Jesus strolled forward, frustrated. His disciples had already attempted to do a good work. They struggled to accomplish what was needed, they made an effort to bring good to someone broken that day, but they couldn’t. Do you ever feel that way? I regularly do. A challenge, a task we need to accomplish, or broken issue we have to fix. It’s stares us down as a major goal for the day or a looming roadblock to the project. When we give it our best effort, nothing happens. No results!
Jesus stepped in, cleaned up the mess, healed what was broken and the disciples murmured, “How in the world did he do that when we couldn’t?” Jesus’ response in Mark 9 regarding the man healed of the impure spirit, “that one only comes out through prayer.”
Here’s what confuses me. Jesus didn’t pray! He probably said the very same words to that impure spirit as the disciples, but look at the text, no prayer from Jesus! The disciples fell flat on their face in empty attempts at activism. They had with all the right intentions, they said all the right words but something was missing.
Wracking my brain to understand Christ’s reasoning here (telling people prayer is essential when he didn’t pray himself), I noticed, throughout the preceding chapters of Mark, Jesus is praying, getting alone with the Father. Jesus’ action in the moment was entirely different than the disciples, his work was filled with spiritual power, and his wisdom was spot on because he didn’t pray in that moment. He prayed as a lifestyle in the days before the moment.
His well was filled. When the time came to act, to draw upon the spiritual reserves, he was ready. Often we stumble into a challenging situation, wanting and needing spiritual wisdom and power, we need God’s blessing and a miracle. We act. Nothing happens. It’s not because we didn’t pray in that moment. It’s because we drew upon empty reserves of spiritual strength.
If you want the strength of God’s spirit to flow through you in desperate times, fill the well of your soul on a daily basis. It’s a simple reminder for me. Don’t wait for the challenge to be staring me down and have an empty, exhausted, powerless tank to draw upon. Fill up every day! Join me in a 30 minute / day commitment between now and Christmas*, to fill the well of your soul with times in prayer and scripture meditation. There will undoubtedly be a moment when a conversation, a relational roadblock, a challenging project at work, or a personal battle can only be accomplished through prayer; but not prayer in that moment, the prayer that you’ve been living in for days.
*16 chapters in the book of Mark. 16 days until Christmas Eve. Chapter a day with prayer and reflection. You in?