Some prayer lives lack consistency. They’re either a desert or an oasis. Long, arid dry spells interrupted by brief plunges into the waters of communion. We go days or weeks without consistent prayer but then something happens – we hear a sermon, read a book, experience a tragedy – something leads us to pray, so we dive in. We submerge ourselves in prayer and leave refreshed and renewed. But as the journey resumes, our prayers don’t.

Others of us need sincerity. Our prayers are a bit hollow, memorized and rigid. More liturgy than life. And though they are daily, they are dull. Still others lack, well, honesty. We honestly wonder if prayer makes a difference. Why on earth would God in heaven want to talk to me? If God knows all, who am I to tell him anything? If God controls all, who am I to do anything? If you struggle with prayer, I’ve got just the guy for you. Don’t worry; he’s not a monastic saint. He’s not a calloused-kneed apostle.

Nor is he a prophet whose middle name is meditation. He’s not a too-holy-to-be-you reminder of how far you need to go in prayer. He’s must the opposite. A parent with a sick son in need of a miracle. The father’s prayer isn’t much but the answer is and the result reminds us; the power is not in the prayer, it’s in the one who hears it.

He prayed out of desperation. His son, his only son, was demon-possessed. Not only was he a deaf mute and an epileptic, he was also possessed by an evil spirit. Ever since the boy was young, the demon had thrown him into fires and water.

Imagine the pain of the father. Other dads could watch their children grow and mature; he could only watch his suffer. While other dads were teaching their sons and occupation, he was just trying to keep his son alive.

Does such prayer make a difference? Let Mark answer that question. “When Jesus saw that a crowed was quickly gathering, he ordered the evil spirit, saying, ‘You evil spirit that makes people unable to hear or speak, I command you to come out of this boy and never enter him again,’” “The evil spirit screamed and caused the boy to fall on the ground again. Then the spirit came out. The boy looked as if he were dead and many people said, ‘He is dead!’ But Jesus took hold of the boy’s hand and helped him stand up.”

This troubled the disciples. As soon as they got away from the crowds the asked Jesus, “Why couldn’t we deliver the demon?” His answer? “This kind can only be driven out by prayer.” What prayer? What prayer made the difference? Was it the prayer of the apostles? No, they didn’t pray. Must have been, the prayers of the scribes. Maybe they went to the temple and interceded. No. The scribes didn’t pray either. Then it must have been the people. Perhaps they had a vigil for the boy. Nope. The people didn’t pray. They never bent a knee. Then what prayer led Jesus to deliver the demon? There is only one prayer in the story. It’s the honest prayer of a hurting man. And since God is more moved by our hurt than our eloquence, he responded. Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.

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