I believe they were sincere; the apostles that is. I believe they acted in sincerity. They came upon a boy possessed by a demon. The boy was in need and the father was desperate, but with all their training the disciples could not help the boy. Jesus, however, simply commanded to spirit to leave and it left. So it was a natural question for the disciples to ask, “Why couldn’t we drive him out?” Which was another way of saying, “Why are we powerless?” Jesus’ answer was probably as perplexing as their failed attempts to emulate Him. “This kind come out only by prayer.” Which kind? Who knows! He does not clarify which kind, we know only that something about that kind required more power than the disciples had, greater faith than they possessed. Rather than giving them more tools, Jesus told them to pray. They were to pray, but Jesus simply exercised his own right and power in commanding the evil spirit to leave the boy. God quite often chooses to work through us in power. At other times we encounter things of “that kind” and He tells us to pray. It is not that we sometimes pray and sometimes do not pray. We are to “pray continually” (1Thessalonians 5:17). In the same way, we never arrived at a place of maturity where we will not require God’s guidance and empowerment for ministry. We are wholly dependent on the Spirit in order to “do even greater things” (John 14:12). Sure, some things we may achieve through the gifts He has given us, or through His renewing our minds. But by necessity, all that we must do for His Kingdom is beyond us. It must be so, or we would have no need of Him. It must be so if we are to do truly great things. For the small things our minds naturally pursue, we need only grit, will, and determination. For the great things of His Kingdom, we need spiritual empowerment; we must pray.
Only by Prayer
“He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer” (Mark 9:29).