How is your faith today? It seems an odd question but I think a fair one to ask, especially since I believe we all have days of stronger and weaker faith in our lives. Maybe try this one, what kind of faith do you have right now, is it Sustaining Faith, or Mustard Seed Faith? Don’t know the difference? You may think faith is just faith, but most people actually just have one kind of faith, not as many have the second, more profound kind. I recently learned the difference one Sunday, and it not only changed how I see faith, but more importantly, how I pray.
This past month our church held its month long celebration of its extensive global ministry partners and their outreach projects worldwide. The centerpiece of this event involves a huge seed packing activity at all campuses, including visits from different ministry partners and most importantly, guest speakers. It was on a recent Sunday that my wife and me listened to a pastor from Africa preach on several profound topics, such as his ministry to victims of sex trafficking and prostitution in his country, but also beliefs on faith and prayer. He was bold, charismatic and filled with the Holy Spirit as he related his explanation on two forms of faith, Sustaining and Mustard Seed Faith. He spoke about how Sustaining Faith was the type of faith that most people utilize on a daily basis to get through our everyday lives, meaning nothing that is too overwhelming or extraordinary is what you deal with here. However, Mustard Seed Faith, on the other hand, is the big faith that many do not have, the faith that answers the most impossible prayers, the faith that moves mountains. We all know the quote from Matthew, the one that goes “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to the mountains move and they will move.” The pastor challenged us as to the quality of our faith, and the nature of our prayers, as he didn’t accuse people of not having enough faith, he rather reminded us that we need only faith the size of, you know...a mustard seed. But our prayers went right along with that, as he then pointed to the fact that we may ask God for what we need, but we are usually asking for too little, for the mundane, for things we believe could happen rather than our deepest desires.
I left the service that day inspired and empowered, filled with several notable quotes that I knew would stay with me for years to come, things like: “Do not let the smallness of your vision limit the greatness of God”, or how he quoted Psalms when it speaks about asking “for nations as our inheritance,” while we may be all too concerned with asking for a good parking space for the service, but most of all, he shook my very soul when he put forth the question to the congregation, “Do your prayers make God sweat?”
What? Make God sweat? It sounded offensive at first, that I would be so bold as to dare ask for anything that would make the Lord sweat. However as he unpacked his explanation, it all made perfect sense. If we believe that faith the size of a mustard seed will move mountains, and if we believe Him when he tells us to ask for the very nations as our inheritance, then why not pray prayers that make Him take notice, that don’t limit his greatness, that make him, as the pastor said, “roll up His sleeves and get to work” in our lives, and, in accordance with that make the enemy fearful, when he notices that we’re on our knees, praying those prayers again.
After we picked up our son and got into the car, I immediately posed the question to her about what her “impossible” prayer list would be, what would her top ten be like, as it was put to us, what is the “big, hairy, audacious prayer” list? Since I brought it up, I went first, and my mind quickly went to an event that happened just a couple hours earlier, as we held the first step in getting our new life group (Bible study) for special needs parents off the ground, with a meet and greet that we hosted in one of the classrooms in between the services, and shared our story and testimony with other families on our road, and what an incredible service we felt we were providing for them.
I also reflected on what was coming up for me later that week, as I was preparing to travel to Cleveland and be part of a special-needs conference for churches and families that Key Ministry was hosting. I considered myself to be a fairly small cog in that wheel, but still knew God was working and had a plan, so I couldn’t help but feel excited and His hand on me still. So I took a long hard swallow and said out loud: “I want God to use us for global ministry.” I held my breath slightly as I waited for her response, which, while initially began with an “Oh, wow, really?” soon turned into an “Yeah, I can get that for us.”
We continued driving, and the car just got quiet, since, at least for me I settled into deep thought about what else would go on my list, and several things churned in my brain for a few minutes, making a short drive seem like an hour. My wife finally asked me if I was ok, and I just shared how I was really trying to figure out this list, to which she agreed and we continued on for a couple minutes. It was right as we were driving down our street just seconds from our house when a sense of knowing came over me and I said out loud “I want our son to speak,” and she agreed immediately, the car just pulling into the driveway. Now our son does speak, using a communication device, an app on his Ipad that has icons and words on it that he can share his ideas and feelings. She told me that if that is his voice, that’s still ok, but then our prayer would be that he learns the app the best he can and then he can be fluent in that sense, even if its not his organic voice. While I feel that my prayer needs to be that he speaks with his own voice, I know that I should also practice surrender, and that if I pray for him to have a voice then let it be the voice that suits him best, whatever that is. So I have worked on my prayer list, not just any prayer list, my big hairy audacious one, the one with prayers that I may have never considered praying, or at least never had the courage to ask, until now.
When the pastor was wrapping up his sermon that Sunday, he shared a story about his goal to build an apartment building that could be used to shelter hundreds of young women and get them off the streets, giving them a permanent residence. When the board of his church asked him how he was going to raise the two million dollars needed to build it, he simply shrugged his shoulders and told them, “I don’t know, but it’s not my problem, it’s His problem, all I did is ask.”
What about you? Do you have a prayer list that makes God sweat? One that makes him roll up His sleeves and get ready to do the divine work necessary to answer your prayers? I’ve always believed that God answers all prayers, but now the fear of asking because it seems too impossible has been taken away, and on those days when I struggle, I’ll remember these words. When I can’t imagine that God would use me in a big and profound way, I’ll remember to ask for the nations and not the parking space, to not let the smallness of my vision limit the glory of God. And when I pray for my child’s healing, when I pray he may have a voice, when I pray that he may be fully equipped for this world, I’ll remember to have faith, not faith like Moses, but the faith of the mustard seed that moves mountains.
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