Summary: How unbelief hinders our prayers
MATTHEW 9:35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
MATTHEW 10:1 And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.
Jesus had picked His disciples and gave them their instructions. If we skip down to vs 8 we see that they were to "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons..." and He gave them power to do that in vs 1....and then He sent them out to preach. Just as He has given power to us today as His disciples, right?
This was authority from the ultimate authority. If you’ve been in the business world a while you understand that there is a little authority (fry manager at Mcd’s) and then there is ultimate authority (CEO). This authority was given by someone who had more authority than anyone on earth.....Jesus! Power to cast out demons, heal the sick.......they had the power! Now I want to show you something that happened .......seven chapters later!
MATTHEW 17:14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.
I’m pretty sure they were confused. I don’t know how long their journey had been when they were sent out to preach and heal the sick and chase demons out, but I do know that they had been very successful at it up until that man brought his son to Jesus. Did you ever wonder why they didn’t ask Jesus about it before? If we take this in the right light I think we can see that even though the disciples had been given authority to do these works, sometimes it must not have worked!
If this had been the only one that didn’t get his deliverance after the disciples prayed over him, don’t you think they would have rushed back to Jesus and made a big deal of it? If we follow the story, it wasn’t until AFTER this was brought to Jesus’s attention that the disciples questioned Jesus about it. Sometimes I pray for certain things and God gives me authority. God has used me in many miracles, but sometimes I don’t get the results I expected. The disciples obviously experienced the same thing!
What happened from chapter 10 to chapter 17? Why had the disciples not been able to help this man’s son? The disciples wanted to know, too! We get the answer in the following verses 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Unbelief? The disciples? Don’t we always believe in the prayer that we are praying? I do. So where does the unbelief come in? Is it doubt. When I annoint someone and pray for them to be healed, some are and some aren’t. I feel like I have the same belief in each prayer. God has given me a great deal of faith, but is that different from belief? If so, what’s the difference? Is there a difference in belief and faith?
Let’s look at the same incident with this boy and his father in Mark 9:17 Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. 18 And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.” 19 He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” 20 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. 21 So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”