Step #1: Lectio / Read
As Jesus came down from the mountain with Peter, James, John
and approached the other disciples,
they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them.
Immediately on seeing him,
the whole crowd was utterly amazed.
They ran up to him and greeted him.
He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?”
Someone from the crowd answered him,
“Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit.
Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down;
he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid.
I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so.”
He said to them in reply,
“O faithless generation, how long will I be with you?
How long will I endure you? Bring him to me.”
They brought the boy to him.
And when he saw him,
the spirit immediately threw the boy into convulsions.
As he fell to the ground, he began to roll around
and foam at the mouth.
Then he questioned his father,
“How long has this been happening to him?”
He replied, “Since childhood.
It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him.
But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Jesus said to him,
“‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.”
Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!”
Jesus, on seeing a crowd rapidly gathering,
rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it,
“Mute and deaf spirit, I command you:
come out of him and never enter him again!”
Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out.
He became like a corpse, which caused many to say, “He is dead!”
But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up.
When he entered the house, his disciples asked him in private,
“Why could we not drive the spirit out?”
He said to them, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Has anyone ever looked at you, when you were in a tough situation or going through something you didn't understand, and just told you to "pray about it?" I'm guessing that, if that has happened, you probably weren't super happy with that person in that moment. Maybe you thought to yourself "I've tried that already." You might have actually said something back to them along the lines of "I know that, I was asking you to give me something more than that."
At the end of today's Gospel, you can imagine the frustration of the Disciples when Jesus tells them that they were unable to drive out the spirit that was possessing this young man because this kind of thing can only be accomplished through prayer. I'm guessing that, in the moment that He said that to them, the Disciples first response wasn't "wow, we definitely didn't think of that." Probably, a lot like you and me, their response was more along the lines of: "I was praying, but it still didn't work. So why didn't that work, Jesus?!".
Earlier in the Gospel, the man who had brought his son to Jesus to be healed asks Jesus to heal the boy "if He can." Jesus is actually a little bit taken back by this statement - there is no need for an 'if' clause around Jesus, and the man immediately realizes his mistake with one of the most beautiful prayers in all of the Gospels: "I do believe; help my unbelief."
Disciples, including you and I today, would do really well to make that line of "help my unbelief" a daily prayer. Jesus' closest followers were struggling with exactly this prayer: they thought they believed enough, and needed to learn the humility to know they do not truly believe just yet, but that they want to.
The most beautiful part of this story, though, is not just that we learn how to pray through our doubts and the areas of our lives where we haven't totally believed yet, but the fact that Jesus makes a bold promise that we can do all the things He does if we do truly believe. How awesome is that! Yesterday we celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit in power at Pentecost, and now we hear Jesus tell us that everything is possible if we have faith that it is.
Do you believe that everything is possible through prayer and belief in Jesus Christ? I mean really believe, really trust, and really pray as if your prayers can happen. Sometimes I think we pray with a submission as if our prayers are not going to actually accomplish anything; Jesus tells us today to start praying the opposite way, to pray with the conviction that what we are asking for truly is going to happen, and to have faith and trust in Him.
Jesus Christ is powerful enough to do miraculous things in your life; are you ready to believe and to truly ask for His power in your life? If there is something going on in your life, the most important thing you can do is to pray about it, because prayers said with true faith in Christ will be answered in the most beautiful way imaginable.
Step #3: Oratio/Pray
This kind can only come out through prayer.
What are areas of your life where you struggle to believe in God's power? Why is it hard for you to believe sometimes?
Think of some situations and things happening in your life right now. Pray about them, give them over to God, tell Him what's going on.
In those situations above, what is it, really particularly, you're asking God for? Do you believe that He can do that thing? Do you trust Him to do what's best for you?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
Lord I believe, help my unbelief.
Lord, I give you all of the situations I'm currently facing.
Holy Spirit, work in Power in my life.
For the Rest of Your Day...
Find ways to entrust your situations and the things you're facing to God. Take time throughout your day to pause, to pray, and to believe that He'll be with you in those areas of your life.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Jason Theobald.
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