A recent study was conducted by a car insurance company revealing that the average person drives over 250 extra miles every year due to being lost. This is primarily the result of being too stubborn to ask for help and instead, attempting to figure out the way ourselves. The reality is when we refuse to ask for help, 10 miles in the wrong direction results in a 20-mile misstep once we backtrack and return to the right route. Not only can we get lost while on a journey physically, but the truth is we can often be unsure where we are to go spiritually. Whether it is navigating problems in life, needing wisdom in a situation, or activating our faith to believe God for more, if we are not careful, we can find ourselves stubbornly depending on our own strength and limited knowledge instead of asking for guidance.
In Mark 9:14-29 we find the disciples in a similar situation. Jesus had sent the disciples with His authority to cast out demons, heal the sick, and preach the message of repentance. The disciples were successful at the outset of their mission but then encounter a demon they are unable to remove from its control on a young boy. They had commanded demons to leave before, so why was this child different?
The disciples did not lack the authority; the object of their dependence had shifted. They began to operate in their own limited power instead of God’s supernatural power. An increase of God’s power, His presence, and His authority in our lives is not a one-and-done event. It is a daily filling. Each day we need to stop and ask for supernatural direction from God and be re-filled with His presence.
One of the primary benefits of fasting and prayer is that it increases our dependence on God. It boosts our faith to believe that anything is possible and gives us the power to activate the authority that God has promised us. Be encouraged that God’s empowering presence is available to you and He is able to overcome any situation when we depend on Him!
Mark 6:6b-13 (NLT)
Then Jesus went from village to village, teaching the people. And he called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits. He told them to take nothing for their journey except a walking stick—no food, no traveler’s bag, no money. He allowed them to wear sandals but not to take a change of clothes.
“Wherever you go,” he said, “stay in the same house until you leave town. But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.”
So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil.
Mark 9:14-29 (NLT)
When they returned to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd surrounding them, and some teachers of religious law were arguing with them. When the crowd saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet him.
“What is all this arguing about?” Jesus asked.
One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”
Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.
“How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.
He replied, “Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”
“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” he said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!”
Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up. Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?” Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”