Prayer Focus: Saudi Arabia

Bible Reading: Matthew 17-18, Mark 9:2-50, Luke 9:28-56

Scripture:

14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them.15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.16″What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”19″You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”20  So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?””From childhood,” he answered.22″It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”23″‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.”27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. 28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”  (Mark 9: 17-29)

Observation:

Jesus has just come from the transfiguration, where he glows physically from the glory of the meeting with Elijah and Moses.  God audibly declares Jesus as his son and that he is pleased with him.  Then commands all who could hear to listen to what Jesus says.   Talk about a heavenly endorsement.  No clever metaphors, no riddles, the voice of God speaking.  This should clinch it, right?  This surely should be all the evidence that they need for belief, right?

Then when he comes down off the mountain, still glowing from the experience, he hears a fight breaking out.  The scene painted is that of a desperate father who has heard that there is a man who heals people, and he’s come to get help.  The impression I have – though it’s not stated this way – is that his desire for healing is what has brought him to the camp,  not because he’s a believer.  When the disciples could not heal his son, he demands to see Jesus.  (I think this is where things got heated), and Jesus steps into the scene asking what’s wrong.   But when approached, Jesus keys into the wording of the request, this is what clues him in to what’s going on in this father’s heart.  “If you can?” He repeats back to the boy’s father.  He makes the link between his own faith, and the miracle he’s asking Jesus to do.  “Everything is possible for one who believes.”  And he heals him.  Later, the disciples come and ask why they couldn’t throw out the demon, and Jesus tells them that this kind only comes out by prayer.

Application:

I struggled with this scripture, up to the last moments before hitting the “publish” button.  You see, I have a child who was diagnosed with epilepsy just this year.  I wrestle with why she would have this affliction, and like the parent in the scriptures, I pray for healing too.  The epilepsy hasn’t gone away.  The worry and fear chases each other in my mind.

While chewing this out loud for you I can hear the Holy Spirit keying in on the specific words I am using in describing my situation, in much the same way that Jesus did for the distraught father: I “struggle” instead of rest in Him.  I “wrestle” with “worry and fear”.  I know I shouldn’t.  I know better, but I do it any way.

So I read verse 29 over and over to myself and gain comfort.  “This kind comes out only by prayer.”  And that’s where I want to leave you, dear friend, in prayer.  When we are praying, we are in conversation with the one who gives us the fruits of the spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) and they are very things that pull us away from worry and fear.  Sometimes God has reasons that we don’t know for not healing, but in all times and places, God has called us to approach Him in faith,  asking and believing.

We leave the answers with Him.

Prayer:

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief.

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