Matthew 17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
Unbelief will stifle God’s work in your life and mine. Remember the man in the Bible who plead “Lord, help my unbelief.” Yet there is a problem. Even when we pray in faith believing, sometimes we do not get the desired answer to our prayer. We need to be very careful not to place all the blame on our supposed lack of faith. Sir Robert Anderson wrote a book on The Silence of God. I have read it through at least twice in the past three years or so. Sir Robert Anderson argues that God does not speak today, nor answer prayers today, in the same manner as He did when Christ was upon this earth. He states that God is mercifully silent now, for His next public announcement will be and bring judgment. That does not mean God no longer answers prayer, but in some cases He does choose to remain silent. Anderson presents a very interesting thesis, and his book begins most dramatically, but he, at least in my estimation, falls short in supplying the Biblical basis for his assertions, chapter and verse. I believe I have furnished the Biblical basis for his thesis in the cross references I’ve assembled for this verse, Matthew 17:20. Anderson points out that even within the New Testament itself we can see a change taking place with regard to the visibly miraculous. When Peter was put in prison as recorded in the early history at the start of the book of Acts, an angel came and got him out by night. Paul, however, at a much later date, spent much time in prison and was not miraculously set free. Early in Paul’s ministry we read of miraculous healings, but near the end of Paul’s life and ministry Paul writes that he left Trophimus at Miletum sick (2 Timothy 4:20). I think I have learned more about Matthew 17:20 now than what I understood when I memorized the verse as a teenager preparing to give a message at the Wednesday evening prayer meeting at Thoburn Methodist Church. Nevertheless, Matthew 17:20 is still well worth memorizing as a significant prayer promise.
For those who desire to DIG DEEPER into this subject:
(1) Consult the cross references given in Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible on pages 1049 for Matthew 17:20.
(2) Consult the cross references given in The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge on page 1069 or in Logos 5 Bible software for Matthew 17:20.
(3) Lacking access to those two resources, consult the cross references for this passage as I have developed them as given below:
Matthew 17:20. Because. ver. 17. Mt +9:2. 13:58. 14:30, 31. Lk 17:6. Jn 11:40. He 3:19. unbelief. Mt +6:30. 16:8. Nu 20:12. Jg 16:20. Mk 16:14. Lk 8:25. 12:28. for verily. Mt +5:18. If. FS184C, Mt +4:9. ye have. He **7:28n. faith. Note: That is, as Bp. Pearce well remarks, a thriving and increasing faith, like a grain of mustard seed, which, from being the least of seeds, becomes the greatest of all herbs. Mt 8:13. *21:21, 22. Ho %5:15. Mk 5:36. *11:23. Lk 17:6. Ac 3:16. 1 C 12:9. 13:2, 8n. 2 C %5:7. 6:13. 2 T %4:20. He 11:32-38. Ja 5:15. a grain. FS138B, Ge +13:16. Mt 13:31. Mk 4:31. Lk 13:19. this mountain. The Rabbins were termed rooters up of mountains, because they were dexterous in removing difficulties (CB). ver. 1, 9. Mk *11:22-24. Lk 17:6. 1 C 13:2. nothing. Mt 14:29. Jb 22:30. 42:2. Mk 9:23. Lk 1:37. 18:27.