Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”
– Mark 4:30-32
“It was a saying of George Mueller that faith grows with use. If we would have great faith we must begin to use the little faith we already have. Put it to work by reverent and faithful praying, and it will grow and become stronger day by day. Dare to trust God for something small and ordinary and next week or next year you may be able to trust Him for answers bordering on the miraculous.”
– Rev. A. W. Tozer, The Set of the Sail
Like building muscle, you must exercise the muscle for it to grow. Muscles that are not exercised become atrophied in time.
Tozer goes on in The Set of the Sail to mention James 4:2 which states, among other things, that you don’t have because you do not ask. While this is true, the first few verses of James 4 talks about not having the right attitude toward prayer and God. When we have the right attitude toward God, or in other words, our will becomes aligned with God’s will, we can ask and receive what we asked for.
And isn’t that what Tozer is really saying? We exercise our ‘prayer’ muscle and trust that God will answer us. As we pray more, we establish a closer relationship with God, and our faith grows. Once that happens, we start molding our wants and desires to be in-line with God.
Jesus uses the mustard seed twice in His teachings. In the Scripture above, Jesus uses the mustard seed in a parable. The kingdom of God is like a tiny mustard seed that grows into a large plant. This is apt for the quote from Tozer. We have a little faith. We exercise our faith, and our faith grows. As the faith of all God’s children grows, so does the kingdom of God. The other reference to the mustard seed in Jesus’ teachings is the statement that we could move mountains if we had the faith of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20).
It cannot be a coincidence that these two references both apply to roughly the same thing. In one case “faith” and in the other case “the kingdom of God.” Yet, the kingdom of God is like the church, it is the body of all believers, who have faith.
Tozer suggests prayer and stepping out in faith through prayer. To follow the admonition that accompanies Tozer’s reference in James 4, we should spend more time in God’s word and in Bible study with other Christian friends to learn more about God and His perfect will. But nothing replaces prayer. It is a muscle that we need to exercise.
Soli Deo Gloria. Glory to God Alone.