Prayer sustains our
February 20, 2023
“HIS disciples asked him in private, ‘Why could we not drive the
spirit out?’ He said to them, ‘This kind can only come out through
prayer.’” (Mk 9,28-29)
This is the concluding part of that gospel episode where Christ was
approached by the father of a boy possessed by a mute spirit. (cfr.
Mk 9,14-29) According to the father, “wherever the mute spirit
seized the boy, it threw him down; he foamed at the mouth, ground
his teeth, and became rigid.” It must have been a terrible sight!
But the father complained that when he asked Christ’s disciples to
drive it out, they were unable to do so. That’s when Christ
retorted, “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How
long will I endure you?”
Somehow Christ was highlighting the need for faith for the disciples
to be able to drive the spirit out. “Everything is possible to one
who has faith,” he said. And then he asked the father of the boy if
he too had faith that the spirit can be driven out.
That’s when the father said the famous words: “I do believe, help my
unbelief!” He somehow captured the usual condition we have in
relation to our faith. We like to profess that we have faith, but we
also know that our faith is oftentimes wavering.
When Christ finally drove out the spirit from the boy, the disciples
asked why they could not do it. That’s when Christ made it clear
that “this kind can only come out through prayer.”
Somehow from this episode we can make the following conclusion: for
us to share in the very power of God, especially when we are faced
with extraordinary challenges and problems, we need to have a strong
faith. And for that faith to be a working faith, it has to be
sustained always through prayer.
In other words, to live our life with God and share in everything
that he has as we are meant to be, we need pray to keep our faith
going. Prayer should be a constant activity for us. It should be
like the very beating of our heart.
We have to realize more deeply that it is a basic need of ours to
pray. If we understand our life to be a life always with God, as our
Christian faith tells us, then we need to pray always.
Prayer is actually more important and necessary than the air we
breathe, the food we eat or the water we drink. We should do
everything to learn to pray always. On this, St. Paul clearly said,
“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thes 5,17)
In fact, in that Pauline passage, what went before and after it are
very interesting. St. Paul says that we have to rejoice always and
be thankful in all circumstances because that is the will of God for
us. (cfr 1 Thes 5,16.18)
We have to find ways of how to conform ourselves to this clear
indication of St. Paul. We have to learn how to pray always,
converting everything in our life, including those that we consider
as negative or bad elements, into an occasion, a means, a reason for
We need to go beyond that common understanding of prayer that pegs
it only to the recitation of some vocal prayers or to spending time
in some special places to do meditation or contemplation. While
these forms of prayer are important and, in fact, are indispensable,
they do not have the exclusive ownership, so to speak, of the ways