“…only by prayer & fasting” – Mark 9

This chapter contains Mark’s version of my favorite parts in “The Rock & The Rabbi” where Peter babbles all over himself about the 3 shelters…what a hoot! But, I’ve written on that before…

The thing I was drawn to today was the story about the boy with the dumb & deaf spirit. First, I believe there is still such a thing as this going on today. I don’t believe a Christian can be “possessed” however and I believe scripture makes that very clear. I also believe we give satan too much credit some times when we attribute every difficulty or afliction to a spirit. As I wrote recently, I believe it to be much better to seek discipleship and an intimate relationship with Abba-father rather than deliverance for every little pain.

Now – here’s the verses describing the situation in Mark 9 (for those of you reading this who don’t have your BIG Bible handy – you DO have a BIG Bible, don’t you? ):

17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son for you to heal him. He can’t speak because he is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this evil spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground and makes him foam at the mouth and grind his teeth and become rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” 19 Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you until you believe? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth. 21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was very small. 22 The evil spirit often makes him fall into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us. Do something if you can.” 23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” 24 The father instantly replied, “I do believe, but help me not to doubt!” 25 When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Spirit of deafness and muteness,” he said, “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!” 26 Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy lay there motionless, and he appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up. 28 Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?” 29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.” (NLT)

Notice in verse 25: “When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit.” Is that to say that if there was no growing crowd that Jesus would not have rebuked the spirit? Or, do you feel that Jesus waited a bit for the crowd to grow so they could see the miracle? Neither one really seems to fit my understanding of the nature of Jesus.

My other question is the same as the disciples – why couldn’t they cast out that particular evil spirit? In the NLT version (above) Jesus’ reply in verse 29 was: “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.” But there’s a foot note that says “some manuscripts add and fasting.” Is this to say that the disciples could have cast out the evil spirit had they prayed and fasted? Obviously, Jesus didn’t have time to fast, so this was for our sake as His disciples. I’m curious of your thoughts on this.

Lord, give us an understanding so we might be more effective disciples for You.


  1. #1 by Bill Dotson on September 26, 2007 - 9:40 am

    I think Jesus was telling His guys that this, maybe, higher ranking demon, needed something extra to be sent out. The disciples were apparently too much “in the flesh”, or proud, as we see in Mark 9: 33-35. They had been arguing among themselves who was the greatest. That tells me their flesh was too much in control and their spirit needed to be built up. THAT’S what fasting does, build up our spirit by resisting our flesh. And fasting is something you’d have to have done previously so you’d be prepared when “this kind” of situation arises. Jesus was prepared and all He had to do was speak. Keeping our flesh under control is important daily and anything we do to say “NO” to it is good; fasting is one way to say “NO”. Be blessed!

  2. #2 by martin clarke on April 6, 2009 - 10:50 am

    The additional exercise of fasting calls upon that extra sacrifice which in turn is fuel to the spirit and becomes in turn the extinguisher the remover in the healing process.

    The untapped power of the holy spirit within is released at this moment in time and it was Jesus who are 40 night and days of fasting then finished and performed His first miracle.

    Believers need to go for it and be ‘fully persuaded’ Romans 4

  3. #3 by rev eddy on February 10, 2011 - 2:47 am

    that is good staff ,keep it up, and send me moor information about this GOD bless you .

  4. #4 by Heather Humphries on January 5, 2012 - 11:14 am

    Just a thought…
    Perhaps Jesus healed the boy when he saw the crowd of onlookers was growing because he realized he needed to spare the boy and his father from the public scrutiny of “rubberneckers”…people who can’t stop themselves from looking at a bad car accident.

  5. #5 by TL on December 7, 2012 - 10:30 pm

    The boy suffered under the auspices of sin. He is the epitome of the ravages of sin. How sin seeks to destroy and will destroy when left unchecked. The disciples could not deal with this demon because this demon was one attached to generational sin. “How long has this been happening?” Generational sin is the curse of mankind. It is that generational curse that produces iniquities, or the propensity to gravitate toward a particular sin (anger, drunkenness, racism, sexual perversions, etc). It is so deeply rooted in mankind and we are used to having it around that we assume it to be part of our nature. It is so deeply rooted in us that we cannot distinguish it from ourselves. Even when the Holy Spirit shines His light on it we still fail understand the complete depth of sin. It is the generation upon generation of sin that pushes the root of the sin deeper and deeper. And its fruit is a Christian generation void of the true power of God and His holiness. Its fruit is a Christian generation who, like the disciples, could do some things in God’s power, but when the rubber meets the road, they failed terribly. The fruit is a Christian generation that looks every bit like the world: in selfishness, in anger, in pride, in lying, in greed, in maliciousness, in dress, in the music it listens to, in the tattoos and piercings, in the support of sexual perversion, in the TV shows it watches, all the while our consciouses seared so that we do not even realize that we are as bound by sin as our unsaved neighbor. Who has bewitched you, O foolish Christian, that you would believe such a lie?

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