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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Malpass

Only by Prayer

The Gospel of Mark recounts the story of a man whose son was possessed by an unclean spirit that made him mute. The spirit also made the boy convulse violently and throw himself in fire and water to kill him. Jesus' disciples had tried unsuccessfully to drive out the impure spirit, but they could not. The boy's father pleaded with Jesus to help them "if He can."

"If I can?" Jesus laughed gently. "All things are possible for the one who believes."

The father responded with one of my all-time favorite Bible quotes: "I do believe! er... that is, help my unbelief!" (Gosh, I can really relate to that father's honest answer.)

Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to leave the boy and never return, and of course, it immediately did like He said.

Later, the disciples asked Jesus, "Why couldn't we drive out the spirit ourselves?"

He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer." (Mark 9:14-29)

I confess prayer is quite mysterious to me. What is actually happening when we pray? What is supposed to happen? Why do so many of us—from all faiths, all cultures, both believers and skeptics—know what it means to fall to our knees with heads bowed? Or to lift our eyes and hearts to heaven and earnestly cry out to God?

I do not have any profound truths to pass along about prayer, only personal speculation. I believe prayer is the primary gateway that corporeal beings use to communicate with the non-physical realm. I believe somehow our consciousnesses can connect with the mind of God through prayer.

I honestly don't know how my prayers reach God. Sometimes I even think, "are my prayers really reaching God at all?" But I keep praying. In faith, I keep praying.

By faith, I believe in the power of prayer. Truly, I believe! But like the father in the story, one of my most heartfelt prayers is, "help my unbelief!"

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