Lack of Prayer
June 13, 2021
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not drive it out?" And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. ["But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."] (Matthew 17:19-21).
The failure of the disciples to cast out the demon in the boy was attributed to (1) the littleness of their faith, and (2) their lack of prayer and fasting. You will note that “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” is in brackets. This means the translators of our English Bible believe this verse is not genuine with Jesus - that it was added by someone later. This obviously is not the case since Jesus said it in Mark 9:29, and no brackets were used there.
The Apostle James wrote (James 5:16-18), The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.
We don’t know all the details surrounding this event, but I would not be surprised if, while the 9 disciples were waiting for Jesus, Peter, James, and John to return from Mt. Tabor, the father of the demon possessed by confronted them with the issue so suddenly they didn’t have time to pray. Or maybe they were taken aback by the violent display of the demonic possession. We don’t know. But the comment of Jesus indicates that the lack of prayer was a contributing factor in their failure to help the boy.
Prayer is not offered in order to change God’s mind about things. Prayer is offered that we might know the mind of God in things. If anything, prayer changes us, not God. We understand God’s will and ways through prayer. We are instructed how to proceed in life, in difficulties, in opportunities through prayer. Speaking with God in prayer is as important as a platoon leader speaking with his company commander.
How important is prayer? The disciples found this out when they failed to pray while trying to minister to the demon possessed boy. Their ministry was fruitless. Their embarrassment and frustration was abundant.
“Lord Jesus, teach us to pray as You taught the disciples to pray - not just the form of prayer, but persistence in prayer. Help us to realize that prayerlessness leads to spiritual barrenness and fruitlessness. May we be a people who pray without ceasing. To the success in the ongoing work of Your Kingdom I ask, Amen.”