Today’s Gospel lesson used to bother me. The disciples are unable to cure a boy possessed by an evil spirit and Jesus’ response is that only prayer could have cast it out. I felt bad for the disciples. Try as they might, they are unsuccessful at healing the boy and Jesus throws a curve ball at them by saying they didn’t have all of the information necessary to accomplish the task. Having read the lesson again for this writing and looked at it differently, I don’t feel so bad for the disciples after all.
In the very first line we learn that the disciples are arguing with scribes. What exactly are they arguing about? Are they once again arguing as to who among them is greatest and will be able to cast out the spirit? In the act of arguing are they not focused on the boy with the spirit and therefore not able to cure him?
When Jesus learns of what is happening he calls them faithless, and after saving the boy from the spirit tells them that prayer was needed. Throughout the gospels we read of Jesus’ praying, but he seems to be the only one who prays. Do the disciples pray or believe in prayer?
Jesus is telling the disciples (and us) that faith and prayer go hand in hand – prayer is necessary for our faith. Had the disciples prayed for faith and healing instead of arguing, the boy would have be healed of the evil spirit. Pray for faith and it will be given.