What Does It Mean To Have The Faith Of A Mustard Seed?

6 min read

When was the last time you cooked with mustard seeds? For those of us more used to squirting mustard out of a bottle than frying with a simple seed, this famous passage of scripture might feel a little abstract. 

In fact, mustard seeds are tiny, just a couple of millimeters in diameter. Keep that in mind as we revisit this famous piece of scripture.

“When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 17: 14-20

Jesus’ frustration in this passage is striking. He is stern with His disciples, stressing that their lack of faith is holding them back. 

He uses the example of a tiny mustard seed to drive the point home. “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed…nothing will be impossible for you.”

Join us as we explore what Jesus was saying here and what our response today should be. 

My prayers Don’t get answered; does that mean my faith is too small?

One of the go-to conclusions when questioning unanswered prayer is that your faith must be too small. 

Before we go any further, let’s remember that God is a good Father who loves to encourage us and build us up. In fact, He wants us to feel empowered, encouraged, and equipped. Any thought that makes you feel worthless, small, or like you just don’t have what it takes is not worth listening to.

There’s never going to be one completely satisfactory answer to why our prayers don’t always get answered. But remember that more often than not, it has to do with our perspective. 

God’s perspective is vast. It encompasses all of time and the whole universe. Consequently, sometimes when we pray, we hit a gap, between our perspective and His. Our prayers are rooted in our earthly perspective. Consequently, this can lead us to pray and think along very different lines to God’s heart. 

One way to breakthrough in your prayer life is to think higher. Ask God to draw your sights up, to see things as He does, and to feel as He does. 

You’ll find that not only does your prayer life become much more alive, but the nature of your prayers will be transformed too. 

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

My Faith Does Feel Small Like A Mustard Seed, I don’t Know How To Pray Anymore

If you find yourself sympathizing with the disciples, then be encouraged. We can still run into God’s arms with confidence even on days when your faith feels as small as mustard seed.

A song by the Rend Collective, ‘Boldly I Approach’ sums this up well:

“By grace alone somehow I stand

Where even angels fear to tread

Invited by redeeming love

Before the throne of God above

He pulls me close with nail-scarred hands

Into His everlasting arms

Boldly I approach Your throne

Blameless now I’m running home

By Your blood I come

Welcomed as Your own

Into the arms of majesty”

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are able to boldly approach God’s throne, voicing our prayers and unloading our burdens. The God of the universe invites us closer. 

This truth is what can cause our faith to soar. Even just grasping this tiny, mustard-seed-sized way, makes the impossible possible. 

Even on your toughest days, when doubts surround you, remember that Jesus gave everything so that you can stand before God with confidence. Let Jesus’ incredible sacrifice and the authority it bought you, form the foundation of your prayer life.

How Do I Grow My Faith?

If Jesus’ teaching on faith as small as a mustard seed has encouraged you to grow your faith, then the best place to start is with advice from scripture. 

Lets read Romans 10:17:

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

Here, Paul reminds us of the importance of knowing scripture and spending time listening to the gospel. ‘Faith comes through hearing, he teaches. 

In fact, the longer we spend meditating on scripture and filling our minds with the truth of the good news, the more our faith will grow. 

Earlier in Romans, Paul writes: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” 

This passage gives us another clue about how to grow our faith. We must declare that Jesus is Lord with our mouths. This might sound a little odd but think of it like this: does what you say affirm or reduce your faith? Do you speak words of hope and confidence in God’s goodness? 

In conclusion, what we say has great power, and the more we boldly proclaim the truth of our faith, the more it will grow. 

Faith Of A Mustard Seed: Helpful Spiritual Disciplines 

There are some simple, easy spiritual disciplines that can support and increase your faith. It’s easy to go days or weeks without making time for prayer or worship, but the cost is that we can end up living without the blessing of God’s peace and strength with us. 

Romans 15:13 says: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Consequently, when we press into our faith, making a discipline of spending time with God every day, we are saying yes to the most beautiful of exchanges. 

God doesn’t just want our attention and worship for the sake of it. No, He wants to take our stress, worry and fear and exchange it for joy, peace and hope. God invites us to ‘abound in hope’. 

Try incorporating a couple of these spiritual disciplines to grow your faith and experience the transformative impact of living in intimacy with God. 

  • Start your day with a short Biblical meditation (find great ones on the Glorify app)
  • Put a worship track on and sing along while you drive or walk 
  • Read a Psalm out load 
  • Share a prayer request with a friend 
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