Friday, January 13, 2012

Prayer, It Drives Out Demons

Mark 9:14-29 (ESV)
And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. [15] And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. [16] And he asked them, "What are you arguing about with them?" [17] And someone from the crowd answered him, "Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. [18] And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able." [19] And he answered them, "O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me." [20] And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. [21] And Jesus asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. [22] And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." [23] And Jesus said to him, "If you can! All things are possible for one who believes." [24] Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" [25] And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." [26] And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, "He is dead." [27] But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. [28] And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" [29] And he said to them, "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer."

“Anything but Prayer” Some ancient texts include “and fasting,” Which gives you insight as to the relationship between the two in the early church, that is prayer and fasting. Scripture mentions exorcisms many times, this is the only place I know of where Scripture speaks to how one is supposed to perform an exorcism. It seems some demons are easier to drive out then others. Increasingly we are finding need to reclaim exorcism in the life of the church. To this end I’m really looking forward to Robert Bennett’s book hitting market. There just aren’t very many resources on this topic. One is left wondering what it is one should do when confronted with the need for exorcism. Evidently Lutheranism in Madagascar has exploded as the result of a lay led exorcist movement. As the west becomes more and more pagan, as can be witnessed at earth day celebrations, or the fact that bookstore shelves are inundated with books on wicca and other forms of neo paganism.
By anything but prayer… I think there is something else to be said here, today we all too often underestimate prayer and it’s power. In Lutheran circles I think this comes about as a reaction to the sinners prayer and other abuse. It is peculiar, but I find people telling me the Bible doesn’t allow for men to forgive sins but demands you pray for the forgiveness of sins. They read a different Bible than any I’m familiar with, because the one I read does the exact opposite. I’m hard pressed to find where one is told to pray for forgiveness, even the Lord’s prayer is a bit ambiguous on this. But Christians over and over are told to forgive sins. No where is salvation directly attached to prayer either. It is not a means of grace. But that does not mean it is powerless or without purpose. It can drive out the strongest of demons. Luther blamed the entire Reformation on the prayers of the pious. We underestimate prayer. We way underestimate prayer. And as a result our prayer life suffers, and the spiritual health ofour communities suffer, our spiritual lives suffer. Pray. It’s such a simple thing to do, we always think it is too simple, to trite, it couldn’t possibly do anything.
Namaan thought that of washing in the Jordan. Baptists think that of baptism. Reformed think that of the Lord’s Supper. We always look to other means to bring about reformation, and church growth, perhaps a contemporary worshipt service would be better. Growth by human means is human growth. God grants the true growth, he works in the manner he determines, and he determines to work through our prayer. Yes it is simple, yes it doesn’t look like much. But don’t underestimate it. Prayer can bring down the walls of Jericho. Prayers can break thourgh unbelief and drive out demons. Want to know what to do about Mormonism? Pray. Want to know what to do about your children, baptize them, then bring them up in the faith teaching them day in and day out, and pray for them. And no that prayer is much more powerful than we ever give it credit for, The prayer of a righteous man… and in Christ you are righteous.

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