Only by Prayer
Mark 9:28-29 (ESV) -- And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
“Does prayer change things?” This is a question I’m asked as a pastor by people sorting out theologically how God can be in control and our prayers make a difference. A read through the Bible shows clearly that God is sovereign over the affairs of the world. He is not merely reactive, but orchestrating eternal plans designed by His infinite wisdom. However, reading through the Bible also reveals that prayer is not only a form of communicating with God, but a way by which God responds and acts. In other words, prayers can move God to action.
Our passage today highlights the reality of the power of prayer. The disciples of Jesus attempted to heal someone oppressed by a demonic spirit. They attempted to cast it out but were unable to do so. They approached Jesus about why they couldn’t do it. The passage says, “And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ And he said to them, ‘This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.’”
Jesus’ answer to his disciples when they inquired about their inability to cast out the evil spirit was that this kind could only be driven out by prayer. “This kind” may be referring to the kind of demon or this kind of affliction. Either way the message is clear: Prayer is necessary.
What does Jesus mean by this? He means that this kind of ministry work demands God’s power and intervention. They do not possess the power to achieve this goal. Only God can do it. And they must access God in prayer. Prayer is needed for many other things as well. We need to develop the habit and practice of asking God to move in power instead of leaning on ourselves.
Reflection & Journal:
- How should believers understand prayer in light of God’s sovereignty?
- Why are the disciples unable to cast out this evil spirit? How will prayer change that?
- What does your habit of prayer look like each day? How can you grow in this practice?
Sign up to receive our daily devotions in your inbox here!