The man had an urgent problem. He came looking for Jesus but encountered several of Jesus' disciples first. The man had a son who was possessed by a demon that caused the son to be mute. The demon would often cause the son to have seizures that would cause him to fall to the ground, foaming at the mouth and grinding his teeth, and then to go rigid. The man thought Jesus could help his son but, since Jesus was not there, he asked the disciples to help. The disciples tried but were unable to cast the demon from the boy.
Jesus returned to find a crowd surrounding His disciples, and the disciples arguing with the scribes. When Jesus asked what they were arguing about, the father of the demon-possessed boy told Him of the boy's problem and how the disciples had been unable to cast the demon from the boy. Jesus had the man bring the boy to Him and proceeded to cast the demon from the boy. Later, when Jesus was alone with His disciples, the disciples asked Him why they were unable to cast the demon out. Jesus replied, "This kind can only come out by prayer." (Mark 9:14-29)
Have you ever encountered a problem that you were unable to solve? A problem that, no matter what you did or how hard you tried, you couldn't make go away? In this story from the gospel of Mark, Jesus is teaching us the solution to handling problems that are too big to handle alone. The solution is prayer. Why prayer? There are two important reasons for that. First, prayer brings us closer to the throne of God. When we seek Him in prayer, we are bringing ourselves into His presence. God is bigger than our problems and when we seek His help through prayer, when we enter into His presence, we focus on Him and not our problems. When we stay focused on Him, He will help us to deal with our problems.
The second reason for why prayer is the solution to handling our problems is that prayer helps us to admit that we need Him and need to access His power to help us to deal with or even overcome our problems. When we seek Him in prayer, we are saying, "God, I need you. I have tried to deal with this problem on my own, by I cannot find my way through it. But, God, I know that You have the power to help me to overcome it. Please, God, help me to overcome this." When we take that posture of humility through prayer, we are surrendering our problems to God. And, when we do that, we can be sure that He will hear us and give us the strength, wisdom, and perseverance that we need as we work to overcome those problems.
Facing a problem today? As the old hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus says, "Take it to the Lord in prayer."