Prayer’s potency

After the miraculous transfiguration event (Mk 9 & Mt 17), Jesus and the inner circle of disciples return from the mountain to find the other disciples facing a tough situation: a father had brought demon-possessed boy to them, but they could not heal him. Jesus rebukes the evil spirit and heals the boy.

There is a fine, two-part lesson on the power of prayer, when the disciples ask why they could not heal the lad. Listen to what Jesus told them —

Mark 9
28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
[some translations say “much prayer” or “prayer and fasting”]

and Matthew 17
19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Both passages refer to the same event, and speak of prayer from two angles.

First, in reading Mark’s account, Jesus tell us that prayer is sufficient for the toughest times. When you meet a really tough opponent or obstacle, you do not need to change tactics or abandon praying! It’s at this very event that Jesus speaks of pray moving mountains! Praying is proper — and more praying is often the key.

Second, when you read Matthew’s account of the situation, Jesus looks behind the scene to the faith of the ones praying. He says that little (or weak) faith can fail to tap the power of prayer. Remember that Jesus often spoke to His disciples about their weak faith, and this label does not mean they were not believers; simply that their faith was only making small connections with the great power of God and the potential of prayer. Rather, Jesus aims to teach (and provoke) believers into greater exercise of faith.

In fact, I would suggest that most of the challenges we face, and over which we pray, are designed (in part) to grow our faith and our grasp of the power of prayer.

Recap: (1) Do not under estimate the potency of prayer. It is the first and best option for getting the help of God in any situation. (2) Do not attempt to wield prayer without genuine faith in Christ Jesus — and always seek to grow in your faith in the Lord.

yours by divine mercy,

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