Chapter 11: 'Mountains & Mulberry Trees'- the rule of Faith

In Chapter 11 we examine the role that faith has to play in effective Christian prayer. What, exactly, is the ‘mustard seed of faith’? What does Jesus mean when he tells us that faith-filled prayers can move mountains? How much faith, or what type of faith, is needed to see God respond? And does an absence of faith positively hinder prayer?

Sermon accompanying chapter 11

Preached by Chris Band at Headington Baptist Church, Oxford on 22nd July 2012
Download the study guide.

Questions

  1. Ask the group to share their positive and negative experiences of how they have understood and applied the requirement to pray with faith. Have they ever blamed themselves, or been made to feel guilty by others, for having insufficient faith to see God move?
  2. Read the story of the healing of a boy with a demon (Matthew 17:14-21). Why is Jesus so frustrated here? Does Jesus appear to contradict himself in v20? What has gone wrong with the disciple’s faith? Why does Jesus choose the image of ‘moving mountains’ to make his point [pp.194-195]? What is the significance of the mustard seed [p.197]?
  3. Read Luke 17:1-6. Why do the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith? Why does Jesus choose the image of the Mulberry Tree to underline his point [p.195]?
  4. Read Mark 11:12-25 (Jesus cleanses the Temple and the cursing of the Fig Tree). In what way does Jesus’ description of faith-filled prayer in v23 stand in contrast to the prayer that was being offered in the temple? Might Jesus have a specific mountain in mind in these verses [pp.195-196]?
  5. Ask the group to name further examples in Scripture where faith-filled prayer gets results [p.196].
  6. Does a lack of faith make our prayers less effective? See Mark 6:5-6 & James 1:5-8.
  7. Discuss the definition of the mustard seed of faith [p.199]: the belief that ‘God is able!’ How helpful is this definition?
  8. Is it possible to pray with faith and yet end our prayer with the words ‘if it is your will’ [pp.199-201]? How do we reconcile the sovereignty of God’s will with our requirement to pray confidently and specifically?
  9. Ask the group to summarise what they believe it means to pray with faith.
  10. What are the mountains in the lives of the group or those that they know that could be brought to God in prayer? How, practically, will the group seek to pray with increased faith?