Casting Out Evil Spirits Comes Only By Prayer

We hear a lot about witches and ghosts around the highly celebrated day called Halloween. But there is nothing fun about evil spirits because Jesus spent a lot of time casting them out.

Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?” Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”  Mark 9:28-29

Jesus took three of His disciples to the top of a mountain, where He transfigured before their eyes. You can read about that in a post about the Mount Of Transfiguration.

When they reached the foot of the mountain, they heard quite a commotion.

When they returned to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd surrounding them, and some teachers of religious law were arguing with them. Mark 9:14

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When the crowd saw the Lord, they immediately ran to greet Him. Jesus, though, inquired about what all the arguing was about.

One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. Mark 9:17

Obviously, the man had heard of the miracles Jesus performed and His ability of casting out evil spirits. So the man continued.

And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it. Mark 9:18

The Lord questioned the faith of His disciples. He asked how long must He be with them and put up with them. Mark recorded nine miracles they had already witnessed.

Miracles Recorded in the Gospel of Mark

  1. Jesus casts out an unclean spirit (Mark 1:23–28).
  2. He healed Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:29–34).
  3. He healed a paralyzed man (Mark 2:1–12).
  4. And He healed a man with a withered hand (Mark 3:1–6).
  5. Calming a storm (Mark 4:35–41).
  6. Raising Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5:21–24, 35–43).
  7. Fed the five thousand (Mark 6:30–44).
  8. He walked on the sea (Mark 6:45–52).
  9. He healed a deaf-mute (Mark 7:31–37).

So His disciples had seen Him do plenty. In fact, Jesus had already sent them out by twos to minister. At that time, He gave them the power for healing and casting out evil spirits.

Jesus asked the boy’s father how long he had been like that. He answered the Lord. But because His disciples couldn’t help him, he may have had some doubts because of what he asked Jesus. 

He replied, “Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” Mark 9:21-22

The disciples had failed in their attempt to cast the demon out. Also, some religious leaders probably exercised their authority, bringing even more doubt. But Jesus assured him.

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” Mark 9:23

That man may have approached the disciples without any doubts of them setting his son free. So, he wanted to believe. Therefore, he asked Jesus to help him get past his unbelief.

The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

The Observation of Casting out evil Spirits

Casting out evil spirits isn’t something most of us usually practice. So what did Jesus mean when He told His disciples that this kind can be cast out only by prayer?

Did He talk about the type of spirit? In the father’s description of this spirit, he indicated that it was very aggressive and violent. We can read about when the sons of Sceva faced a violent spirit.

Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered. Acts 19:16

But later in Mark 9, John told Jesus he saw someone using His name to cast out demons. And John told him to stop because he wasn’t in their group. Look how Jesus responded.

Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us. Mark 9:39-40

Did John observe someone casting evil spirits of a different kind? We don’t know. What we do know is the Lord doesn’t use formulas. What do I mean by that? Let me tell you!

Formula and Foundation

I only know of one formula handed down from heaven that works every time. I’ve listed three of the many ways we can find it said in the Bible.

  • If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
  • Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. Acts 16:31
  • There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

Once we get past the initial formula for salvation, everything else is built upon God’s foundation. Faith in Christ and obedience to His Word paves the foundation.

Sometimes, like Jesus mentioned in our verse for today, it may be the kind that takes prayer. As we read the Bible, the Holy Spirit will guide us as we walk in faith and obey Him.

Lord, thank you for giving us a firm foundation to walk on. Prepare us, Lord, for anything that comes our way, even if it involves casting out evil spirits.

Check out these other posts related to evil.

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