We often think of great faith as something that happens spontaneously so that we can be used for a miracle or healing. However, the greatest faith of all, and the most effective, is to live day by day trusting Him. It is trusting Him so much that we look at every problem as an opportunity to see His work in our life. --Rick Joyner: ((born 1949: heads Morning Star Ministries in Jackson, Mississippi)
Gospel Text: (MK 9:14-29)
As Jesus came down from the mountain with Peter, James, John
and approached the other disciples,
they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them.
Immediately on seeing him,
the whole crowd was utterly amazed.
They ran up to him and greeted him.
He asked them, "What are you arguing about with them?"
Someone from the crowd answered him,
"Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit.
Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down;
he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid.
I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so."
He said to them in reply,
"O faithless generation, how long will I be with you?
How long will I endure you? Bring him to me."
They brought the boy to him.
And when he saw him,
the spirit immediately threw the boy into convulsions.
As he fell to the ground, he began to roll around
and foam at the mouth.
Then he questioned his father,
"How long has this been happening to him?"
He replied, "Since childhood.
It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him.
But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."
Jesus said to him,
"'If you can!' Everything is possible to one who has faith."
Then the boy's father cried out, "I do believe, help my unbelief!"
Jesus, on seeing a crowd rapidly gathering,
rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it,
"Mute and deaf spirit, I command you:
come out of him and never enter him again!"
Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out.
He became like a corpse, which caused many to say, "He is dead!"
But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up.
When he entered the house, his disciples asked him in private,
"Why could we not drive the spirit out?"
He said to them, "This kind can only come out through prayer."
In our Gospel reading today, the disciples have failed in ministry, and the father of the possessed boy is wondering if Jesus can grant his request. Both situations are good examples of why our own faith wavers.
Like the disciples, we see failures as reason to doubt our ability to do the works of God. Like the father, we wonder if God really has enough power or enough compassion or even enough time to notice us and answer our prayers.
In the father's response to Jesus, why did he say "if"? How often do we pray with an "if" attitude? Can Jesus help us whenever we ask him to? Of course he can -- if what we seek is within God's will. Ahh, but there's another "if"! So let's turn the "if" onto ourselves. IF we know God, we know his will (it's clearly explained in the scriptures and Church teachings) and we only want what he wants. Right?
Do we doubt Christ's compassion? Do we think he's not kind and caring enough to answer our prayers? Of course he is: God is Love, and no matter how undeserving we are, he is good to us. It's impossible for him to be uncaring. Even his discipline is good for us, although we might not think so at the time. Therefore, whenever we pray, we should say to him: "Thank you for being so good to me. I do believe; help me to overcome any unbelief that's still within me."
Whenever the "IF" word shows up in our prayers, we should ask ourselves why. Are we focused on the evidence of potential disaster or on the goodness of God? If our eyes are not on Jesus and all the good that he's already done for us, our prayers will be answered in unexpected ways and we won't realize what he's done. We'll miss his solutions to our problems! Or at least we'll be miserable waiting for it to happen.
Understand what Jesus meant by: "This kind of spirit you can only drive out by prayer." Surely the disciples had prayed as they tried to cast out the demon. Even a simple "Get out!" with the authority given to us by Jesus is a genuine prayer. What did the disciples do wrong?
Our prayers are merely noise if we're disbelieving that God truly cares. To prevent wavering between belief and unbelief, our prayers must be more than words. Our prayers need to be a way of life.
We cannot spend a few minutes a day talking to God and then expect to feel his presence when a crisis hits. We have to remain consciously aware, moment by moment, of his constant love, his constant nearness, his constant guidance.
True prayer is a life lived connected to Jesus, imitating Jesus, and being the presence of Jesus for others. In a lifestyle of prayer, our hearts are constantly turning to God, even while our thoughts are busy with the tasks of the day.
To develop this lifestyle, pray each day: "Jesus, I do believe that you care about me; help me to keep my eyes on you."