Mark 9:28-29 Jesus’ disciples ask Jesus a question we sometimes ask, Why couldn’t we… and Jesus answers in v29 this kind… by nothing but prayer
Now this is an instance where a man came to Jesus, was interrupted along the way by the disciples who tried to do what he was coming to Jesus to have done and they couldn’t. The man had a son who had spirits that caused seizures and other things. The disciples tried unsuccessfully to cast them out.
Now you must back up – Jesus was on the “Mount of Transfiguration” with Peter, James, and John – when they came down, there was an argument going on. Jesus asked “what are you arguing about?” And the Father says, notice, “I brought him to YOU”. Don’t miss that, Jesus had NOT sent the disciples out to do things, but they seem to have interjected themselves into a situation, attempting to do what Jesus does. But couldn’t. When they asked “why couldn’t we“. Jesus says “this kind can come out by nothing but prayer” – Some manuscripts add, “and fasting”. But Robertson suggests this was a “late addition to explain the failure”. The oldest best manuscripts don’t have the addition of “fasting”. But the point seems to be that you can’t just run around and “do what you do”, or operate in your S.O.P. The thought, I’m sure, in adding fasting is that the spiritual practice of fasting changes everything. When we fast, our entire focus is: God, Separation from the normal, Seeking God’s Will and Purpose, Seeking God’s glory, Finding God’s intervention and his way.
But isn’t that the purpose of prayer? Well yes it is, but often we need fasting to cause us to do those things. Prayer is often changed, but us, into a “laundry list”. As I often say, we pray like WE are the VINE and HE is our Branch. “Dear Lord, I need x,y,z and a,b,c and sort of p,d,q, In Jesus’ name Amen.” As if his job is to carry out our desires.
Well, the old acrostic – A.C.T.S. in short or long format, is a good way to get to what God wants. If you don’t know that’s Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication, in THAT order.
Just like worship, isn’t worship if it doesn’t cost us something; service isn’t service if we are not certain God wants it, and he is the one who gets the glory, if we don’t need his power, if we don’t have his timing, then we aren’t serving HIM. It’s like going to someone’s house and saying, “I just painted your house, it’s beautiful red, just here to serve you.” And the person says, “well, I just painted it my favorite color blue last week, and besides, it’s plumbing work that I needed done.” That’s NOT service.
Jesus shows up and sees the inability, the lack of faith, and says, v19 you unbelieving generation, How long…?” What are we failing to believe? His Presence, Personhood, Power, and Purpose. That gets in the way of our faith and actions.
How do we become full of faith? It starts on our knees in prayer, spending time, listening, pondering, knowing his purpose, and talking to him.
So go back to that acrostic – you perhaps know it but think with me
Adoration – praise him for Who his. Love him for what he has done. Be amazed at what he can do. Just focus on him.
Confession – If I don’t remove my sin, he doesn’t hear my prayer David say. It hinders him from hearing and seeing me. It hinders my ability to hear and see him.
Thanksgiving – Celebrate what he has done. It puts into perspective what I think I need. If he never does another thing for me, he has done some much and I have so much.
Supplication – NOW, I’m in position to ask, hear, believe, and act. and then v23 says everything is possible for one who believes.
It’s not just about believing that he can, but that he wants to. It seems that the disciples doubted, or it wasn’t God’s plan for them to do, or even they weren’t surrendered to the power and to the glory of God, but something was out of order. The order comes in the prayer room.
Everything is possible, but not everything is profitable
Everything is possible, but not everything is prudent
Everything is possible, but not all things are in God’s will for me now, and Prayer is where I hear, believe, and then act according to the will, power, and pleasure of God.
A.Lincoln at his second inauguration said, fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away, YET, if God wills that it continue…
Lincoln understood that prayer is NOT a magic potion or formula to get what we want – but it is an alignment process of our will with God’s will, of our actions with his, removing all barriers that he may be glorified.
Lincoln continued, “… if God wills that it continue until all wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether”
So, we come to the Lord with A.C.T.S. prayers and we listen, and we respond as he leads. We understand that God always answers, but 3 ways: Sometimes he says “yes” – so move and live in it. Sometimes he says, “NO” – so move on trusting God’s goodness and his loving answer in the negative. Other times, he says, “Not Yet” – so live in the “until” – keep praying, keep being faithful, keep trusting, keep serving, do the last thing he told you to do. Keep your head up, heart loving, hope shining, hold on, UNTIL, knowing that God is Good.
Pray on Saint
Follow on Child
God is able, and you are able to go with him – but the great things only come with prayer