How to Partner with God in His Kingdom Work
Topic: Discipleship Passage: Mark 9:14–9:29
HOW TO PARTNER WITH GOD IN HIS KINGDOM WORK
An Exposition of Mark 9:14-29
By Pastor Brian Wilbur
Date: March 21, 2021
Series: Mark: Knowing and Following God’s Son
Note: Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
THE SCRIPTURAL TEXT
Holy Scripture says:
14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?”17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” (Mark 9:14-29)
This is God's Holy Word, and it is for our good. Let's pray.
Father, we thank you for calling us into fellowship with your Son. The Lord Jesus invited us to come, take up our cross, follow him, participate in his work. Father, we know that this life to which we are called is beyond our ability. The opportunity that you have given to Amber this summer is beyond her ability. But we thank you that you invite us to depend on you, to draw strength from you, to be conduits of your grace and power and love working through us to bless others. Father, we pray that you would encourage us and strengthen us and fortify us through this passage, this morning. In Jesus’ name, amen.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE PASSAGE
After the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ was revealed to Peter, James, and John on the mountain (Mark 9:2-8), Jesus and those three disciples descended the mountain (Mark 9:9-13) and then they finally meet up with the other nine disciples (Mark 9:14). Maybe there was a larger group of disciples as well. But certainly the other nine disciples are in view here, and the contrast between the earlier passage about the transfiguration and the present passage about the demon-possessed boy, is very sharp. Glory and splendor on the mountain, commotion and heartache on the ground.
If I may speak metaphorically, we do not do life on the mountain. We do life on the ground where people are hurting, and we seem powerless to do anything about it. Commotion, heartache, failed remedies, disappointment with people who raised our hopes but let us down, and then an argument to top it off. Arguments that generate a lot of hot air but accomplish absolutely nothing. This is life on the ground, and it ain't pretty. But Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow him and learn from him in the real-life, suffering circumstances of ministry.
As Jesus and the three disciples met up with the other nine disciples, there was a big to-do going on. You have the nine disciples. You have this great crowd. You have the scribes – these teachers of the law who we know have been in the habit of being in conflict with Jesus. And soon we're going to meet a very desperate father. As we have come to expect, the crowds are mesmerized by Jesus, and when they see him they are very excited. They are worked up, and they run to Jesus and greet him. Jesus inquires as to what the fuss is all about. The disciples don't say anything, the scribes don't say anything, and then out of the crowd comes a man, a broken-hearted father, whose son is being wrecked by a demon. This unclean spirit makes the boy mute and throws him on the ground.
“Teacher, I brought my son to you” (v. 17). But of course, Jesus wasn't there initially. He had been up on the mountain with Peter, James, and John. ”I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” (v. 18) Do you have the picture? A boy is in bondage, the father is desperate, and the disciples couldn't help.
Jesus saw this real-life situation of a malevolent spirit wreaking havoc on a boy – and no one else being able to help. And for all the effort of the father to get help, and for all the effort of the disciples to attempt help, the only thing that got generated out of this was an argument between the scribes and the disciples. If that isn't a picture of our world, I don't know what is. We've got a problem. We can't fix it. And now we're arguing about it. This happens in people’s homes, and it happens in the centers of political power. When Jesus saw this real-life situation, he saw it for what it really was – a world without faith in the true and living God.
In Mark 8:38, Jesus had described the world as an “adulterous and sinful generation”. And here he describes it as a “faithless generation”. And he laments and grieves over it: “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?” (v. 19) Human beings ought to grow up, and ought to know the Lord God Almighty, and ought to trust him, and ought to walk with him on the path of obedience, and ought to exercise wise and loving dominion over the earth, and ought to be cultivators of that which is good and wholesome, and ought to be protectors and defenders who guard their towns and homes and children from the evil one. That's what we ought to be. But a faithless generation throws it all away and turns their world into a haunt for demons.
How long? How long? This must have been a very sobering lament for those nine disciples to hear, because when Jesus laments the faithless generation, he must have had them in mind also, for they had just proven unable to heal the boy. The father – he had a measure of faith, he at least thought to bring his boy to Jesus, and to Jesus' disciples. But where is the faith of the disciples? Why are they powerless to help the boy? They cast out demons back in Chapter 6 (see Mark 6:7-13), but why not now? Where is their faith?
Finally Jesus says “Bring him to me.” (v. 19) So the boy is brought to Jesus, and the unclean spirit loses its cool in the presence of the Lord and throws the boy into a wild convulsion. Jesus inquires of the father and learns that his son has been afflicted by this demon “[from] childhood” (v. 21). From a very young age the spirit sought to destroy the child by “[casting] him into fire and into water” (v. 22). That is always the purpose of the devil and his minions – to destroy human beings.
