Frustration! You try to do something… You believe it’s possible… You’ve got reasonable skills… You do some research (you even “Google” a solution and do a search on “YouTube” to get instructions on how to do it… You try everything they tell you and experience one failure after another! Frustration! It happened to me this week, “iPhone” problem… I did all of the above… none of it worked… no insurance plan purchased for my phone… I know what I’m going to have to do… take it to the iPhone store, pay a fee and have a technician fix it… $$$ (or purchase a new phone) Did I say “frustration?”
I read an account in Mark’s gospel with some serious “frustration” overtones this morning (Mark 9:14-29)…
A father with a demon possessed son brought him to Jesus’ disciples, pleading for help! The father testified that his son had an evil spirit that made him mute – it would seize the boy, throw him down, he would foam at the mouth, grind his teeth and become rigid. The evil spirit had repeatedly cast the boy into the fire, tried to drown him, and repeatedly tried to destroy him. He brought his son to the disciples asking for help (and they had been given authority to cast out demons). They tried everything they knew to do and the young man was still not delivered!
Frustrated father! Frustrated disciples!
Here’s what the father told Jesus… “I brought him to your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, and they were not able!” Frustration!
Later the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” Frustration!
When Jesus heard the story, I think I hear just an edge of frustration in what He said… You see what you think… “Jesus asked the disciples, ‘What are you arguing about? … [They were arguing with the religious leaders about why the boy had not been delivered.] Jesus answered them, ‘Oh faithless generation! How long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring to boy to Me.’” Frustration?
The father cried out, “If you can anything, have compassion on us and help us!” And Jesus said to him “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes!” The father, realizing his lack of faith, authentically admitted, “I believe! Help my unbelief!” Frustration!
Then Jesus acted decisively! The Bible says, “He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You mute and deaf Spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again!” And the demon violently came out, but the boy was instantly healed!
Later when the disciples asked Jesus privately why they had been unable to cast the demon out, Jesus replied, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer [and some ancient manuscripts add the words, “and fasting”].
Now I’ve got a question, based upon Jesus’ response to His disciples… Is it possible… just possible, that some of our “frustration,” fruitlessness, and faithlessness in ministry is tied to our prayerlessness? Is it just possible that our faith would be stronger and more effective, when it comes to seeing God display his mighty, miraculous power in our world, if we gave ourselves more to prayer (and less to conferences and workshops that simply teach ministry technique)? Just wondering. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting down honest, Biblically informed training… I’m just observing, that according to Jesus, the effectiveness of my ministry could be improved a great deal by more prayer! I don’t know about you – I’m going to prioritize prayer!