openness to new thoughts: prayer or faith that moves mountains

Holy Week is fast approaching us (beginning this coming Sunday, Palm Sunday) and what happened in the gospel narratives which I want to consider in this post is after Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, when he rode a donkey with disciples celebrating the entry of the King with palm branches.

The idea of openness to new thoughts is really not at all something that cannot be thought of as a part of the Lent meditations on this blog, since actually the way of Jesus as the Messiah King was at its heart different, even 180 degrees so from what the disciples, indeed what the entire world expected in those days. So the introduction of this thought is certainly in that league.

Recently I was struck by this post from a professor, an Anglican, Tim Gombis, whose work and scholarship I respect. Entitled, Jesus Expects Disciples to Inhabit the Kingdom. And I was struck by this quote from C. S. Lewis yesterday from another scholar whose work and scholarship I equally respect, Dennis Fisher:

For most of us the prayer in Gethsemane is the only model. Removing mountains can wait.

On top of that, at Prince of Peace Anglican Church yesterday we sang the worship song with the words: “Jesus, he can move the mountains. Our God is mighty to save, he is mighty to save.” So with the challenges that are facing us right now from a number of angles, I was moved to really think about and begin to rethink my own faith and praying.

Here is part of the passage in mind, from the account in Mark’s gospel:

In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Of course everything is contingent on God’s will. We won’t be moving any mountain if God’s will is otherwise. Or it could be a matter of timing. However Jesus makes no such qualifications in his words here to his disciples, and by extension to us. Perhaps he wants us to be so in tune with him that our thoughts will be in line with his thoughts, indeed with God’s will, that which is good, pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2). At the same time I can’t help but think that God wants us humans in and through Jesus to take charge again in ways that are foreign to us in a broken, sinful world with a groaning creation. Getting back to the call in Genesis for humankind to be stewards, indeed even to rule over God’s good earth in ways which bless all creation and for human flourishing (as Tim Gombis points out).

What do I know about this, and how will it change my practice of praying? I’m not sure. There are all kinds of ways to pray as we are told and find in scripture. This is one way, and it seems largely neglected. And so I’m going to begin the practice along with other prayers, of praying some mountains into the sea, that God’s good will in and through Jesus might be done.

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