The stinging mustard seed
First posted: October 31, 2004
The Lord spoke of having faith "as a grain of mustard seed". In our previous article, we shared on the spiritual meaning behind the "smallness" of the mustard seed. This article deals with the spiritual meaning behind the "mustardness" of the mustard seed. It is important to understand this so that our faith may in fact manifest the qualities of a "mustard seed".
In our previous article, we began studying from the following passage:
"14And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 17Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. 18And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. 19Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? 20And 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. 21Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." (Matthew 17:14-21)
As we explained in our previous article, verse 21 is one of the most misunderstood verses in all of Scripture. What the Lord is telling us is that spiritual prayer and fasting allow the kind of utterance that moves spiritual mountains to go out from our mouths. In our previous article, we studied what it means to "fast" spiritually. We will now study what "spiritual prayer" entails.
In Matthew chapter 6, the Lord says the following:
"5And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." (Matthew 6:5-6)
Notice how prayer has a connotation of intimacy with God. In Matthew chapter 6, the Lord associates "secrecy" with giving alms, with prayer, and with fasting, but He only associates "seclusion" with prayer. You can fast while relating and working with other people, and giving alms implies giving something to someone else; prayer, however, is the expression of a direct and intimate connection between you and God Himself. When the Lord speaks of "entering your closet" and "shutting your door"; this means that all external influences are eliminated; it is as if God and you were the only persons present.
In what is known as "the Lord's prayer", notice the first words that appear in the prayer:
"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name." (Matthew 6:9)
Notice that the Lord's prayer does not start with "Oh, mighty God of the Universe who created Heaven and Earth"; It starts with calling God, "Our Father". This means that, in prayer, we enter into a Father-Son relationship with God where He knows us and we know Him. We can have direct access to speak with Almighty God, the awesome and terrifying Lord who created the Universe, because we are His sons and daughters. Effective prayer, therefore, implies an awareness of our ability to have direct intimacy with the Father. In a sense, it's as if we became God's only son or daughter on Earth when we pray. Intimacy implies uniqueness. If you approach a person who does not know you "by name" and who does not see you as unique, you cannot have real intimacy with that person.
As we shared in a previous article, grace is closely related to intimacy in Scripture. You can only approach someone in whose eyes you have found "grace". Therefore, we can safely say that true prayer is an expression of our grace in Christ. We are special to God; we are spirit-beings, sons of the Father of spirits:
"Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?" (Hebrews 12:9)
True prayer can only flow from you when you are aware of your grace in Christ. This implies that you must really believe that God pays attention to every single word you say to Him:
"But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking" (Matthew 6:7)
The phrase "vain repetitions" was translated from the Greek word battologeo, which is a combination of the name "Battos" and the word logos (meaning "word"). Some believe that Battos refers to, Battus, a king of Cyrene who was known for stammering, while others believe that it refers to Battus, a poet known for writing tedious and wordy poems. As we share in a previous article, to "stammer" is to speak without boldness and spiritual authority. People "stammer" when they are nervous or embarrassed in front of another person before whom they feel inferior or unimportant. Stammering, therefore, means that you do not feel that you have found grace in the other person's eyes.
Don't stammer before God. Once the prerequisite of righteousness is met, every single word that you pray unto God is important to Him. Every single word that the Father pronounces is powerful and important (Isaiah 55:10-11), and, as His son or daughter, every single word that you pronounce in the Spirit becomes powerful and important; as the saying goes, "like father, like son". Don't let your weak human body fool you. Inside of you is a spirit-being made in the likeness of Almighty God (Ephesians 4:24), and when that spirit-being speaks, his words have the authority and power of God in them.
As we have said before, the important prerequisite for God's grace to reign in us is a righteous heart, i.e.- a heart with the disposition to abide in God's justice and judgments. If you give God the disposition, He will add the desire and the ability (Philippians 2:13). As long as God sees in you a heart that is willing to abide in His judgments and righteousness, a cloud of grace will hover over you, and your prayer will release powerful word into the air that will shake the nations of the Earth.
