When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Mark 9:20

The first thing that happened when they brought the boy to Jesus was that his condition deteriorated. Have you ever prayed for a situation and the first thing that happened was thing got worse? Even after Jesus prayed we read, ‘The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead”’ (verse 26).

Sometimes we feel that our prayers have been useless, the situation has deteriorated so much it seems pointless to continue praying. Yet this is the very time to persist in prayer. The devil realises his time is short and is doing everything he can to discourage us. Meanwhile, we could be on the verge of a breakthrough. Jesus can bring life out of a potentially dead situation if we keep praying.

At the end of the story, the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t drive out the demon. Jesus replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer (and fasting)” (verse 29). Some situations can only be solved through concentrated, focussed prayer.

James writes, “The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available” (James 5:16 AMP). Our prayers aren’t one-off, wishy-washy or half-hearted. Sometimes answers are delayed to test our resolve, strengthen our convictions and to teach us steadfastness in prayer. We look for quick fit solutions but God is looking for perseverance.

This story encourages us to keep praying in the face of disappointment even if our prayers are nothing more than, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (verse 24).