Jesus had taken Peter, James and John up on the mountain and he gave them a glimpse of his power. Meanwhile the other disciples were having a bad day (Mark 9:14-29). A man had brought his demon-possessed son to be healed. But the disciples were unable to provide any relief. The crowd was uneasy. The disciples were sweating. And if this wasn’t bad enough, the skeptical scribes had shown up to pile on. They wanted to discredit Jesus and his followers. The disciples were getting a taste of what ministry would be like when Jesus wasn’t physically present.
Jesus returns to find a chaotic scene. He asks for an explanation and then confronts their lack of faith – “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you.” They all felt the sting of his rebuke. The scribes were still antagonistic – even after seeing Jesus perform so many previous miracles. The boy’s father was already losing hope. And the disciples didn’t get it either. It was their lack of faith that prevented them from being able to help this boy.
Of course, Jesus responded to the small faith of the father and healed the boy. And after the crowd went away, Jesus debriefed with the disciples. They wanted to know why they had not been able to cast this demon out. Jesus replied that this kind of demon can only be driven out by prayer. Their problem was their lack of faith. And the solution was prayer. They should have called out to God, recognized their weakness and pleaded with him to do what they could not do.
Are you a person of faith? Or are you part of a faithless generation? It is certainly important to come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. But are you exercising faith? Are you living by faith? Are you simply attempting to live in your own power, dependent on your own ingenuity? Or are you attempting things for God that would be possible unless God should intervene? In this narrative, Jesus reminds us that one of the ways we exercise faith is through prayer.
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