In Mark 9:14-29, Christ’s disciples encounter a boy who has been plagued with demons. As a result, the boy was blind and mute. He frequently was thrown to the ground in violent fits. He would foam and the mouth and grind down his teeth. The demons would even cause him to fall into water and fire in an attempt to kill him.

The boy’s father brought him to Christ’s disciples for healing. Yet, the disciples could not help. The demons remained and the boy’s afflictions continued.

Jesus heard the commotion and asked what was happening. The boy’s father explained the situation to Jesus. After a short conversation, Christ healed the boy and removed the evil spirits.

Later, when they were alone, the disciples asked Jesus why they were not able to heal the boy. I imagine, as pastors, we can relate to the disciples’ question.

We all have evil within our churches. Believers continue to deal with the effects of indwelling sin and the desires of the flesh. Meanwhile, Satan’s rule over the present world works to woo believers into temptation.

Although every pastor experiences some “ministerial victories” from time to time, it is disconcerting to watch the couple in which he has invested so many hours continue with divorce proceedings. It is painful to see a young boy go to prison while recalling all of the hours that have been invested in discipling him and keeping him off of the streets.

“What went wrong,” the pastor asks himself.

When the disciples asked the same question, Jesus remarked, “This kind can only be healed by prayer.”

Prayer submits to the source of all power: Christ alone. That’s why we typically end our prayers with the words, “In Jesus’ name.”

However, just because we say the words, does not mean we have submitted to Christ’s authority. I think that was what Jesus was communicating to the disciples.

Effective, life-transforming ministry never comes through the power of man, but through the power of God. Man is simply a conduit through which God works.

Prayer –robust prayer- is a tool by which we keep the conduit free of obstruction and full of faith.

E.M. Bounds once wrote, “Prayer puts God’s work in his hands-and keeps it there.”

Now, here is the interesting part of the conversation between Jesus and the boy’s father. When the man says to Jesus, “If you can heal my son…” Jesus questions the man’s faith. “If?” Jesus asks. “Where is your faith?” He probes.

The man says, “I believe, help my unbelief.”

This is where every believer in every church lives his or her life. They believe, but need the power of Christ to help their unbelief. Only the praying pastor can be of help to such a soul!

Truly, you have no ministry if your ministry has no prayer.