Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Prayer and "This Kind" of Problem

Yesterday I read this interesting passage in the Bible: Mark 9:14-29 (New International Version). I'm just going to post the story it tells right here and get on to my own story at the end.

The Healing of a Boy with an Evil Spirit
14When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
16"What are you arguing with them about?" he asked.

17A man in the crowd answered, "Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not."

19"O unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me."

20So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

21Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"

"From childhood," he answered. 22"It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."

23" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."

24Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

25When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again."

26The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, "He's dead." 27But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

28After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn't we drive it out?"

29He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer."

I've been slowly reading my way through the book of Mark. I do all personal study slowly these days. I've gotten to follow along with Jesus as he's done so many healings and miracles. It's been spectacular! There is a ton of great stuff in this passage, too, but the part that stood out to me was the disciples little question at the end. Jesus had given them the power to heal yet this little boy stumped them. "Why couldn't we drive it out?" Essentially, "Why couldn't we take care of it ourselves? We've done it before!" Jesus enlightens them to the ways of the world he created, "This kind can come out only by prayer." This problem is for me, bring it to me, let me show you how easily I can handle it.
I'm almost ashamed to admit my personal application here but I hope it encourages you! When Josiah was a baby and we were dealing with that awful fatigue that first time parents have to adjust to, I noticed that every night Andrew and I would plead with the Lord, "Please let him sleep through the night so we can get some rest." What happened instead was we adjusted to less sleep and learned to train him to sleep through the night. There was no miracle sleep that happened but eventually we learned how to get through that time. Things worked the same for every baby that came along. I noticed we didn't pray for sleeping babies anymore and I began to laugh at myself and those silly "new parent prayers". I had even begun telling new parents that there was no point in praying for your baby to sleep through the night, God's given us tactics and your body will adjust.
Eliza was born a great sleeper. What a blessing! But she was also born an early riser and it's really worn on this night owl! I did everything I could to train her out of it and adjusted as far as I could. I'd fallen into the routine of pulling her into bed with us, nursing her, and then we'd try to catch some sleep while she wiggled around between us and played with whatever safe objects I could find nearby. Putting her back in bed after nursing usually ended with her crying and it would often wake Sierra up, so the problem would be multiplied. We're only talking a couple hours extra sleep that I needed and surely she would begin to sleep later eventually, right? Still, I needed those extra hours sleep. I realized this morning, as I was again nursing her so early, that perhaps this one required prayer. So, I presented the problem to the Lord and requested the moon!
"Lord, give Eliza a quieted spirit, remove from her the spirit of restlessness
and discontent. Calm her so that when I put her back in her bed she will
stay asleep and sleep past 7:30am and when she wakes give her a cheerful

This morning I woke at 8:00am to sweet babbling! I knew that God was revealing himself to me and reminding me that He is in control of EVERYTHING. He cares for me, but the world is so much bigger that ME. I felt so encouraged to continue to bring everything before him in prayer because "this kind" may find it's solution "only through prayer" despite all my previous best efforts.
Lord, lift me above my own narrow horizons, that I might fulfill your true vision for me. - B.J. Hoff