The last two weeks of August, I spent camping along the North shore of Lake Superior. Excitement filled me like a natural helium…I’m sure I was floating two feet off the ground. But my balloons quickly popped. Very rarely is there a convenient time to lock your keys in your car. The first evening I stopped to buy some groceries in Two Harbors. When I got back to my car and reached for the door handle, the door didn’t respond the way I expected it to. No squeaky hinges opening. It was locked—as were the other doors. They were still locked when I walked around the car another five times to check each door again. The simple truth is I could jiggle the handle all I wanted, but without the key, I wasn’t getting in.
Many times in life we rush towards our big decisions, but we are destined to crash into a closed door because we forgot the key. Prayer is our spiritual key. Perhaps we see no better example of this then in Mark 9 starting at verse 14.
Jesus was walking and in the distance he saw a large crowd. In the middle of the crowd were some of his disciples, and the religious leaders were arguing with them. When the people see Jesus in the distance they run to him.
“What are you arguing with them about?” he asks.
A man answers Jesus, “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.”
“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me” (vs. 17-19).
When the demon sees Jesus, it becomes violent; throwing the boy to the ground…he is convulsing, rolling around, and foaming at the mouth. When Jesus asks how long this has been happening, we learn that this is a normal day in the life of the boy—he has been tormented by this demon since he was a young child. It is such a serious situation that the demon has actually attempted taking the boy’s life by throwing him in fire and water. The father’s plea is desperate,
“…if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (vs. 22).
Do you find yourself approaching Jesus the same way? “Jesus, if you can, could you help me?” Do we attempt to limit God-sized answers with human sized expectation? Do we really believe that God can answer our prayers?
“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus responds. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
I think there is a lot we can learn about belief in the father’s response.
“I do believe, but help me not to doubt.”
We often associate belief with our heads—beliefs are something we think. But our actions, behaviors and choices show our true beliefs. Though it was hard for this man’s head to ‘believe’ that Jesus could help, he chose to trust.
After Jesus drives out the demon his disciples ask him why they could not. They have driven out others, so why not this one? This demon was different—it was deaf and mute. Jesus said that this kind can only be cast out by prayer.
Just as this boy was held captive by this deaf and mute demon, Satan holds the world captive to his lies, deafening their ears to truth. We can be captive to the lies as well. Sometimes we choose not to listen to truth. It's easier to believe the lies. Prayer is the key to freedom.