Well, here we are nearly to the midway point of another week in which is revealed another nightmarish episode of the unfortunate coronavirus Covid-19 saga. A general sense of futility runs amok all about us. The curve is yet rising rather than flattening. Projections of higher numbers of infections and death yet proliferate. It’s not that anyone isn’t attempting to do anything about it. Politicians are working. The medical professionals are extending themselves in a most heroic and noble manner. It’s just that it appears all efforts, at the end of the day, come up woefully short of a solution.
On this day, which happens to be Wednesday our weekly fast day, I am mindful of a futile moment in the lives of Jesus’ disciples recorded in Mark 9. A man who had a son sat upon by a spirit of dumbness, brought him to the disciples to have the spirit removed. To the shame of the disciples, they were unable to work the exorcism. Consequently, there was a debate fueled by this disappointing result. Jesus arrives on the scene, rebukes the faithlessness of the entire generation, and then proceeds to cast out the demon. Confounded by their inability to cast out this demon as Jesus had, the disciples sought clarity from Christ. I’m sure that it was especially challenging to their minds because of what they had already done in the past. We are told in the 6th chapter of Mark, prior to this event, the following: “And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.” (Mark 6:13 AV) The question undoubtedly was: If we cast demons out before, why could we not cast this one out of the boy? Jesus’ response informed His disciples that they were confronted with an atypical situation that required a deeper spiritual connectedness with the heavenly Father. Hence, Jesus’ response, which was: “And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29 AV)
The New Interpreter’s Bible points out that, “Prayer indicates that the individuals involved have faith in God’s power to bring about the requested outcome.” Our prayer and fasting signify faith while drawing us in closer to our Master. As we prepare to conclude another day of focused prayer and fasting, may we do so with the assuredness that we are employing the right tactic for a difficult, stubborn situation. In the end, we shall be victorious. God will bring about the requested outcome at the right time. Be encouraged today. Your prayers and fasting have purpose and, moreover, they are not in vain!
Stand by for another conversation or two about this teachable moment in the lives of Jesus’ disciples.
Yours in His Service,
Bishop Lambert W. Gates, Sr.