It is at this point that the father asks Jesus for help: “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” (v. 22) Now we know, having journeyed through the first eight chapters of the Gospel of Mark, we know that Jesus can heal the boy. But first Jesus directs his attention not to the boy, but to the father. Indeed Jesus puts the burden of responsibility on the boy’s dad. The father had said to Jesus, “[If] you can do anything”. But now Jesus turns to the father and says, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” (v. 23) Do you believe? Do you trust me? If you do trust me, do you realize what your faith can accomplish?
The father of the child actually does believe, however imperfectly, and he makes this beautiful confession in verse 24: “I believe; help my unbelief!” Whenever we find our heart drawn out to Jesus to trust him, and yet at the same time know that we are hampered by a divided heart or a doubting heart, then we ought to pray this beautiful prayer: Lord, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
It’s very interesting to note that in verse 22 the father asked “help us” but now in verse 24 he asks “help my unbelief”. Help us has shifted to help me! When the father said “help us” in verse 22, surely he was focused on his boy, and by “help us” he meant help my boy, which of course in turn would make the boy’s father happy, too. But the greatest help that the father needs is not the indirect help that would come from his boy being healed, as wonderful as that would be. The greatest need of the father is to have his own unbelief overcome. Do you remember when we looked at that passage back in Chapter 8 about how following Jesus as a disciple means that we have to die to everything that comes between us and Jesus? An afflicted son, as bad as that is, need not come between me and Jesus. But pockets of unbelief will always come between me and Jesus. Lord, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Heal my unbelief. Overcome my unbelief.
The conversation between Jesus and the boy's father comes to a close, and the crowd is “running together” (v. 25) – and no doubt they're curious, probably wildly curious, about this boy who has been thrown into a convulsion and is lying on the ground, and they wonder what is going to happen. And as this commotion is erupting around him once again, Jesus knew it was time. So he rebuked the unclean spirit, commanding it to depart and never return to the boy. The departure of the wicked spirit from its host was highly dramatic. It gave the boy one final, terrible convulsion, leaving him “like a corpse” (v. 26). Most of the onlookers thought the boy was dead. But the boy was not dead, though he was certainly spent and worn out. Verse 27 says, “Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.” This is a beautiful picture of redemption – of death and resurrection. William Lane said – I love this quote – he said, “The dethroning of Satan is always a reversal of death and an affirmation of life.” Jesus restored the broken boy, that he might henceforth live free from the tyranny of Satan.
Finally after all that commotion and tension, Jesus and his disciples find the comfort of a house. Whose house Mark doesn't say. And there is a question hanging over those nine disciples. And they ask Jesus, “Why could we not cast it out?” (v. 28) And Jesus answered, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer. “ (v. 29)
THE WORLD AS IT IS
That's an overview of the passage. Now I want to begin to let this passage work on our hearts and our minds, and press us towards more faithful discipleship. There are some profound lessons here. But first let's remember that life on the ground – this real-life trouble depicted in this passage – this is where we live. We live in a world where sons and daughters get taken captive by the enemy, and where dads and moms are unable to rescue. And the background to this world of ours is a background of sin. It's not as if perfect parents have perfect kids, and then somehow – inexplicably – a demon shows up and ruins the show. It's not like that, because the show is already in tatters.
“[Sin] came into the world through one man, and death [came into the world] through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). This is the world that we live in. And ever since Adam and Eve rejected God's instruction and followed the serpent's counsel instead, everything has been bent the wrong way. Every generation of fathers and mothers, every generation of sons and daughters, is alienated from God and unprotected from the assaults of the enemy, apart from grace.
Ephesians 2 tells us that to be dead in sin means to be driven along the path of disobedience under the controlling influence of Satan (Ephesians 2:1-3). Satan and his demons wreak havoc on people, they lie and deceive, they blind and distort, they entice and enthrall, they oppress and oppose, they seize and destroy. The Bible teaches us not to see the world as some safe neutral spiritual and moral zone where you just kind of discover things along the way. It's not like that. The Bible tells us that we should understand that the world is a war zone. The apostle John wrote that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). And then two verses later he says, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21) Satan is the one who charts the course of this sinful world, and he dangles pleasant idols and plausible arguments in front of us. He is always seeking someone to devour. This sinful world is not to be played with or experimented with, lest you make your life a habitation for evil spirits.
