A burdened pastor was sitting at his desk wondering what to do about the large debt on the church building when a stranger came in to see him. The stranger asked if the report about the large debt was correct. When the pastor confirmed the news, the stranger laid a blank check on the pastor’s desk with a simple instruction. The pastor was to fill in the necessary amount and the man would come back later to sign it. The pastor sat there looking at the check. He appreciated the man’s generous impulse but was certain he had no concept of the size of the remaining debt. Finally, he hesitatingly wrote in half of the amount – afraid even that would startle the stranger when he returned. Shortly after this, the stranger returned. He hardly looked at the check as he signed it and quickly left without another word. The pastor looked at the signature and recognized it was the signature of a well-known philanthropist who could easily have paid the whole debt. So often when we pray, we treat God the way that the pastor treated the stranger. We appreciate His sincerity in offering to help us but doubt His ability to really deal with the enormity of the situation as it appears from our perspective. Mark 9:14-29 shows us both this tendency and the cure. Study the passage to learn about the key to effective prayer and how to make it your own.
Before studying God's Word, ask Him to help you understand what He wrote and how He wants it to change your life today.
Read Focus Verses
Read Mark 9:14-29 and try to imagine being there and seeing and hearing everything in the passage as it happened.
Who is the main Character of these verses?
Keyword - Jesus
Marking Jesus' Name and the pronouns (he, him, his) that refer to Him help us see Him as central in this passage.
Mark Jesus' Name and the pronouns that refer to Him in Mark 9:14-29.
Keywords - Faith, Believe
Faith, belief, faithlessness, and unbelief are key ideas that tie this passage together.
Mark the words about faith and belief in Mark 9:14-29.
The verses which come right before today's passage, Mark 9:1-13, give us the context of what Jesus has just experienced.
What has Jesus just experienced?
What does Jesus see first when He comes down from the Mount of Transfiguration according to verse 14?
What happened when the crowd saw Jesus?
What was the problem the man in the crowd needed help with? (verses 17-22)
What did Jesus say in verse 19?
The Demon's Response
How did the demon possessing the son respond when he saw Jesus?
What did Jesus say to the Father in verse 23?
The Father's Reply
How did the father reply?
What did Jesus do in verse 25?
Obedience and Healing
What happened in verses 26-27?
What did the disciples ask Jesus in verse 28?
What was Jesus' reply to them?
Mark 6:7-13 gives us important information for understanding today's story.
What did Jesus give the disciples power to do in Mark 6:7?
Had the disciples cast out demons before according to these verses?
Matthew 17:19-21 gives us more of Jesus' answer to the disciples after this event.
Why did Jesus say the disciples were unable to cast out this demon even though they'd done it before?
What is it in verse 19 that most grieved Jesus about the people living at the time He was on earth?
The desperate father had brought his son to see Jesus and been disappointed because He was unavailable. He had then asked the disciples for help, but they had been unable to help him because of their unbelief. What does the father ask in verse 22?
Faith is Contagious
How can the disciples' unbelief leading to this man's lack of faith warn Christians about the influence they have on the way the people around them view God?
The One Who Believes
What does Jesus say about the person who believes?
Nothing Is Impossible
Luke 1:37 tells us why this is the case.
Faith in Prayer
In Mark 11:20-26 Jesus talks more about the importance of faith in prayer.
James 1:5-8 explains why faith is necessary.
Asking in Faith
Why does a person have to pray in faith according to these verses?
John 15:7 gives us more information about what kind of person can pray with this faith.
God's Words Abide in Him
What is true of the person who truly prays in faith?
Read the leper's prayer in Mark 1:40-42 and compare it with the father's prayer in verse 22 of today's passage.
What is the difference between the two prayers? (Hint: notice what the "if" is about in each.)
In 1 John 5:14-15 God gives Christians a promise about prayer.
According to His Will
What kinds of prayers does God promise to grant in 1 John 5:14-15?
A Case Study
Read about one of Paul's prayers in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9.
What did Paul pray for in these verses?
Did God grant Paul his request? Explain.
In Luke 22:42 we read one of the most famous prayers in history.
Who is praying in Luke 22:42?
What does Jesus ask for in these verses?
What was God's answer?
The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus was perfect and never sinned. Could He have been praying in unbelief or without faith?
So, does praying in faith mean that you will necessarily get exactly what you ask for?
What does it mean to pray in faith if it doesn't mean 100% confidence that God will give you what you ask for? The leper's prayer in Mark 1:40 can help.
Hebrews 11:6 explains why faith is so important.
Why is faith so important?
Fruit of the Spirit
Notice what Galatians 5:22-23 says about faith.
Who is the source of true faith?
Prayer and Fasting
If we want to have our prayers answered, we've seen that we must pray in faith, believing that God is able to grant our request. Today's passage gives us two ways to get more faith in verses 24 and 29. What are they?
Hebrews 12:1-3 says something about faith which can help give you confidence that God is able to give you faith if you ask.
What does Hebrews 12:1-3 say about faith?
Faith in God
If you ever struggle with unbelief, verses like Jeremiah 32:17-19 can help increase your faith.
Hebrews 6:11-12 tells us another way to stir up our faith. A few chapters later, Hebrews 11 gives accounts of characters who were examples of faith and whose stories you can study in the Old Testament.
Stirring Up Faith
How can these verses encourage a Christian whose faith is wavering?
Read Mark 9:14-29 once more in light of what you've studied.
What can you learn from the father in this story?
What do you learn about Jesus Christ in this story?
Is there a problem you need God's help with? Will you pray about it in faith - with full confidence that God is able and willing to help you - asking for His will to be done?
Do you, like the father in today's story, desire more faith? How will you go about getting more faith based on the instructions in your study of the Bible today?
Who is the best example of faith you know? Will you commit to being an example of faith for someone else?
We hope this study plan has helped you understand the key to effective prayer and has challenged you to pray in faith believing that God is able to help you and desiring for His will to be done.
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