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“This kind goeth not forth but by prayer and fasting.”—Mark ix. 29.

THE evil spirit was still enthroned. The disciples had been unable to cast it out. The victim remained in his awful servitude. In some way or other the divine, liberating energies had been impeded, and did not flow in emancipating strength. The disciples commanded, but there was no expulsion. Their word did not issue as a work. The words which they spake were not spirit, they were not life. There was something wrong. The ministers were not equal to their task. Their power was inadequate. The current was defective, and in these relationships a defective current always means there is something wanting in the wires. We are not straitened in God, we are not straitened in ourselves. “Why could not we cast him out?”


In answer to their puzzled inquiry, the Lord gives a twofold explanation of their defeat. First, He traces their lack of power to a deficiency of prayer, which always implies imperfect spiritual communion. And with this primary lack he names the neglect of fasting, which has resulted in the physical imprisonment and oppression of the spirit. The body had been allowed too much licence, and the spirit was given too little freedom. The body had trespassed beyond its appointed boundaries, and the spirit had not entered into its purposed inheritance. And because of this double negligence they had limited the Holy One to Israel. The dislodging powers of His Spirit were hindered, and they could not work in the ministry of a strong and gracious expulsion. The bodies and souls of His ministers were not fully surrendered, and because of this defective consecration they could not receive the needful strength. They had the form of words, but they lacked the power.

Now these two causes are operative in our own day, and because of these negligences evil tyrannies are still upon their thrones. We neglect our bodies. We allow them to be 89masters when they are intended to be servants. We pamper them. We are afraid to confront them with a stern denial. We shrink from assigning seasons of healthy abstinence. Often the very last thing we are prepared to do is to curb our appetites, and hold our passions under chains like hungry hounds. And the pampered always means a fettered spirit. “Take heed,” said the Master, “lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting.”

The obtrusiveness of the body always disinherits the soul. For when the body usurps dominion the freedom of the spirit is impaired. The soul is like an eagle which is confined to the barn-yard when he was made to wing his flight through vast reaches in the upper air. The soul is imprisoned in the inch instead of journeying in the infinite. The spiritual powers, which were intended to explore the secrets of God, move on the surface of things. And so it comes to pass that, being straitened in ourselves, the grace of God is straitened. God has no large, open medium through which to pour His holy power. And because of lack of power we cannot hurl iniquities from their thrones. 90We see the evil tyranny, but we cannot move it! We command it to go, but it laughs in our faces “This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

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