(8 of 9 in a series on “Why do bad things happen to good people?”)
In Mark 9:14-29, we have a story of demon-possession that includes a long conversation between Jesus, a distraught father, and the disciples. As Jesus returned from the mountain of His transfiguration, he found a crowd gathered. While He was away, His disciples had failed in their attempt to drive a demon out of a child and the desperate father turned to Jesus. After describing the child’s pain, the father pleads, ” ‘But if you [Jesus] can do anything, take pity on us and help us!’ And Jesus said to him, ‘ “If you can?” All things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the boy’s father cried out, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief.’ When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.’ After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, ‘He is dead!’ But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up. When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, ‘Why could we not drive it out?’ And He said to them, ‘This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer‘ ” (Mk 9:25-29).
Our first weapon in our counterattack is our prayers. An absolute requirement in overcoming Satan’s evil schemes against us is prayer. And it is prayer saturated with faith. Notice in verse 23 of our passage, Jesus places great importance on the father’s faith, “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mk 9:23). This leads to our second weapon in our counterattack; our faith.
Faith takes the spotlight in the Matthew account of this same story. In Matthew chapter 17, Jesus gives a slightly different answer when the disciples quiz Him about their failure to drive out the demon. “Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ And He said to them, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you’ ” (Mt 17:19-20).
Here the emphasis is on the weapon of faith. In the Mark passage, the emphasis was on the weapon of prayer. Both are critical in our counterattack on Satan’s evil interventions in our lives. I know it sounds simple, but it is really, really critical and must be put into practice. When we interpret the bad things that are happening to us as attacks from Satan, we have a counterattack strategy. We don’t get angry, we don’t blame others, we don’t lose hope, we don’t abandon our commitments. We fight Satan’s attacks with prayer and faith. So when faced with the devil’s roadblocks:
- Pray for deliverance.
- Pray for strength.
- Pray for lessons learned.
- Pray for God to intervene.
- Believe that God exists and lives inside you.
- Believe that He hears you when you pray.
- Believe that God is good.
- Believe that you see “the glory of God in the face of Jesus”.
Beyond these short points there is much more about prayer and faith in the New Testament to bring into the picture and I pray you discover these things as you study God’s Word and allow it to impact your life. Let me close with two verses that highlight our role in the fight.
“With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph 6:18).
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb 11:6).
Prayer and Faith. Our weapons of power against the dark enemy; the author of evil.