We don't know the backstory to this poor boy in Mark 9, but we can be sure that it is a backstory that involved sin: sin crouching at the door; the devil seeking a foothold; sin doubling down, corrupting hearts, tearing the moral fabric; an unclean spirit setting up shop, destroying one more young life and stealing away hope. This is the world we inhabit, in which ordinary sinners are vulnerable to the schemes of hostile powers.
Do you know the Scripture that says, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him” (Psalm 34:7)? Have you ever wondered who encamps around those who don't fear the Lord?
TO RECLAIM THE WORLD
Life on the ground in the nitty-gritty every day is rough going, but the Lord Jesus Christ came into this battered world and planted the flag of his Father's Kingdom in it. Jesus proclaimed, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) God's kingdom has come near. The Messiah King was sent on a mission to reclaim the world. “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9) Jesus is the One who reclaims the world for His Father. He redeems sinners by His grace. By his blood, he rescues us out of the kingdom of darkness. By his Spirit, he reconciles us to the Father. He raises us up and gives us new life. “Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.” (Mark 9:27)
This is what we've been seeing in the Gospel of Mark, one snapshot at a time. No single snapshot – no single healing or deliverance or miracle or teaching – no one snapshot tells the whole story. But every snapshot tells part of the story. And what part of the story is this snapshot in Mark 9 telling us? It may surprise you, it may not be what you think. The emphasis of this passage is not on what Jesus can do. We already know what Jesus can do. On many occasions, Jesus has cast out demons – Mark 1:23-27, 32-34, 39; Mark 5:1-20; Mark 7:24-30. We know that Jesus has the authority to cast out demons. And if Mark had simply wanted to tell us this truth one more time, he would have told the story a different way. But as it happens, Mark has a different emphasis. And the reason he has a different emphasis is because Jesus had a particular emphasis in this situation. What is the emphasis?
THE MAIN LESSON OF MARK 9:14-29
And this brings us to the main lesson. It shouldn't surprise you. Do you know why it shouldn’t surprise you? Because this whole section – Mark 8:22–10:52 – is about discipleship. It's about what it means for us to follow Jesus. This section isn’t just about Jesus, but about what it means for us to be His disciples. And here is the lesson of Mark 9:14-29 – God's will is to accomplish His work in partnership with his people. The emphasis in this passage is not on what Jesus can do, but on what His followers are able to do as they trust Him. Let me show you where this emphasis comes from, and then we'll drive into the application.
First, look at verse 19. The very fact that Jesus laments this “faithless generation” indicates that if this generation was faithful, then: 1) they wouldn't be in this mess; and 2) they could get themselves out of a mess if they were in it (for example, the the disciples could have successfully cast out the demon). But Jesus laments the “faithless generation” that is not walking in the strength that God supplies.
Next, look at verses 22 and 23. What does Jesus do after the man says, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (v. 22)? Jesus doesn't immediately go into the healing, instead he first wants to make it very clear that he desires to work on behalf of those who trust him. It is as if he says to the boy’s Dad: Do you have faith? Do you believe me? Jesus assures this desperate father, “All things are possible for the one who believes” (v. 23).
And then look at verses 28 and 29. After the disciples asked Jesus, “Why could we not cast it out?” (v. 28), Jesus doesn’t say, Well, there are some things that you won't be able to do. These really tough ones you will have to leave to me. He doesn't say that. Instead he says, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (v. 29) – with the implication that the disciples ought to have prayed. If they had prayed in faith, then they could have cast it out. That's the implication.
So the emphasis of this passage is a discipleship emphasis. It's about how to partner with God in His kingdom work. When Jesus calls us to follow him, he intends for us to participate in his mission. The Bible gives us a number of ways by which we participate in the Father's work. Mark 9:14-29 drives home two of these ways.
LEARNING FROM THE PASSAGE
Now if you are the sort of listener who likes to know at what point in the sermon we have shifted to application – we're here! But first I have to say one other thing, okay? God has an agenda for this passage and so does Satan. Do you understand? Satan wants to use this passage as ammunition to beat you down, and then leave you there. And sometimes, sadly, Christians play along with that. Now God may indeed want to convict you and sober you and humble you through this passage, but ultimately he wants you who are his people to be helped: he wants to build you up and strengthen you and invite you into more faithful participation in fellowship and partnership with the Lord. So keep that in mind as we seek to learn from this passage.
The big lesson is that Jesus calls us to partner with the Father in the Father's kingdom work. There are two important applications that flow out of this big lesson.
