Mark 9:14-29 NRSVue
14When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them and some scribes arguing with them. 15When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. 16He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak, 18and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid, and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.” 19He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” 20And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, help us! Have compassion on us!” 23Jesus said to him, “If you are able! All things can be done for the one who believes.” 24Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!” 26After 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.” 27But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. 28When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.”
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Some thoughts on this scripture
The last words of the this story have been a common prayer for so many people. We are a mixture of faith and unbelief. We pray from a combination of faith and doubt, on days when faith is dry and prayer seems useless. We can ask for help; we know we cannot exist on unbelief. In prayer we come as we are, with the different levels of faith, and pray for help. When we pray we are heard. John Henry Cardinal Newman prayed, ‘the night is dark and I am far from home, lead thou me on.’
There seems to be something in the spirits that recognised Jesus, realising that a new way of living was in prospect. I may resist Jesus in small ways, preferring to allow comforts and habits to keep my world arranged as I like it. With the father in the gospel I say, 'I believe; help my unbelief!'
Jesus listens to the deep desires of those who come to him in their need. He recognises faith and encourages it. I take time to express myself to Jesus and ask him to strengthen my faith.