Holy Spirit of God, by Your breath I’m refreshed and invigorated. Clear away my confusion, and dispel any sinful intentions.
Read MARK 9:14-29
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Whenever there is a new emphasis on prayer in the church, a fresh release of power comes upon the congregation” (Judson Cornwall). Prayer and power is just what we need!
“An epileptic with a tendency to suicidal mania” is how one commentator describes the boy whom Jesus’ disciples failed to heal. Mark makes it clear that the root cause was demon possession. His account ought not to be casually dismissed as superstitious. The victim’s lack of control over his motor responses is paralleled by cases cited in modern anthropological studies of spirit possession. We ought not allow our fascination with science and technology to blind us to the danger of ignoring the reality of demonic activity in our fallen world. The case in view is one of the severest examples of demon possession recorded in the Gospels. The disciples were unable to cast out this spirit, despite having been commissioned by Jesus to exorcise, and despite previously having had some success (6:7-13). Why did the disciples fail?
Jesus offers two reasons. First, they lacked faith. So deficient was their faith that Jesus calls them an “unbelieving generation” (19), a term he normally reserves for Pharisees and teachers of the law (c.f. 8:12). Perhaps they succumbed to the popular superstition that demons can find secure refuge behind a victim’s deafness. In contrast, the boy’s father had faith in the power of Jesus to break through any such demonic defense. His faith was real (“I do believe”) but not unrealistic (“help me overcome my unbelief!” v. 24). Was it because the father believed that his son was healed?
The second reason for the disciples’ failure was lack of prayer (29). Perhaps they assumed they were invested with a quasi-magical power which they trusted rather than calling on Jesus’ name. Faith and prayer are essential to effective service, and are intimately interconnected. Prayer is both an expression of faith and an appeal for greater faith. Today, as then, God releases his power in response to believing and beseeching prayer.
How healthy is your prayer life? If there’s something you need from God, pray earnestly about it now, in faith.
Dear Lord, I need more prayer and more power in my life. Forgive my prayerlessness and release Your power in me as I pray.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.