As we share in a previous article, the ministry that seems to have the greatest "innate" awareness of its "grace" before God is the prophetic ministry. Prophets have the boldness to believe that they can hear from God, and they even dare to speak in His name when they say, "Thus saith the Lord". Prophets hear the secrets of God:
"Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7)
You can only hear secrets from God if you can get close to Him, and getting close to Him means that you have found grace in His eyes.
Some of you might say, "It's nice to know that prophets can get close to God, but I'm not a prophet, so I guess that does not apply to me". You would be wrong in saying this because, even if the prophetic ministry is not your primary ministry calling, God wants to grow you up spiritually so that the prophetic spirit may be manifested in you:
"24And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle. 25And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease. 26But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp. 27And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. 28And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. 29And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORDíS people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!" (Numbers 11:24-29)
"14He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; 15Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." (Psalm 105:14-15)
[Notice that the Lord referred to the entire people of Israel who were obedient to Him as "anointed ones" and "prophets". This passage is referring to the Israelites who did not rebel and die in the desert but, instead, were faithful and conquered the promised land with Joshua.]
"9And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. 10And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Revelation 19:9-10)
In the passage above, John was so amazed by the angel (i.e.- the "messenger") who was revealing these things to him that he decided to worship him. Sometimes we are so dumbfounded by the cloud of grace over the messengers that God sends to us that we forget the direct grace that we have with God. God does not send messengers enveloped in grace so that we may admire them, but, instead, so that we may receive an impartation that will allow us to directly abide in that grace ourselves. Those who have a cloud of grace over their lives have it because of their yielded hearts, not because they are "superior" human beings. This is why the angel reminds John in verse 10 above that he is John's "fellow servant". In other words, the angel was saying, "I am a servant, just like you, and the grace that you see in me is available to all of us who yield our hearts to God's righteousness". Notice how the angel then proceeds to say that the testimony of Jesus is the "spirit of prophecy", and that John's brethren (i.e.- all of us) can also have that testimony. The prerequisite for manifesting this "testimony" (i.e.- the spirit of prophecy) is given in Revelation 12:
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." (Revelation 12:11)
"And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." (Revelation 12:17)
If you are willing to shed your life in loving sacrifice for the Lord's sake, the testimony of Jesus will be in you, and you will move in God's true prophetic grace and anointing.
So far, we have established the following:
Combining these two principles, we can conclude that prayer is a prophetic endeavor. Therefore, we need to learn what the Scriptures say concerning "prophetic prayer".
In Genesis chapter 20, the Scriptures say that when Abraham went to Gerar, he told everyone that his wife, Sarah, was his sister. He did this because Sarah was a beautiful woman, and he feared that the "locals" might want to kill him in order to take Sarah (see Genesis 12:10-13). Therefore, Abimelech, king of Gerar, decided to take Sarah to be his wife:
"3But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a manís wife. 4But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? 5Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. 6And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. 7Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine." (Genesis 20:3-7)
Notice that, in verse 7, God says that Abraham was a prophet. Notice also that God does not attribute sin to Abimelech for unknowingly taking another man's wife. Why, then, was it necessary that Abraham the prophet pray for him so that he might live (v7)? Because Sarah was beautiful (Genesis 12:11), and, now that Abimelech had her in his possession, there was a potential danger that he would be tempted to keep her. This shows that prophetic prayer attacks potential dangers that may jeopardize the fulfillment of God's vision for others. It was not God's vision to end Abimelech's life; instead, He wanted Abimelech to continue living. This is a figure of how God does not desire that our prophetic calling die or be cast into the fires of Gehenna. He wants to fulfill His purposes in people's lives, and He wants His people to release prophetic prayer into the atmosphere so that potential spiritual dangers may be removed and God's prophetic purposes be fulfilled.
