Author and speaker Graham Cooke says that when your mountain doesn’t move, perhaps it’s because you are meant to learn something from it. I agree, and here’s how I’d say it: Sometimes mountains need to be mastered before they can be moved.
In a culture known for its love of instant gratification, “mountain-moving faith” seems pretty appealing at first. Problems? Speak to them and they’ll disappear! After all, that’s what Jesus told us to do, right?
Absolutely. And this works. Yet just when you think you’ve got faith figured out, God throws a curveball!
Think about it: you’re finally on God’s team, in the game and up to bat. You’ve had some good practice sessions, and you know you’ve got the upcoming “faith play” covered.
The pitch is thrown. You swing at the ball with all your might, miss it big time, and are left standing at home plate wondering, “Well, what the heck?!”
Unfortunately, the same thing happened to Jesus’ disciples.
In Luke 9, Jesus sends out the twelve with power to preach and to heal all kinds of sickness and disease. Scripture tells us that they do exactly that, “healing everywhere.” They (and later also, the 70 sent out in Luke 10) return rejoicing, telling Jesus about all that they have done. It is a major victory, one that energizes their faith and makes them feel like the overcomers they are designed to be.
These are the “aha!” moments of faith, the wonderful times when a seed is sown, received with joy, and springs up into something beautiful. We learn that we have the power to move mountains; we speak to the mountains and they move. Hallelujah!
The trouble is, not all mountains move. Some are there for another purpose. Luke’s stories help us understand what that purpose is.
For the disciples, the ninth chapter of Luke presents three major victories of faith, followed by several crushing defeats.
Almost overnight, Jesus’s newly-formed small group becomes a tribe of healing evangelists. They preach everywhere and successfully heal the sick. The chosen few return excited and hungry, and their hunger results in the miraculous feeding of five thousand men. Talk about faith!
Peter, James, and John then accompany Jesus to an amazing “mountaintop experience” with God, where they see Christ transfigured as Moses and Elijah speak with Him. By this time, their hearts are full of faith and the joy of the Lord!
The next day, though, Luke aptly notes that they “come down from that mountain.” (9:37) Their physical descent is a fitting description of what they are about to encounter emotionally.
Suddenly, a man cries out to Jesus from among the crowds, saying that his son is a convulsing epileptic. The disciples, despite all their recent victories and newfound authority, have been unable to cast that demon out.
In other words, all of a sudden, the mountain doesn’t move.
Not only that, but these disciples begin disputing among themselves who will be the greatest. They then misuse their new authority by forbidding those who are not part of their “tribe” to do deliverance. Finally, they ask Jesus if they can “call down fire” on the Samaritan village that refuses to receive their esteemed Leader. They began in the Spirit but come to a grinding halt in the flesh!
What happened to their glorious faith? The conquering heroes from just a few moments earlier are stumbling over themselves! Deliverance isn’t working. Jesus calls them “faithless.” (Ouch!) They vacillate between a desire to heal people to a desire to destroy them. This is often the case with us, too.
SPEAK TO THE MOUNTAIN
I know from experience that “speaking to the mountain” - a biblical expression for confronting negative, demonic things in our lives - works. Mark 11:22-24 records Jesus’s words on this subject:
“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 what he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” (NKJV)
I could share some amazing testimonies with you about mountains being moved! Seemingly impossible situations have threatened to undo our family and been brought to nothing through the power of prayer. Mountain-moving faith puts kids through school, releases favor in the workplace, imparts healing, breaks generational curses, and frees us from all kinds of oppression.
I could also share some stories of times when I spent years (yes, years!) praying for mountains to move - and they didn’t. Like you, I have spent hours in prayer, repeating that familiar phrase: “Why, God?”
When our family encountered serious financial difficulties - a HUGE mountain of lack - I learned (the hard way) that this particular mountain needed to be climbed before it was moved.
As I wept and prayed one day during that long, difficult season, I heard the Lord say, “I’m more interested in your character than your comfort.”
In other words, moving the mountain was the easy part! God could have dropped a million miraculous bucks in our pockets, moved that mountain, and let us continue on our way. (And God knows instant gratification was definitely on my agenda!)
Had God done that, however, we would never have developed the deeper understanding we now have about stewardship, debt reduction, trusting in God’s perfect provision, and walking in our true callings. These more valuable things have built solid, proven character which can never be taken from us.
Because that mountain didn’t move immediately, I learned a few things I needed to know. Because I climbed that mountain, I will never again doubt whether it is God’s will to provide for me. My faith is rooted and rock-solid in this area. There is no “doubt in my heart,” as Mark 11:23 says because I have turned over every lie the enemy hid in that treacherous rock of unbelief and dealt with it once and for all. Mountains provide us with the opportunity to become rooted in the Word of God pertaining to our situation so that we don’t fall away when tribulation comes (See Luke 8:13).
Did I enjoy the character-building process? NO! Yet I am far happier to have made that rocky mountain climb, learning its terrain, because I now know the way to the summit. I can act as a guide to those who are stranded on the same mountain. I see financial miracles happen on a regular basis now where I didn’t before. And when the enemy attacks in this area, I have “mountain moving faith.”
Faith moves mountains. But mountains also build faith! What is God doing in your life at this moment? If the mountain isn’t moving when you speak, perhaps there are some things you need to deal with before you’ll have the faith to move it. It’s not cause to give up; it’s cause to go up and grow up!
ROCKS THAT CRUSH
The character flaws of the disciples in Luke 9 include faithlessness, prayerlessness, selfish ambition, fear, pride, competition, legalism, doubt, judgmentalism, and even a desire to destroy anyone who stood in their way. (See vs. 40-56.) Jesus perceived their hearts and rebuked them, saying, “you do not know what manner of spirit you are of.”
Think it was just the disciples who stumbled over those rocks? Think again! I have too, and I’m sure you can identify also if you’re honest. If you're not careful, unbelief, doubt and character issues are the types of rocks that will crush you long before you move mountains, and they must be conquered in order to live life in Christ’s image.
When the mountain doesn’t move, we need to remember that faith isn’t just about what we speak. It’s about who we are, what we believe and what we do.
Ineffective faith can be the product of not only unbelief but also simplistic thinking that denies the power of a holy life. (See 1 Peter 1:5-9.) Purity and power go hand in hand. No one is perfect, but a willingness to bring opposing attitudes and beliefs to the cross instead of blaming God for not showing up is the way to make mountain-moving faith a reality.
When the mountain doesn’t move, don’t throw away your trust in God! Know that mountains give you opportunities to strengthen your faith and develop your climbing muscles. Speaking with faith means you’ve dealt with the doubt. One day soon, you’ll look at your promise and say with faithful Caleb: “Give me this mountain!”
Like this teaching? Hungry for more? Listen in as Graham Cooke shares his perspective on mountain-moving in this short podcast, The Secret to an Upgraded Life. (If you're short on time, begin at the 7:45 mark). I believe his teaching will expand your understanding!
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.