PARTNER WITH GOD BY TRUSTING HIM (v. 19-24)
Here's the first application, which flows out of verses 19-24: partner with God in his kingdom work by trusting him. We do not want to be a “faithless generation” (v. 19). Instead, we want to be a believing people. “All things are possible for one who believes” (v. 23). What is so insightful about this passage is that Jesus wants to emphasize the role of faith in the healing – and not the sufferer’s faith (that is, the boy’s faith), but the father's faith.
We may safely assume that Jesus already knew that the father had a measure of faith. The father had demonstrated faith by bringing his boy to Jesus in the first place (v. 17), and then by asking the disciples to cast it out (v. 18), and now by pleading with Jesus for compassion and help (v. 22). But Jesus doesn't want the role of faith to be quietly assumed. Instead, he wants to call attention to it. Therefore, in the face of this seemingly impossible situation, in which the father feels helpless and powerless, Jesus does an amazing thing. He looks at the man and says, “‘If you can!’ All things are possible for one who believes.” (v. 24) Jesus wants the boy's father to know and understand that there is a God in heaven who wants to accomplish his work in partnership with those who trust him. Jesus wants his disciples to know and understand that “the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9) Jesus wants the clamoring crowds to know and understand that the living God “acts [works] for those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4). Jesus wants us to know and understand that the God who does the impossible – the God for whom nothing is impossible – delights to do what is impossible for us to do, through our faith. “All things are possible for one who believes.”
Maybe this doesn't sound very Baptist. But I'm not in this pulpit as a Baptist or as an anti-Baptist. I'm not in this pulpit as a Charismatic or as an anti-Charismatic. I'm here as a disciple. And my desire is that the uncomfortable edges of every passage would grab you and establish you in more faithful discipleship. It's not about what the labels tell us to expect. It's about what the Word actually says, and our humble and imperfect attempt to grasp it, lay hold of it, and be changed by it. And it's very clear – Mark's Gospel is very clear – that our Lord prefers to do his work in partnership with those who trust him. Consider:
In Mark 2:5 – “And when Jesus saw their faith. he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.””
In Mark 5:34 – “And he said to her [the hemorrhaging woman], “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.””
In Mark 7:24-30 – The word faith doesn't actually occur there, but the reality is present. Jesus said to the Syrophoenician woman, whose daughter had a demon, “For this statement” – the statement of hers that gave voice to her faith – “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” (Mark 7:29)
In Mark 11:22 – Jesus says, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.” This is mountain-moving faith – you've probably heard of it. It's not about yachts, Lamborghinis, lucrative promotions, or physical comfort and ease. And it's not as if God wants the Alps (physical mountains) in the Atlantic (a physical sea). But there are demons to resist and overcome. There is darkness to push back. There are strongholds to break. There are disciples to establish. There is a gospel to preach, and open doors for mission to walk through and pray through. And there are wicked men to be protected from, “[for] not all have faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:2), as Paul says. There is divine armor to put on, and a battle to fight, and a heavenly kingdom to display. And Jesus says – in Matthew 9 – “According to your faith be it done to you.” (Matthew 9:30) According to your faith! And there is a sobering contrast in Mark 6 – “And he [Jesus] could do no mighty work there [in Nazareth], except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.” (Mark 6:5)
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself, delight to do their work through people who trust him.
PARTNER WITH GOD BY PRAYING EARNESTLY TO HIM (v. 28-29)
Now let’s move to the second application, which flows out of verses 28-29. One of the key ways that faith expresses itself is in earnest and expectant prayer. Thus the first application about faith leads right into the second application about prayer: partner with God in His kingdom work by praying earnestly to him.
The disciples asked, “Why could we not cast it out?” They evidently attempted to cast it out, or their question would make no sense. They attempted it. Perhaps they laid their hands on the boy. Perhaps they ordered the unclean spirit to depart, but it wouldn't budge. They couldn't cast it out. They couldn't free the boy. Why not? Part of Jesus’ answer to their question is given in Matthew 17 and part of the answer is given here in Mark 9.
In Matthew 17, in response to the very same question after the very same circumstance, Jesus said, “Because of your little faith.” (Matthew 17:20) Do you see? The disciples were part of that “faithless generation” (Mark 9:19). Let this sink in: “Because of your little faith.”
And then here in Mark 9 Jesus says, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” (v. 29) Notice that Jesus is not concerned about techniques or formulas. Jesus didn’t say anything like, Come on guys, you forgot to say the right words in the right order; you forgot to repeat the mantra the seventh time; you forgot to bring the prayer cloth or the anointing oil. None of that. The reason that the disciples could not cast out the demon is because the attitude and posture of their hearts was wrong. They were not prayerfully relying on God – little faith, and no prayer – they were not prayerfully relying on God. They were prayerlessly relying on themselves.
