How can this be true?


#1

There have been times (once in Church, when the congregation was told to stand) when my father really believed he could still use his legs.

How can this be true, and why would Jesus say it?

Amen, I say to you, that whosoever shall say to this mountain: Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, and shall not stagger in his heart, but believe, that whatsoever he saith shall be done: it shall be done for him. Therefore, I say to you, all things, whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive, and they shall come unto you. (Mark 11:23-24.)

I also remember reading about a 19th “prophet” who set a date for the second coming, and had his followers take him to the top of a mountain (I believe he was elderly and in a wheel chair at the time) where he pushed himself off expecting to meet Christ in the air.

How can it possibly be true that anyone who really believes he can defy the laws of nature will be able to, or that any prayer will be answered affirmatively if we just believe hard enough that it will be answered affirmatively?

Will dad really stand up and walk if I can just ask God to give his legs the strength, and really believe He will (without doubting) for the brief length of time it takes for me to make that request?

How can Christ’s words here in Mark 11:23-24 (and in Matthew 21:22) be taken any other way?

And if He said this (and that’s the only way to take it), and it’s not true, does our whole religion fall to the ground?

If there is some other way of interpreting these passages, have any of the Church Fathers commented on them?

How did they understand them?


#2

I would say first that Jesus’s words are absolutely true.

The problem is that we just on our own cannot have anough faith, we are wounded, our nature has been compromised by sin. And this stops us from achieving the promise made by Jesus.
I give you one example as proof.

Recall the passage in Matthew 14:29 Peter walked on water but started to think because he doubted. Now if Peter could walk on water as we are told that Jesus was. We too could but we lack the needed faith.
Also there are many reports of Saints that while there were alive, levitated, bilocated, read the conscience of penitents. The Holy Spirit will give this gifts to those that He pleases and we see over and over it is to holy people.
There have been many miracles to people that made pilgrimages to holy sites, perhaps this could be an avenue to consider, but remember that faith is an important component also.
May GOD bless you and your father



#3

Hey SeekerM,

When God says something, He means it. I’d say the above passage is explicitly clear–don’t try to warp it into something easier to accept. (Think of the crowds–as well as most Protestants–in John 6:51-68.)

You must also consider the passage’s fullest meaning.
Here, keep in mind man’s fallen nature. If a man asked God to cast a mountain into the sea, and believed fully that God would do this for him, but asked with a sinful motive or consideration, or for his own interests instead of God’s, would he not still stagger in his heart? If a man were to do something perfectly, he would do it 100% by God’s will, and 0% by his own. (Or rather, his own will would be in perfect sync with God’s.) Therefore, if God were to will to cast a mountain into the sea at the command of a man, and the man was 100% ready to do God’s will, you can be sure that the mountain would soon be an island. But if God did not will this, and the man in his sinful nature did will it contrary to God’s will, and the man commanded the mountain to move believing that God would do it for him, the mountain would still not move because the man staggered in his heart in his request. Sadly, uncertainty is only one of many ways that we can falter.

This is why we depend so fully on the intercession of the saints–while it is difficult for us to pray for God’s will instead of our own, the saints can do this perfectly.

I’m guessing the man that threw himself off a cliff was not following God’s will but his own.

Hope this helped,
Greg


#4

Is your father normally unable to walk?

It might be psychological and not physical, which is why when he believed he could use his legs, he could.

My mother has problems with her legs. Some days she walks without trouble. Other days, she seems to freeze-up, and she can’t get her legs to move. She’ll be walking, and suddenly have a mini-anxiety attack, and she’ll be afraid that she can’t walk and that she’ll fall. And she’ll freeze in place, and not be able to walk. :shrug:


#5

It’s not psychological, and he couldn’t walk (so far as I know–I didn’t help him try to get up when he asked me, because I knew, or thought I knew, that he would fall on his face), but he thought he could.

He’s confined to a hospital bed at home, and he often gets the idea that he could walk if I’d only help him get out of bed.

Once, when I was in another room on this computer here, he unbuckled the seatbelt on his power chair and tried getting into bed himself (and ended up on the floor.)

He thought he could tell his legs to do what he wanted them to do, and he couldn’t.

That might be interesting, but I’m not sure I understand what you mean here–could you explain?


#6

To anyone who thinks the verse is accurate, what method could someone try (and assumedly fail) to show that it is not accurate?


