now you girls run a long because Daddy has got to study.” He showed the out and returned to his studies. Later that day, he glanced out the window and saw this strange sight. His girls were moving things to the back yard. He called his wife and questioned her, “What are they doing?” His wife said, “They are moving their doll things out side because they said you said that you would build them a doll house.” “I didn’t mean today” he said, “Well, you better explain that to them because they believe everything you say and you did say you were building them a play house,” said his wife. John said, “I shut my books and went to the lumber yard to get the material to build them a play house.”
When our son Joe David was five and about to be six, he was telling everyone that he was getting a trampoline for his birthday. That constituted a huge problem for June and myself; we had no money to get a trampoline. They were higher then than they are now. Back then they cost $350 and we didn’t have $3.50. We tried everything. We even told him point blank, “Son, you are not getting a trampoline; we don’t have the money.” He was not discouraged, he continued to believe that he was getting a trampoline. A day or two before his birthday, I said, “June, what are we going to do?” She suggested I look for a trampoline. We had an old Chevy Station Wagon, three seater with wood grained paneling on the outside, a real beauty in the day. We all loaded up  and headed for Decatur. Vernon Lange ran a sporting goods store at the time and so I went in and explained my problem. He said, “Preacher, I have just what you need if you can come up with $100.” I told him that I thought I could manage $100 but no more. He showed me a trampoline, already assembled but it had a bent frame. He said, “Preacher, if you can find just the right place in your yard, this trampoline will work but no one wants to pay full price for one that is bent.” We bought it and carried it home. We turned it upside down and put it on the top of the station wagon. The kid believed and he received.
I have five beautiful granddaughters and I love each and every one but they are all different. The oldest is Lara. Lara has faith in her granddaddy, too much faith. She thinks that I have a gold mine in my back yard. She will ask for anything. She doesn’t ask once, she will keep on asking. She believes that if she keeps asking that she will get me to do what she wants which is usually a new dress or pair of shoes, etc. The only thing that keeps her from bankrupting me is her Big Mama and her Mother. When they find out what she is up to, they cut her off at the pass. If I being an evil earthly father want to give good gifts to my granddaughters, how much more does the heavenly Father want to give to those who ask Him?