And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Mark 9:29
On Father’s Day four years ago, I was in the Cleveland Clinic, in a coma, with no promise that I would eventually “wake up.” Many of you know the story and those that don’t can read about it here. I did wake up a week later and began a long rehab process full of victories and setbacks. Toward the end of the process, I began writing about the experience. This time of year I go back and revisit those posts. Over the next few weeks, I plan to share a few posts from those days that have been helpful to me and others.
One of the things I have noticed as we are going through this process is that I don’t worry about the outcome. At this point, it appears that God will heal me completely and that I will walk again. There have been enough worrisome things happen to us that I might fret a little about what is next or what we will do. But, instead I find a peace that passes understanding and the assurance that comes from knowing that God holds the future. He has already determined what will happen and my responsibility is to follow His leading and cooperate.
This conclusion is not based on some blinding revelation from God but, rather, on the years I have spent building a foundation of prayer, Bible study, and learning God’s character. I believe in an unchanging God who loves me unconditionally and who will work all things together for my good because I am called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28-30). All the truth that I have stored up is now ready to use and God has the raw material to build this situation into the outcome that He desires. I could not imagine coming into this situation unprepared. I would be overwhelmed with questions about why bad things happen to good people, why it feels like God is punishing me, and what would have happened if I died. I will talk about all those topics over the next days and weeks.
When you go on a vacation, you probably plan for it months in advance. A journey like I am on starts in a heartbeat. You must always be ready. I chose the scripture for the opening because it highlights an important point. Please take a minute and read the entire passage from Mark 9:14-29. Mark writes that Jesus told the disciples they could not cast out the unclean spirit because this kind only comes out with prayer. But, when you read the passage, you see that Jesus did not pray, he simply commanded it to leave. The disciples couldn’t command the spirit to leave and apparently did not think to pray.
Was this a situation where Jesus was telling his disciples to do something while he modeled a different approach? That’s not likely. As you read the gospels, you see that Jesus was a man of prayer. This event was the day after the transfiguration. Jesus was undoubtedly up early and in prayer about his day. He was ready when he encountered the boy with the unclean spirit. The spirit came out with prayer because Jesus had gone into the situation with prayer.
My goal is to live in a state of readiness. I don’t know what I will encounter, but I know that there will be trials and temptations along the way. And, sometimes, there are experiences like I have had that are completely unforeseeable. On June 12, I never would have expected to be where I am today. Without the years I spent in prayer, Bible study, and learning about God, I never would have been ready. This has been the greatest physical challenge I have ever faced. The spiritual battle has been ferocious, there is an adversary, and for some reason he does not want me well. But, I am trusting the grace and mercy of my unchanging God to lead me through this process and bring me out stronger and better because of it.
What should you be doing? I will talk in my next post about my approach to daily prayer. Think of it as preparing your “life’s journey emergency suitcase.” You want it filled with prayer, Bible and a firm knowledge of who God is. Sometimes you will pull things out of your spiritual suitcase as you need them and sometimes you may be called to live out of it for a while. Either way, you want it to be ready.