There are several things at the beginning of the Genesis chapter 20 that are also related to prophetic prayer:
"1And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. 2And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah." (Genesis 20:1-2)
The name "Kadesh" in verse 1 above means "holy", which speaks of "division" or "separation":
"The sons of Amram; Aaron and Moses: and Aaron was separated, that he should sanctify the most holy things, he and his sons for ever, to burn incense before the LORD, to minister unto him, and to bless in his name for ever" (1 Chronicles 23:13)
"8And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, 9Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: 10And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;" (Leviticus 10:8-10)
The name "Shur" in Genesis 20:1 means "wall", which again speaks of "division" or "separation". The name "Gerar" in that same verse means "lodging place", and the name "Abimelech" means "my father is king". Putting all of this together, we can see how Abraham's journey into Gerar is a figure of prayer:
In Habakkuk chapter 3, we see another example of a "prophetic prayer":
"1A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth. 2O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. 3God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. 4And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power. 5Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. 6He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting. 7I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble." (Habakkuk 3:1-7)
The exact meaning of the word "Shigionoth" in verse 1 is unknown, but there are two words in Hebrew very similar to it:
From the Hebrew words above, we can infer that the prophet Habakkuk 's prayer "in Shigionoth" refers to a loud, emotional outcry to God, pleading to Him that Israel be restored because it had strayed from God's prophetic vision and was trapped in religious purposelessness because of the spiritual ignorance that had set in. This is exactly what the Church is going through today. As prophets, you and I are called to pour out our emotions, pleading that God restore the Body of Christ to the Lord's prophetic vision, and that the spiritual ignorance of the Church be removed so that God's eternal purposes for believers may not perish. We are to pray that God revive His work in the midst of this temporal age, and that He bring His judgment wrath, followed by restoring mercy (v2).
As we pray prophetically, we will begin to see the same vision that Habakkuk sees in verses 3 through 7. We will understand that it is God's vision to manifest His Glory on Earth (v3-4), and to show Himself as the God of justice and judgments (v5) that comes to tear down mountains (i.e.- Amorite strongholds), hills (i.e.- Jebusites and Hittites), and to shake the nations of the Earth. As you become aware of all that God envisions, you will become less and less satisfied with the religious mediocrity and conformity of the Church, and your prophetic prayers will become louder and louder, as your emotions begin to long for the manifestation of God's Glory. That is what prophetic prayer is all about -- praying for the fulfillment of God's prophetic vision in the lives of others and the Earth in general.
Prophetic prayer grieves and groans when another person's prophetic purpose is being wasted away, and it struggles in the Spirit to remove all the potential impediments that may prevent the fulfillment of that purpose. Prophetic prayer, in essence, is prophetic intercession.
We must point out, however, that a prophetic intercessor must recognize the cases where the prophetic purpose has been irremediably lost. As we have said before, Scripture speaks of "sin unto death" in 1 John 5:16-17, which refers to when a person loses his or her prophetic calling because of deliberate non-repentance and hardness of heart, as was the case with Saul in 1 Samuel chapter 15. In such cases, it is a waste of time to pray for such people, and it is better to invest that time praying for those whose calling might still be alive.
The word "mustard" in Matthew 17:20 quoted at the top of this article, was translated from the Greek word sinapi, which is derived from the word sinomai meaning "to hurt, to sting". In Scripture, the act of "stinging" is associated with the concept of torture and torment:
"3And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. 5And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. 6And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. 7And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. 8And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. 9And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. 10And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months." (Revelation 9:3-10)
[God-willing, we will post a future article on who the locusts of the passage above really are; they are not what almost all "eschatologists" say they are, because they are interpreting this passage with a literal, natural mind, and their unwillingness to hear God prophetically has deafened them to what the Lord is trying to say here.]
