Sometimes it’s hard to pray, or I should say, sometimes it’s hard to believe that praying accomplishes much at all. It’s so easy to look around at the state of our nation and the world and think that prayer does so very little to change the physical world. It’s easy to think that we’ve simply been forgotten and that our prayers are unheard.
Mark 9:21-29 says:
“And Jesus asked his father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And he said, ‘From childhood, and it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him, but if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.’ And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”And he said to them, ‘This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.’”
I wonder if perhaps this passage isn’t simply meant to illustrate our personal struggles with faith. Maybe our world mirrors the state of the son and our hearts mirror that of the father, specifically regarding our prayer lives and our faith in prayer itself. Perhaps the most beautiful thing about this passage is that Jesus didn’t hear him say, “if you can,” and merely tell him that his faith is not enough and move on like so many of us might have. Jesus replied by bolstering his faith and meeting him to complete it, and then, Jesus healed his son!
Perhaps the most beautiful thing about this passage is that Jesus didn’t hear him say, “if you can,” and merely tell him that his faith is not enough…
I can’t count the number of times that I’ve felt like the father in this passage. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wondered how effective my own tears were, how much it mattered that I was crying out at all. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked around at our world that appears to be losing its faith like sand in a sieve and said to God, “I believe you can, but will you really move? I believe; help my unbelief.”
I have looked around so often at the darkness that seems to increasingly devour our nation day by day and, with a heavy heart, felt as if I were nothing more than a fly attempting to shoo away an airplane. I’ve seen the many eyes around me, ravaged by a pain that seems inescapable and wondered when they will find freedom, wondered why God doesn’t just go and heal them all.
I’ve felt as if I were nothing more than a fly attempting to shoo away an airplane.
And then, I have been reminded that though I may not be seeing an immediate result or a grand scale revival, it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Once again, I am reminded of all the small ways in which my prayers have come to pass, of the ways that God has proven himself faithful even when it seemed insignificant.
Dustin and I went to England once, because God very clearly told us to and confirmed it with multiple people (there’s a long story with this; message me if you care to know it.), and the whole time we were there, we looked for that opportunity that God had told us to go for. Dustin led worship at a church, and we ended up running into a YWAM (Youth With a Mission) group and helping them some, and it was great, but we still didn’t clearly know why we had been told to go until after we had returned home.
While we were there, God told Dustin to give what he had in his pocket to a cab driver(about $500 in our currency). It was crazy, not only because it was a lot of money, but also because God only allowed him to tell the guy that God wanted him to have the money, nothing else. It turns out the guy had just been stiffed a fare and was worried about paying for it out of pocket. He was blown away, to say the least. One month later, this cabbie was so affected by the act that he wasn’t able to rest, and he went back to our friend’s house that we were staying with “looking for that American couple” to return the money that he still had. They were able to invite him in for tea, and he got filled with the Holy Spirit right there in their house!
God wanted that man to know he was seen. God wants us to know that we are seen. He will literally send people across an ocean to let you know that you are seen! He will take the small moments of obedience in your life and turn them into a life changing moment for someone who needs it, even when you don’t expect it and all because someone simply prayed.
God will literally send people across an ocean to let you know that you are seen.
Moments like these remind me that God will do the things He says He will. He will hear our prayers, and He will answer them, even when it seems that the silence of His voice is deafening.
Moments like these make me believe that while I may not see a huge change in the world, God is still speaking to people, especially those with the confidence to do and say things that may make them look foolish. Our prayers for change in the world are doing something, even if we don’t see them working instantly or obviously. God is still moving, and He’s still using our prayers to do it. We may not ever shout from the rooftops or lead a grand crusade for the gospel, but God is still ready to reveal His heart to all of us.
There is no insignificant place or call in God’s kingdom. God is still working, and each of us have a place in that; each of us have a call to be used and to pray, despite our unbelief. We often ask for great change with our weak faith, but we must also cast our unbelief on Jesus to do the work, because like in the case of the boy, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” We must have faith that even our weakest prayers are heard and do, in fact, matter.
Each of us have a call to be used and to pray, despite our unbelief.
Many times when we ask God to move, we want some spectacle that blows everyone away so that He can’t be denied, but from observing how God so often uses people and from reading how Jesus worked Himself, He seems far more interested in the individual’s heart. He seems far more interested in His power being made perfect in our weakness. He is telling us to pray no matter the level of our belief, so that He might complete our faith and say to our world, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
He’s telling us to pray so that His healing can begin.