Our faith doesn't have to be perfect (without defect) in order for God to miraculously intervene in our lives. In fact, just the hint of faith, the smallest indication of trust, is enough to get God's attention. According to Jesus, colossal faith is not a prerequisite to move mountains; a tiny kernel of faith is sufficient — faith as small as a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20). Surprisingly, even the presence of unbelief doesn't exclude us from experiencing the miraculous (Mark 9:24). The challenge is to look to God for help even when the circumstances seem impossible and our faith seems inadequate.
In a story told in Mark 9:14-29, Jesus seems genuinely irritated by his disciples' inability to relieve a boy's suffering. He says, “You unbelieving generation, how long shall I stay with you?” (vs. 19) Jesus's patience has clearly been exhausted. He's spent a considerable amount of time with a group of men whom he now describes as “unbelieving,” having no sense of God.
- Why do you think Jesus was so upset with his disciples' failed attempt to help this man and his son?
By the time the boy and his father are brought to Jesus, the father is starting to experience doubt. It's understandable. After encountering the disciples' incompetence, he now wonders if Jesus has any real power to change his son's life. Jesus kindly but firmly pushes back against the man's misgivings, and reminds him: “Everything is possible for one who believes” (vs. 23). This pronouncement emboldens the man to tearfully confess, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (vs. 24).
- Why do you think it's so difficult for us to lean into the reality that with God all things are possible, that with God anything can happen?
- How does Jesus's pronouncement — “Everything is possible for one who believes.” — challenge your faith and/or quiet your doubts, fears, or apprehensions?
In the end, Jesus was able to do what his disciples couldn't: drive the demon out of the boy. And in verse 29, Jesus credits the miracle to one thing — prayer and fasting. Though it sounds cliché, prayer changes things. So does fasting. Together, they are a potent force for spiritual breakthrough. Jesus knew this intuitively. That's why he spent so much time doing it (Luke 4:2; 5:16). Waiting on God precedes the miracle.
- What are you praying and fasting for these days? How would you describe your prayer life: non-existent, sort of lukewarm, or vibrant? When was the last time you fasted and experienced a spiritual breakthrough?