#7

Sorry! I wasn’t very clear…

All sin involves a turning away from God and towards oneself. Obviously, since it would be God that moves the mountain, moving the mountain would have to be in agreement with God’s will. As I said, serving ourselves intstead of God is the fundamental fault of mankind. Putting our own goals above God’s is easily as much of a “stagger in the heart” as uncertainty, and arguably involves just as much lack of belief.

I’ll try to explain more simply by answering Mike’s question:

First, assume nothing. It’s unscientific to go into an experiment with a bias towards a given outcome.
…Just giving you a hard time. :slight_smile:

If God wills to move a mountain at your command, and you are perfectly open to God’s will (this implies no lack of belief), then the mountain should move.

Here is the procedure:

  1. Wait for God to will to move a mountain through you.
  2. Be open to God’s will, not lacking in belief.

From these one could draw a conclusion about the accuracy of the verse. If both of these steps were fulfilled, and the mountain still did not move, one could logically say that the verse is inaccurate.

Here I’ll put a disclaimer: I did not get this from Scripture or the Catechism, it just seems reasonable to me. I could be completely off–please take what I say with a grain of salt.

Greg


#8

Thank you, Greg. I appreciate that you’re giving what seems most reasonable. As a doubter, I do have a few issues (not just with the procedure but with prayer in general).

First, we know that there have been people who are true believers (i.e. they follow step 2 of the procedure) yet their prayers are not answered. So we have to focus on step 1, where we have to take into account that God may never will a mountain to me moved by the one who is praying.

I’ve heard that God can answer a prayer in one of three ways: Yes, no, or wait. In those instances where the answer is either “no” or “wait” later followed by a “no”, how can we tell that we are getting a repsonse at all? Let’s say that some third party prays to a god that you and I both agree does not exist. This third party sincerely believes that this god is real and answers prayers (and therefore fulfills part 2 of the procedure). That third party gets no response. How does this differ than when a christian prays for something and gets a “no” response? On top of that, let’s say the third party prays for something and by coincidence gets what is asked for. How does this differ than when a christian prays for something and gets a “yes” response?

One final question if I could. The procedure doesn’t seem to have any outcome which could possibly falsify the scripture that it’s testing. So long as the person praying is sincere, any lack of response can be chalked up to God not willing it to occur. Is there an outcome that I’m missing which could show the possibility that the passage is false, or is there some other procedure that can test that passage? Thank you.


#9

That’s very interesting (and may actually be an answer.)

Thank you.


#10

Greg’s way of thinking is mine also. Many pray for healings that do not occur and get discouraged. They do not take into consideration that God probably has a higher good. Everything is for our salvation and sanctification, while oftentimes our minds are on the present.


#11

There existed a Saint (his name escapes me) who moved a mountain by means of prayer. Jesus says what He says here in the Scriptures because it is true. God bless you.


#12

SeekerM, it has nothing to do with sincerity; it has to do with God’s will. A person with the faith of a mustard seed is going to desire God’s will to be done, not their own. Too often, we pray self-centered prayers. This is where we go wrong. Our prayers need to be for the entire Body of Christ and for mankind in general because we are all human. We pray for an individual’s salvation because we know God desires to save. However, we do not know when it will occur or how, and the person’s own will has to be factored in.


#13

This is one of those passages that need sound exposition. Scripture says things at times that simply need authoritative explanation and not be taken at face value because sometimes Scripture will say things that are incomplete doctrinally yet appear to be a statement that speaks for itself when in reality it needs proper handling and articulation, because there are many things that are said in Scripture that has exceptions. The gospel writers record things that Jesus said but they by no means ever intended it to be a detailed handbook of practical doctrine to be understood all by itself without proper interpretation by qualified interpreters. The Bible is not a Catechism.


#14

Joshua ordered the sun and the moon to stand still, and it did. As I mentioned in my previous post, some Saint, whose name escapes me, ordered a mountain to move, and it did. They knew that with God all things are possible; we need only to pray with the confidence and the righteousness of these Saints, as weak as we are–we can move mountains if we have the faith it takes to do so, and if it be in accordance with God’s holy and perfect Will. If it is God’s Will that the sun and moon stop or that a mountain move, by means of our confidence in God and by our prayer and His mighty power, the sun and moon will indeed stop and the mountain will indeed move. In God is our strength. We should not water down what Jesus says in the Bible like Modernists do–we should take Him for His Word, for His word is true and He says that we can move a mountain–and a Saint has already proven that we can do so. God bless you.


