Jesus and three disciples came down from a literal mountain top experience (his transfiguration) back to the lowlands of heart-breaking need.
A father had brought his demonized son to the disciples, the ones Jesus left down in the valley, but they couldn’t overpower the evil spirit.
“O, unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” (Matthew 17:17 NIV)
After the Lord cast out the demon, his disciples privately asked him, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” His answer? “Because you have so little faith.” He said even a mustard seed would’ve dwarfed their faith. (Matthew 17:20-21 NIV)
It’s obvious their faith failed, even though Jesus previously “gave them authority to drive out evil spirits” (Matthew 10:1). They heard Jesus’ words, but they didn’t stick. When the devil showed up, their faith collapsed.
Yet, there’s another factor that Mark’s gospel adds to the mix. He records another part of Jesus’ answer to their question – “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
He said, “This kind can only come out by prayer.” (Mark 9:29 NIV)
Did you know that even Jesus’ own miracles were backed up by a sturdy, disciplined prayer life? Just before he commanded Lazarus to come out of the grave, he prayed, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” (John 11:41 NIV)
He’d been praying, maybe for a long time, to see this miracle happen, just like the time he prayed all night long before he walked on the Sea of Galilee. (Matthew 14:22-27)
Quite often our faith failures expose a hidden prayer failure.
Lord, teach us to pray!