When We Forget to Pray

In Mark 6, Jesus had sent the disciples out two by two to proclaim the need for repentance. He had given them not only specific instructions but also “authority over the unclean spirits” (Mark 6:7). Because of this, they had developed a great track record: “They cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them” (v 13).

Considering their previous success in the ministry that Jesus had given them, it’s easy to see why the disciples were surprised and confused when their efforts to help a boy with an evil spirit proved futile, until Jesus arrived and stepped in to restore him (Mark 9:14-27). Perhaps in asking, “Why could we not cast it out?” the disciples expected Jesus to give them some sort of secret knowledge. Sometimes that is what we too believe, misunderstanding Jesus’ reply as saying that a very special ability or ministry is needed. But that is not the case. Jesus is simply reminding His disciples, and us, of this: You didn’t succeed because you forgot to do something very important: you didn’t pray.

In their success, the disciples had gotten comfortable. They had lost track of the fact that it was only because of God’s immense mercy and power that they could do anything. They were still in Christ’s company, yet they were already forgetting. They needed a reminder.

Sometimes we need to be reminded as well. To imagine that God’s power is simply at our disposal and under our control is tantamount to unbelief; it’s trusting in ourselves rather than trusting in God. Prayer, by contrast, is ultimately aligning our will with God’s. It acknowledges that God must work wonders because we ourselves can’t. And until we rely on God’s grace, we’re unable to intervene in anyone’s circumstances and make an eternal difference.

There are many reasons why we don’t pray. We don’t think we have to. We don’t want to. We overestimate our own abilities. Each is an absolute presumption on our part. When we try to do things on our own, we will often find ourselves failing miserably. So the next time you’re tempted to figure something out yourself, or to assume that God’s power will bring you through because it did last time (and that “next time” is likely to be today!), consider what the disciples had forgotten and what Jesus reminded them of: pray to the one who has all the power, showers us with mercy, and deserves all the glory. For when you pray and watch what God does, you discover that He does far more than you had even dared ask or thought to imagine (Ephesians 3:20).


Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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