MARK 9:28-29: “When Jesus went into a house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we force the spirit out of the boy?” He told them, “This kind of spirit can be forced out only by prayer.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: Have you ever felt powerless? Perhaps you have just faced a great obstacle or challenge, only to walk away in defeat. You ask yourself – Why did this happen? Why was I so powerless in this situation?
Can you imagine how the 9 disciples felt, who were left behind when Jesus, Peter, James, and John went up to the mountain where Jesus was transfigured before them? They were left behind, with no idea when Jesus would return. There they were, without Jesus, and then they were faced with a great challenge. A man, with a son who was demon possessed, came to the 9 disciples and asked them to cast out the demon. They had done this before. It should not be a problem. Except – they failed.
When Jesus came down the mountain with Peter, James, and John, He was greeted with this scene. A large crowd around the 9 disciples, and the man with the demon possessed son asks Jesus,
- “…Teacher, I brought you my son. He is possessed by a spirit that won’t let him talk. Whenever the spirit brings on a seizure, it throws him to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes exhausted. I asked your disciples to force the spirit out, but they didn’t have the power to do it.” (Mark 9:17-18 GW)
Jesus was distressed at the disciple’s, and the crowd’s lack of faith. Jesus then casts out the demon, the boy is restored, and Jesus retires into a house with His disciples. The disciples understandably ask Him – “Why couldn’t we cast it out?” Jesus’ answer perhaps left them more puzzled than resolved. Jesus said – “This kind of spirit can be forced out only by prayer.” What did Jesus mean?
To understand this statement, we must first contrast what was taking place between the two groups. Jesus, Peter, James, and John were abiding in the presence of God on the mountain. The 9 disciples were huddling together at the foothill. It is probable that the 9 disciples were not holding a prayer service. They were quickly intercepted by a crowd, and were faced with the awesome reality – NO PRESENCE…NO POWER! Jesus was not prescribing a prayer ritual, or special type of prayer meeting to cast out demons. Jesus was calling the 9 disciples into an abiding relationship with God, through the Holy Spirit, as they continued in prayer. It is only in this abiding power that the strongholds of the enemy can be broken.
- “Then he replied, “This is the word the LORD spoke to Zerubbabel: You won’t ⌊succeed⌋ by might or by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Armies.” (Zechariah 4:6 GW)
How often do I make the same mistake made by the 9 disciples? How often do I find myself reaching for power, only to find out that I am empty? And why am I empty? It is because I have not been spending time in His Presence, through daily meditation upon His Word, and intimate communion with Him through prayer. Although the text does not tell us the 9 disciples were not abiding in prayer during the time Jesus was on the mountain, it can be inferred by Jesus’ remarks to their question. As we look upon the ministry of Jesus, one thing was constant in His life, He always took time away to be alone with the Father, to abide in the Spirit, to meditate on the Word, and to abide in prayer. Jesus knew the awesome truth – NO PRESENCE…NO POWER!
Lord, draw me daily to Your heart. Help me to hunger for the intimate time of fellowship in Your Spirit as I meditate upon the Word, abide in prayer, and live through worship. Help me to daily walk in the POWER OF YOUR PRESENCE!
In Jesus Name!