I recently came across a line while reading a friend’s blog: “I haven’t seen God move mountains. But I believe He can.” I haven’t seen God move mountains, either, I thought. But I also haven’t asked Him to try. It’s not that I don’t think God can remove obstacles; I have a hard time believing He wants to. Let me put it this way: I don’t doubt God’s ability—I doubt His will.
I caught myself doing it the other day. A neighbor who had been out of work for over a year was in his third interview with a prospective company. Father, please give Jeff favor with his interviewers, I prayed. Then I began to doubt that giving Jeff a job was among God’s priorities. What if God wants Jeff to remain jobless because that would develop greater dependence on Him? And did Jeff deserve an answer? How had he spent the year—investing in his community or watching television? I knew that God was capable of giving Jeff a job, but did He want to?
Feeling like an awful friend, I sat in silence. This wasn’t the first time my well-meaning prayer had been halted by skepticism. Desperate for truth, I opened my Bible to see what Jesus had to say about prayer.
“Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you” (Mark 11:23-24).
My trust was in man’s ability, not in God’s sovereignty.
That’s when it hit me: My trust was in man’s ability, not in God’s sovereignty. Like Job’s misguided friends, I had presumed that Jeff’s predicament was somehow tied to his spiritual performance—just as I had many times with myself: I didn’t believe the Lord would answer my prayers if I hadn’t done everything in my power to achieve the desired goal first.
But Scripture encourages believers to approach God as if He can and will answer prayers, as if He wants to give good gifts (Matt. 7:11). Frankly, it’s bad theology to accept God’s extravagant grace but reject His other gifts—especially when they minister to believers and encourage nonbelievers to embrace salvation.
So I revised my prayer. This time I came before the Lord with confidence that my request would be answered not in response to my performance, or Jeff’s, but in my confession of faith. Father, I pressed. I believe that you want Jeff to provide for his family and enjoy the work of his hands. Thank You for preparing a job for him. I believe that You will give it to him, Lord. That was it—simple and expectant for God’s desire to give good gifts to His children, whom He loves.
Later that day I received a text message saying Jeff was formally offered a job. The floorboards where I knelt in thanksgiving felt like holy ground. I learned a fundamental lesson: Even when my faith feels small in the shadow of a great mountain, God is always faithful to His word.