Their technique and verbiage were probably just fine, and that may have been a big part of the problem. We've got this ‘cast out a demon’ talk down pat. It worked in Chapter 6 (see Mark 6:7-13). We know to say the words ‘in Jesus’ name’ and that ought to do the trick, right? No. It's an empty shell. Ministry activity is taking place, and God's power is not showing up. And all that ministry activity that is taking place looks really impressive until a demon shows up and you can't do anything about it. And because the disciples prayerlessly relied on themselves, and did not prayerfully rely on God, the result is that a boy remained under the power of an evil spirit a little bit longer. Our prayerless reliance on self has tragic implications for the other people that we might have otherwise helped. Let this sink in: other people do not have, because you have not asked in faith.
Die to Self-Reliance
Remember the basic call to discipleship in Mark 8:34 – deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. This basic call is given a lot of detail and definition in Chapters 91-10. It is wonderful instruction. The discipleship lesson here in Mark 9:14-29 is clear: Disciples must die to self-reliance. God's call upon you is to partner with him in his kingdom work, and this call is not intended to make you proud of the resources that you bring to the table, as if God got a really good business deal when you signed up. In and of yourself, you do not have the resources. You do not have the resources to cast out demons, to push back the darkness, to free the afflicted from Satan's tyranny. You do not have the resources to heal people's unbelief or to open their eyes to the majesty of God's Son. You do not have the resources to do God's Kingdom work, and yet God calls you to do it. Which means that you'd best be learning how to depend on God's resources, on God's sovereign ability, on God's gracious invitation to include you in his kingdom work.
Prayerfully Rely on God in Everything
Obviously the most direct application of this passage would be to situations of manifest demonic oppression. But we would be wise to apply the lesson to the whole scope of discipleship and gospel ministry, because what does it say in Ephesians 6? “[We] do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore [this is a call to have faith, to trust in the Lord] take up the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:12-13). And later the passage continues: “[And] take… the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:17-19). What is envisioned here is discipleship, the Christian life, fellowship, ministry, and missions all undergirded by prayer, because we are in a cosmic battle.
I have to wonder if we experience fewer spiritual breakthroughs than we would otherwise experience because we haven't learned to prayerfully depend on God, trusting him to intervene in people and places where darkness has reared its ugly head. Prayerful dependence on God is not supposed to be a prelude, an add-on, an afterthought, a last resort, or nice window dressing. It’s supposed to be the way – the way of life, the way of discipleship, the way of ministry, the way of bringing the good news of God's kingdom to other people.
Some people have an answer for everything, they have a cliche for everything they have a technique for everything, they have a recommended book or resource for everything, they have an opinion about everything. But where are the people who instinctively, consistently, and earnestly turn to the Lord in prayer? Where are the people who know that it is not enough to lament the fact that we didn't get around to prayer? We didn't have time for prayer. We ran out of time again, now we're tired. Now we have to go home. Marriage and parenting and neighboring and loving one another and encouraging younger disciples and taking the gospel to new people and places and supporting our missionaries is way too important to not get around to the most important thing. We must prayerfully depend on God. That's how we faithfully participate in his work. Praying “I believe; help my unbelief!” is a really good place to start.
Father, I pray against a fleshly response to this passage, with all kinds of guilt and shame and self-preoccupation with one's own failings. I pray against a fleshly effort to muster up strength. I pray against that. I pray that we would not use this passage as ammunition against someone else, to condemn someone else. I pray that we would hear Jesus speaking to us – to me – to get on our knees, to depend on you in prayer, to turn away from our own resources and trust in an all-sufficient God. Turn our hearts to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
 William L. Lane, The Gospel of Mark (The New International Commentary on the New Testament). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974: p. 334.
 Here I have borrowed from the language of James 4:2 in order to articulate one of the lessons from Mark 9:14-29. The last part of James 4:2 says, “You do not have, because you do not ask.” Mark 9:14-29 teaches us that, at least sometimes, Others do not have, because you do not ask.
James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Mark (The Pillar New Testament Commentary). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.
William L. Lane, The Gospel of Mark (The New International Commentary on the New Testament). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974.
Eckhard J. Schnabel, Mark (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries Vol. 2). Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2017.
James W. Voelz, Mark 1:1–8:26 (Concordia Commentary). St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2013.
Ben Witherington III, The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001.