If you have been a Christian for any length of time, there has been (or will come) a time in your spiritual life where you have felt (or will feel) like you are “all prayed out.” If you have ever experience that feeling in the past, or are currently experiencing that feeling, then this blog post is for you.
The parable found in Mark 9:14-29 tells of a man who sought Jesus to deliver his demon-possessed son. The passage reads,

“Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” 19 Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth. 21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” 23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” 24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” 25 When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” he said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!” 26 Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up. 28 Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?” 29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer,” (Mark 9:17-29, NLT).

The first point that resonated with me was when the man requested that Jesus, “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” The text did not clarify whether or not the man doubted Jesus’ ability or whether he doubted His willingness. Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter because both suppositions are equally dangerous. Both thoughts are sign of unfaithfulness. One thought says that God can’t do what He says he could do, while the other says that God won’t do what he said that he would do. Both assertions label God a liar. While we might be inclined to look down our noses at the father in this parable, the truth is that many of us are no different. We pray with question marks instead of exclamation points. We either think God can’t do what He promised or we think that He does not have the desire to follow through on His promises. Somehow we have to get to a place in our spirituality where we know that God is faithful even when we are not.
The second point that resonated with me was when the man asked God to help him with his “unbelief.”   As Christians, we need to know that there will be times in our walk with Christ when we need to restore or even ignite our faith.  In those moments, we will need to ask God to help us to restore/establish our faith foundation.  Sometimes, what we need is the faith to have faith.
The last point that captured my attention was the fact that the disciples could not cast out the demon from inside the boy. When the disciples ask Jesus to explain why they had failed. Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.” For me this was huge. I believe that the passage was saying that while it is important to have people in our lives to intercede on our behalves, there are times where we are just going to have to seek Jesus directly. In other words, sometimes we are going to have to go directly to the source ourselves.  We will need to go to God in prayer.  In our lives there might be strongholds that could only be removed through prayer.  There might be desires that could only be granted through prayer.  Maybe, the answer to what we are looking for is hidden in the prayer we have not yet said.  Therefore, its manifestation cannot be released because it has not yet been spoken into existence.  Remember, it was with words that God spoke the world into existence.

Today’s prayer

Lord,

Help us to pray with an exclamation point and not a question.  We ask that we truly believe that you are able to do all things and that you desire the very best for our lives.  Lord, help us with our unbelief.  Help us to have faith in faith.  Finally, we ask that you grant the desires of our heart, and your will be done.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen!

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