And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd about them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed, and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” 7 And one of the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a dumb spirit; and wherever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him; and when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.
And Jesus asked his father, “How long has he had this?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” (Mark 9:14-29)
A very long time ago, I was taught the Texas two-step. I must admit I was enamored of it. It was fun. Its steps taught me the fox-trot, its steps are part of polka (a two-step with a hop) and a jitterbug. Once you learn it, you can adapt it to just about any popular dance.
So, what does the two step have top do with today’s scripture? Let’s explore that.
In this Gospel incident the disciples of Jesus brought disappointment to a pleading father because they failed to heal his epileptic son. Jesus’ response seemed stern; but it was really tempered with love and compassion. We see at once both Jesus’ dismay with the disciples’ lack of faith and his concern to meet the need of this troubled boy and his anguished father. Jesus recognized the weakness of the father’s faith and at the same time challenged him to pray boldly with expectant faith: “All things are possible to him who believes!”
Jesus, who came to the earth to help us to believe in God, called the man out on his frail faith: “‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.” And the father replied, “I do believe, Lord. Help my unbelief!” It was his faith that brought him to come to Jesus in the first place, but he clearly needed more faith, and wasn’t afraid to ask for it. And Jesus worked the great miracle.
The first requirement for the miracle was true faith.
But there is a “second step” on the journey of faith. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD), in his commentary on this passage, reminds us that prayer and faith go together: “Where faith fails, prayer perishes. For who prays for that in which he does not believe? . So then in order that we may pray, let us believe, and let us pray that this same faith by which we pray may not falter.” The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit that we may have the confidence and boldness we need to ask our heavenly Father for his help and grace.
Jesus expressed it when he said: “This kind can only come out through prayer.” Jesus implied that it was not just his divine power that was necessary, a power he had already given when he sent them out to proclaim the Gospel, to heal the sick, cast out demons and even raise the dead. Persevering prayer was also needed.
This journey of faith that you and I have embarked on is a never-ending process. Life presents opportunities, challenges, moments to laugh and praise and moments to cry and possibly despair. The one constant is that our faith is there. We may walk away from it, we may wonder why its not stronger, we may even not be aware that it is there.
But the Lord left us the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is always within us., Guiding us, stirring our hearts, reminding us that our actions or words may not be in concert with God. The Spirit communicates with us every day.
Our communications back are our prayers. Prayers keep us in touch with the Holy Spirit. The more we practice our prayer, it becomes more natural. The more we build our daily prayer life, the stronger we become in following Him The stronger we are in our faith, the greater are our reserves of faith to guide us on our journey.
Faith and prayer. Two steps. Over and over again. It’s the key to living a life in concert with God.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, help my unbelief! Increase my faith and trust in your saving power. Give me confidence and perseverance, especially in prayer. And help me to bring your healing love and truth to those I meet”
The mighty works and signs which Jesus did demonstrate that the kingdom of God is present in him. These signs attest that the Father has sent him as the promised Messiah. They invite belief in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world. Jesus offers us the path to eternal life. If we truly have taken that into our hearts then every day should begin with a prayer of thanks no matter where we are on our faith journey or whatever life has given us