#15

When psychics, faith healers, and the like sometimes do when they fail is to lay the blame on the person asking for supernatural intercession. Why did my laying of hands not cure your cancer? Because you lack total faith. Why did The Secret not get you the money needed to keep your house from foreclosure? You didn’t believe hard enough.

Since faith can not be measured and the human psyche will always leave room to question if we’ve done enough, there is no way to disprove that there was less than complete faith.

Yet we all know people who seem to demonstrate utmost faith and sincerity in their beliefs yet can’t get a much needed prayer answered. This leads to…

and if it be in accordance with God’s holy and perfect Will.

This seems like another out, a way to assure believers that despite what those passages in the Bible say (and despite the prayers going unanswered) they are still accurate. Would you feel the same way if a prayer of a non-christian went unaswered and he or she claimed the problem was that it wasn’t his god’s will that it be answered? Is there some way to gauge the claims of christian prayer versus non-christian prayer?

To those of us who see the results, prayer seems to generate far more excuses than miracles.


#16

What you are failing to see is that God hears and answers ALL of our prayers. No, He does not always answer them in the way that we expect Him to or in the way we’d like Him to, but He does answer our every prayer and always in the very BEST way possible. He knows more than we what is most expedient for the salvation of our souls, and He answers all of our prayers accordingly. Jesus said, Ask and you shall receive; He did not say, Ask and you might receive. Jesus has given us His word that if we ask, we will receive. And He knows that when we ask it is understood that we must ask with confidence and faith in Him, and not contrary to His Will. God bless you.


#17

The Bible clearly says that everything is not within it, John 20:30, John 21:25.

The Bible clearly says that there are many things to say to you but you cannot bear them now, John 16:12.
That implies future teaching, and again that everything is not in the Bible.

God Bless:)


#18

Perhaps there is an assumption behind these verses that the people praying have wills fully conformed to God’s:

The love-story between God and man consists in the very fact that this communion of will increases in a communion of thought and sentiment, and thus our will and God’s will increasingly coincide: God’s will is no longer for me an alien will, something imposed on me from without by the commandments, but it is now my own will, based on the realization that God is in fact more deeply present to me than I am to myself. Then self-abandonment to God increases and God becomes our joy (cf. Ps 73 [72]:23-28). -Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est

You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

(James 4:2-3 ESV)

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

(1 John 5.14)

and whatever we ask we receive from him, **because we keep his commandments **and do what pleases him.

1 John 3.22

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.

(1 Peter 4:7 ESV)


#19

That’s just it. He didn’t say ask to move a mountain and I’ll do what I feel is best. The willingness to accept unanswered prayer as evidence of prayer’s efficacy is strange to me.

I’ve asked before and so far no one has been able to give a solid answer: If we could imagine all possible responses to a prayer, are there any at all that couldn’t be construed as part of God’s plan? If there is no answer or if the situation prayed about gets worse, and we still consider that proof of prayer’s worth, then what is the point? How can accepting all possible responses to prayer any different than praying to Allah, or a golden idol, or using The Secret and accepting any results that this gives?

I understand that you believe that God answers prayers. I’m just look for something that separates that belief from other beliefs with other types of prayer. What do use to dismiss The Secret or other gods that you can’t with the Christian God?


#20

Would you please rephrase this sentence? I’m having difficulty understanding it. But if I think I understand what you are tying to say, I can say this to you in response: Our God is all-good, unlike all the devils who are false idols and unlike the devil working through the magic of “The Secret.” Because our God is all-good and all-powerful and all-wise, everything He Wills is ordered in such a way to HIs greater glory and honor and for the common good and the good of our souls. Everything. What appears to be a great setback or a great misfortune to us can actually, in the grand scheme of things, be our greatest blessing–and it always is a great blessing when we understand that all things are ordered for our spiritual well-being … both good and evil work to bring us closer to Christ and perfection. Think of Christ’s Passion on death. Just think of what it looked like to His Apostles and others? It wasn’t until after His Resurrection that Jesus and His life did not look like a complete failure to them. We will only know in Heaven why we had to suffer such and such a thing, why God permitted such and such a thing, why God answered our prayers in such and such a way. What we can know now is that we can trust our God 100% to order all things for our spiritual benefit. Why? Why because He is an all-good God who works all things for the good for those who love Him and do His Will. God bless you.


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