Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Effective prayer

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. - Mark 9:25-26a

As Jesus descended the Mount of Transfiguration with Sts. Peter, James and John, he comes upon a crowd gathered. It is made known to him that the remaining disciples have attempted to drive out a demon from a man's daughter without success. Jesus scolds them ("O faithless generation, how long will I endure you?") and proceeds to drive the demon from the girl. This prompts the disciples to ask why they were not able to drive the demon from the girl to which Jesus responds, "This kind can only come out through prayer."

A couple of things came to mind when I contemplated this passage from St. Mark's gospel. First of all, Jesus scolds the disciples for their lack of faith. This is why they could not cast the demon out. This is why Jesus tells them that "this kind can only come out through prayer." It is only through their faith in God manifested through prayer that they will be able to drive out the demon. Prayer is communicating with God and therefore being united with him. The disciples learned a valuable lesson in that they were taught that they have the authority to remove demons only through their communion with God through prayer. It is not a power that they possess of themselves.

The second thing is that Jesus merely speaks the word, and the demon is dispelled. Christ's words are efficacious. They always produce the effect that he desires because of the authority that his words command. The gospel writers use this authority and effectiveness as evidence of the divinity of Christ. We can see that this is a characteristic of divinity from the very first chapter of the book of Genesis when God says, "Let there be _____ (fill in the blank) and there was _____ (again, fill in the blank)." God's word effects what he intends, and Jesus, God's only begotten Son and one in being with the Father, carries that same effectiveness when he speaks.

Lord Jesus, may your words effect in us true faith, hope and charity.


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