Notice how the sting of the locusts here produces torment without literal death. As we share in a previous article, Hittite spirits are spirits of terror, torment, and despair, meaning that Hittites have the capability of "stinging", which refers to a quick, sharp, and precise attack on a very specific point which causes a great deal of anguish and torment (like a bee sting, for example). Terrorists are moved by Hittite spirits, and this explains why they like to perform quick and precise attacks like the attacks on 9-11; their attacks are designed to produce torment and anguish long after the attack has ended, as was the case with 9-11.
As we learned when we studied the Hittites, they are "left-handed" spirits who prefer to be "unseen"; they are stealth operators who like to work in the dark. This explains why scorpions (mentioned in Revelation 9:5,10 above) and other "stinging" animals, like the bee, carry their sting in the back, not the front, which is a prophetic representation of unseen attacks or "attacks from behind".
In previous articles, we have seen how Hittite spirits are the spiritual counterparts of prophets. Therefore, we can say that both prophets and Hittites are spiritual "stingers". Prophets have the ability to shoot "spiritual arrows" from the darkness of anonymity that can produce quick, sharp, and precise attacks on the enemy. Just as the Hittites have the ability to torment the righteous with their stings, prophets are also endowed with the capability to torment and cause great emotional anguish on the unrighteous with their spiritual stings as they shoot their sharp arrows from the secrecy of their prayer closets.
Based on what we have shared in previous articles, we can say that apostles are sword-carriers who execute spiritual judgments through God's logos word. This means that apostles produce long and wide spiritual cuts on the enemy. Prophets, on the other hand, attack with unseen daggers and arrows that produce quick and sharp wounds on the enemy. We have also studied how apostles are called to endure long periods of "consuming" suffering and grief for the sake of others. Prophets, on the other hand, are called to undergo quick "deaths" that are laden with intense anguish and depression, as the following passage bears out:
"49Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: 50That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; 51From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation." (Luke 11:49-51)
Notice that, in verse 49, "prophets" and "slaying" are mentioned first, while "apostles" and "persecution" are mentioned second, and that "blood" is mentioned explicitly with "prophets" (not with "apostles"). This illustrates how prophets are called to "die quick deaths" while apostles are called to "suffer long periods of persecution".
When you begin to move in prophetic intercession, you will be exposing yourself to stings from the enemy, and you will be called to undergo short periods of very intense emotional anguish for the sake of others. However, your disposition to be stung will give you prophetic authority to sting the enemy back. He may strike your heel, but you will be able to strike his head:
"14And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." (Genesis 3:14-15)
[Notice the reference to "seed" in this passage. The woman's seed is the "mustard seed" of Matthew 17:20]
The Hebrew word translated as "bruise" in verse 15 above is shuwph, which only appears 2 other times in Scripture:
"For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause." (Job 9:17)
[The word "breaketh" was translated from shuwph. The word "tempest" was translated from the word searah, which is derived from another word, saar, which has the connotation of "sudden terror or horror"]
"11If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee." (Psalm 139:11-12)
[Strangely enough, the word "cover" was translated from shuwph, the same word that is translated as "bruise" in Genesis 3:15 above]
Notice how shuwph is associated with "sudden terror" in Job 9:17 and with "darkness" and "hiding" in Psalm 139:11-12. This shows how the two "bruisings" of Genesis 3:15 refer to two types of "stings": to Hittite stings by the enemy on you, and to prophetic stings by you on the enemy. The enemy's stings will cause your feet (i.e.- your soul) to bleed, but your stings will lead to his spiritual annihilation.
Having "faith as a mustard seed" means the willingness in your heart to go through God's purifying judgments that bring "smallness" and to suffer the "mustard" stings of the enemy for the sake of the Lord. As you do, powerful utterances will come out from your mouth that will unleash punishing apostolic judgments and lethal prophetic arrows on the spiritual strongholds in the air. Through a life of "spiritual fasting" and "spiritual prayer", you will be able to say to the Amorite mountain, "move to yonder place", and it shall move, for your words shall be as if the Father had spoken them directly.