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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood



After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” (Mark 9:28,29, NIV)

The father had brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus and left rejoicing. The disciples are left asking a question that begins with the word “Why?”

That question not only perplexed them. It perplexes us to this day. We do our best to live for Jesus, to advance the Kingdom; but, despite our best efforts, sometimes things don’t work out. Bad things happen. We don’t get the results we want. Our emotional and spiritual gasoline tank is on empty.

So we ask inside ourselves and even to the Lord, What’s wrong? Why can’t we do as Jesus did? Why did that happen or not happen? We are perplexed and stumble for an answer.

Notice, the disciples ask their question “indoors.” Like them, we don’t want to admit our failures in the presence of others. So, we seek a quiet opportunity to ponder and question. It’s best we do it that way. Why perplex others with our own struggles? Besides, they don’t know the answer to the “why” question either.

Jesus is not afraid of our questions. In this particular situation in the Gospels, His answer is, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” Note first that He doesn’t rule out that some things can be accomplished without prayer. It’s just “this kind” — the situation that cannot be resolved with human will or resources. That kind of situation cannot change without prayer. Some things can only be resolved with God’s help.

In responding as He did, Jesus graciously points out to the nine disciples that they have not been praying. At the beginning of the incident (9:14), we found them arguing instead. Argument and prayer are incompatible.

Additionally, the nine had been left for a week without Peter, James and John. No doubt that was upsetting to them. Why had they been left behind? Why were they not among the favored? It’s hard to be productive for Jesus when you question Him and envy other followers of His. Prayer and spiritual power easily flies out the window when we are jealous.

Credit the nine, though, with sticking up for Jesus against the teachers of the Law despite the fact He had gone off with the three.

The nine represent the stress of working for Jesus. Left without His presence (or the sense of His presence), dealing with difficult circumstances that do not change despite our best efforts, defending the Lord and ourselves from criticism — no wonder we get burned out. We want to say to the Lord, “Where is the ‘my yoke is easy and my burden is light’?”

In the midst of all that, we fail to pray. We are just too busy dealing with the stuff of life, struggling with conflict and even spiritual impotence. Our communion with the Lord leaks all out of our daily routine.

Absent prayer, we are left helpless and hopeless. We become just like the nine — little or no time to pray, lacking the will or the desire to pray.

May we take heart from Jesus’ answer to the nine — that a life of prayer is essential if we are to overcome spiritually. May we also take heart that Jesus is the One we go to when we have questions. There are questions only He can answer.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, help me to remain in constant communion with You through the day, for without Your presence I lack power to successfully overcome the challenges I face.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

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2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

2011 On Your Mark

2010 On Your Mark

2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark

Podcasts of On Your Mark are available in video and audio.
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