I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time—waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God—it changes me. —William Nicholson, Shadowlands
How is it possible that one verse tells how Jesus gave the disciples power and authority to drive out evil spirits, but just a few verses later, we read about their failure to do just that?
The disciples had the same question. A father pleads with Jesus to heal his demon-possessed son after the disciples were unable to do it. After the healing, the disciples ask, “Why couldn’t we drive [the demon] out?”(Mark 9:28).
After all, up to this point, they’d had a 100% success rate. From village to village, they managed to cast out demons and heal diseases in every case except this one. This boy and this demon hadn’t responded.
Jesus answered His disciples, “This kind can come out only by prayer” (Mark 9:29).
His answer implies the disciples hadn’t prayed. What is prayer?
Prayer is surrendering oneself to Jesus.
Prayer is saying, “Jesus, do this.”
Prayer is asking God to work.
Obviously, the disciples were trying to do the work of God. But that was precisely the problem: They were trying to do the work of God.
Jesus gets impatient when we try to do things that only He can do. Self-trust robs us of the opportunity to experience Him ministering through us. Not only that, but if we try to do what only He can do, then people don’t get what they really need.
Jesus did heal the boy and gave him back to his father, and the crowds “were all amazed at the greatness of God” (Luke 9:43).
This is the difference between doing something in our own strength and doing it by His strength. God working through us points others toward His greatness, not ours.
Supernatural work requires the supernatural One.
God, for all of these supernatural needs, I turn to You and ask, “Do through me what only You can do.” Amen.
Learn more from Pete’s teaching on Luke, What Will Jesus Do?