Last month, our prayer talk focused on a powerful reason to pray – because of our partnership with God. Let us expand on that with discussing what could be called the two biggest errors in the area of prayer. They are (1) to work without praying first and (2) to pray but never actually doing the work He has called us to do. In the first error, we are trying to do things in our own strength. In the second error we are expecting Him to do all the work; even the work He has demonstrated He is not going to do. Both of these errors need to be avoided at all times.

A good example of trying to do something without praying first is the account found in Mark 9:14-18. In this situation, a man brought his son to Jesus for healing; to cast a demon out of his son. However, Jesus was not available. He was away with Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. As the four rejoin the waiting nine disciples, a commotion is underway. The man had asked the remaining nine disciples to do the work, but they were unable.

Fast forwarding to verses 28-29, the disciples inquired of Jesus as to why they were unable to cast out the demon. The reply of Jesus goes to the heart of our present article. Jesus said, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Depending on the translation of the Bible you use, you might find a notation that says the last two words and fasting are not in some manuscripts. We will not try to unravel that knot today, but if Jesus did not say and fasting then what He said was, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer.” Could it be the disciples tried to cast the demon out of the boy without praying to the Father to do the work. Did they think they could cast out the demon because they were disciples? A strong case could be made for this.

In order for prayer to work we need a relationship with God, and we need to be in fellowship with God. If you were to take the time to read this entire account (Mark 9:1-29), you would discern the nine disciples could have been out of fellowship with God because they didn’t get to go up on the mountain.

There are many examples in the Bible and in life where the work of God was impeded by the weaknesses of people, but God keeps using people. He keeps partnering with people. To avoid committing the two big errors, let’s make sure we have that relationship with God, and let’s make sure we maintain our fellowship with God. Let’s keep those lines of communication open knowing we can accomplish more after we pray than trying to do tasks on our own.

Next time … How does prayer work? Can our prayers affect an all-powerful God?