The Disciples Are Helpless And Ineffective

I once heard the story of an organist who was getting ready to play as the church service began. When he put his hands on the keys there was no sound. Everyone knew something was wrong, so the preacher quickly got up and led in prayer. The janitor was aware of the fact that … More


A great multitude of people surrounds Jesus who have been disputing with the scribes (vv. 14-16). When they see Jesus they are amazed and come running to greet Him. This is a very touching scene as you see a father watch his boy being torn apart by evil forces and he begs Jesus for help (vv. 17-22). Jesus had come down from the mountaintop to find His own chosen followers baffled, helpless and powerless. The father had gone to the disciples asking them to cast a demon out of his son, but they couldn’t. What a tragedy. These words could be written over many churches today - “and they could not.” We are living in a world that is sinking in sin and desperately needs Jesus, and the world looks at the church and says, “They could not.”

The man had now come to Jesus with, “Help me if you can” and it was as if Jesus said, “The cure of your boy depends not on me but on you” (vv. 23-27). It sometimes happens, people get disappointed in some church or some servant of God, just as in this case. When that happens they need to go beyond the church or the servant to the Master of the church who is Christ Himself. When the disciples were by themselves they asked Jesus the cause of their failure (v. 28). In essence His reply was that they didn’t live close enough to God (v. 29). He answered them quite simply by saying that this kind of cure demanded prayer. (The added words, “and fasting,” are omitted in the oldest manuscripts). God may have given us a gift, but unless we maintain close contact with Him we may become only a person of words and not a person of power.


To approach anything in the spirit of hopelessness is to make it hopeless, but to approach it in the spirit of faith is to make it a possibility. If I am going to be a person who has God’s power in my life I certainly need to be a person of prayer. I need to consider what specific steps I can take this week to improve my prayer life.

Mark 9:14-29 (English Standard Version)

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