Psalm 6:2 Be Merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint; Oh Lord, Heal me for my bones are in agony.
Read Mark 9:14-29 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet Him. What are you arguing with them about? He asked. A man in the crowd answered, teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not. Oh unbelieving generation, Jesus replied, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me. So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, How long has he been like this? From childhood, he answered. It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us. If you can? said Jesus. Everything is possible for him who believes. Immediately the boys father exclaimed, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! 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 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.*
*Some manuscripts say prayer and fasting – but it doesn’t appear that Jesus took time to fast before casting out this evil spirit…fasting would be a physical thing that we do ourselves and is not something that can enhance or add to the power of God. It can help us to concentrate on God more, or to make us “feel” more sincere, but God actually knows how sincere we are already so we are inevitably really fasting for our own sake. There are times when a person is inspired by the Holy Spirit to fast and pray and they should follow that leading in obedience to God. In that case it is the obedience which matters not the actual physical act of fasting.
When Jesus is told that the Disciples could not drive out the evil spirit his response is that the generation is disbelieving and how long shall he stay with them. This question is very serious and really needs some examination. Is Jesus talking to the crowd? or is he saying that his Disciples still lack belief?
If we look at Mark 6 there is an indication of the answer for us. Mark 6 tells us about Jesus’ visit to his hometown. As you can read, during that visit it says that due to the lack of faith in the town Jesus “could not” do any miracles there, except laying his hand on a few sick people and healing them. So it seems that Jesus was actually talking more to the townspeople in Mark 9, than to his Disciples. After all, if he were addressing his Disciples about their lack of faith, he would have spoken to them privately as he did in the end about why they couldn’t cast out the demon. So what we learn from Mark 6 and Mark 9 is that what is required for the working of God is simply belief that God can and will work. Please note that I am not saying that in every instance that we pray for the healing of a person that the healing will take place…sometimes the healing we wish for is not within God’s plans…sometimes there is a more important kind of healing that the person needs which is not always obvious to us. Perhaps a healing of a different nature.
Mark 6 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph,[a] Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.
So what kind of prayer would be required to cast out something like the demon in Mark 9? Perhaps a prayer that God would bolster the faith of the people who are needing and looking for his intervention, but are not daring to believe in the possibility of God doing what they ask. After all, the father of the boy recognized that Jesus was talking about him when he said that the generation was disbelieving…his response, “I do believe, help me to overcome my unbelief!” So what did the father believe? He believed that Jesus/God could and was able to help his son, but his unbelief was in whether Jesus/God would choose to help his son. His unbelief was based on years of trying different things to help his son…it was based on experience. Many times we are bound by our experience and that leads us to be in a state of unbelief. A miracle is a miracle by virtue of it happening despite our experience that “such things don’t normally happen.” Miracles are unbelievable incidents that is why they are greeted by such skepticism…our experience doesn’t want us to accept that this is possible…however, our spirit longs for the kind of childlike belief that it can. The good news is that once we acknowledge that we have a problem with our ability to believe, then we can pray for “help with our unbelief” and God will bolster the little bit of belief that we have and help us to believe with our whole heart. Then we start to see and know who God truly is in our lives…that is a true prayer of healing.