Teaching 14: Some Things Only Change Through Prayer

Some Things Only Change Through Prayer
For today's post, the written summary is first, and you will find the video at the bottom of the post.

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The backstory for today's passage:  Jesus, Peter, James, and John have just come down from the mountain of transfiguration. They have just met back up with some of the other disciples to discover that these disciples are having some trouble in their ministry. Specifically, there is a boy who needs healing from an "evil spirit," and the disciples, even though they have been successfully driving out evil presences before this, are not able to drive the foul spirit out from this boy.  

So with this background, here is the passage for today:

When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." 

The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, "He's dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn't we drive it out?" He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer."

Why couldn't the disciples drive out this particular demon? Jesus answered, "This kind can come out only by prayer." What is Jesus' underlying assumption, then? Simple -- the disciples had not been praying, nor had the gone to God in prayer to help them with this specific task. 

We know from other accounts of Jesus's healings, that lack of belief had been a cause of failure for healings to occur. It seems that somewhere along the way -- after Jesus had left them for awhile to go up on the mountain for the transfiguration -- the rest of these disciples soon lost connection with their source of power -- God. Perhaps they had been so continuously successful in casting out demons for a period of time,  that they started doing the work in their own strength. Perhaps they were just "going through the motions"  of healings and casting out spirits. 

In prior accounts, we know that the lack of belief led to the failure to rid an evil spirit. Now, Jesus implies that, if the disciples had prayed for their situation, they would have been successful. We can assume that, most likely, the disciples hadn't been spending much time in prayer during the days that Jesus was away from them. 

Over and over again, Jesus both teaches and demonstrates that time spent in prayer is absolutely crucial in order to be close to God, in order to have the power of God at work in one's life, and in order for one to be able to do His work. 

So this brings us to these questions:  

What areas of our lives have we not prayed about in awhile? 

Are we honestly praying as much as we should?

What problems are we facing now, or are we anticipating facing soon?

What if our problem is the type that can only be overcome by prayer?

From this reading we see that Jesus clearly states that there are some types of problems that can only be helped by prayer. Yet, he didn't specify exactly which types of diseases, evil influences, or other issues were considered "prayer absolutely required" types of problems. On the other hand, we know that all problems. large and small, can be greatly helped by prayer. So for the logically minded, what is the obvious action to take for all of our problems? Let's look at the two propostions as we will then see the obvious conclusion. 

1. All of our problems can be helped through prayer. 
2. Some of our problems can only be helped through prayer. 

So if we have any problem, large or small, what should be our first response to help it or solve it?   

Yes, it's that simple. Prayer. Always the answer is prayer. Prayer never hurts us. Prayer always helps us. We already know this. We know this well. So why don't we do it? Why don't we pray, every single time over ever single problem - big or small? I can't answer that for each of us; however we can each answer it for ourselves. Here we go; fill in the blank below:

Sometimes I don't pray about problems or concerns in my life because ________________________. 

Here are two ways that I personally filled in that blank:

Sometimes I don't pray about problems or concerns in my life because-- the problem was of my own making, so I just assume that since I caused the problem alone, I can resolve the problem alone. 

Sometimes I don't pray about problems or concerns in my life because -- I assume that God already knows about the problem and I don't understand why I really need to pray about it, if He already knows.

And in my responses above, I see that once again, my thoughts and assumptions are not in line with what God has revealed. Once again, my thoughts are not His thoughts and my ways are not His ways.

My thoughts:  I caused the problem alone. So I should solve the problem alone, rather than bother God with my foolishness.

God's thoughts:  You are never alone. (Joshua 1:5; 1:9; Matthew 28:20) Cast all your concerns onto me; because I care for you and I will help you. (1 Peter 5:7)

My thoughts: God already knows about this problem and so I don't understand why I need to actually "go through the motions" to pray about it. 

God's thoughts:  You have been taught to pray about all your concerns; and I want you to pray about everything. (1 Peter 5:7) Your decision to pray is a choice which demonstrates your trust in me and your willingness to follow and obey what you have been taught.  Your decision to pray is a demonstration of your faith and belief. (Hebrews 11:6) The prayer of a faithful and righteous person has great power. (James 5:16) (Just assuming that I already know what you want -- has not so much power.) 

So what did you write in your blank? When you do not pray about all your concerns, what is your underlying reason why not? Let's take all those reasons to task. Let's identify the areas where our thoughts are not in line with His. Let's meditate on His thoughts, allow them to replace our own -- and let us be the beneficiaries of His answered prayer, in all things, all concerns --  big and small. 


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