Skip to main content

Jesus had just returned from climbing a mountain with Peter, James and John. It was there the Transfiguration happened. Jesus’ clothes had become dazzling white, and He spoke with Elijah and Moses, who seemed to appear out of nowhere.

Returning to the village, they realised that the other disciples had also been busy. They had been trying to deliver a boy from an evil spirit but with little success. The boy’s father described a harrowing account of his son’s condition, one that had plagued him since childhood. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him,” he said (Mark 9: 22).

Jesus rebuked the impure spirit and commanded it to leave, but the event left the disciples perplexed. “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”, they asked to which Jesus replied, “This kind can only come out by prayer” (some ancient copies also have, “and fasting”) (v28 – 29).

I believe this story has something to teach us about Prayer, the Authority of the believer and Faith.

“I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not”, complained the father of the boy in verse 18. I find it interesting to note that back in Matt 10: 1 (which occurred before Mark 9) the disciples all received authority from Jesus to drive out evil spirits and heal diseases and sickness. Later, in the book of Acts, we see them successfully using that authority (e.g. Acts 3: 6; Acts 5: 12, 16)

So, what went wrong here in Mark 9?

Jesus had once said that even if our faith is as tiny as a mustard seed we can say to this mountain, “Move…” Perhaps the disciples simply stopped believing in the authority they had in Christ.

Jesus told his disciples that this kind can only come out by prayer (Mark 9: 29). What is Jesus saying here? I’m speculating, but here’s my take on it: We are children of God, and we have the spiritual authority to do many things, but all things need to be soaked in prayer.

Jesus prayed often. Even the Son of God needed to pray. What if the disciples that day had not prepared themselves in prayer, and had started to doubt the authority Jesus had given them? We read the result.

Perhaps the simple message of the story is this: I have given you authority to accomplish much in my name, but all things must come out of the place of prayer.


And then there is the mention (at least in some manuscripts) of Fasting.

The Word of God also tells us that fasting is important. Very important.

·      Jesus fasted for 40 days at the beginning of His ministry as He prepared for ministry and confronted the devil (Matt 4: 1 – 11).

·      Paul and Barnabas fasted and prayed at each new church plant in their first missionary journey as they sought God for the right leaders (Acts 14: 23).

·      Battles were won in the OT after the people prayed and fasted (Judges 20: 26)

Maybe Jesus is saying this: If your situation is not changing, if you are using the authority you have in Christ, if you have covered every aspect of your situation in prayer and there is still no breakthrough, perhaps the time has come for you to fast.


“This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting”.


4-min devotions are now available as a short podcast. Go to