The movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is the story of Indiana Jones (Indy) and his quest to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis do. The US government feared what would happen if the Nazis were to gain control of the Ark and its unlimited power. Along the way, Indy meets up with Miriam and the two of them search out the ark together. In one scene, she’s kidnapped and Indy’s looking for her. In the process, he comes face to face with a giant swordsman. The swordsman wants Indy to know that he’s going to die from the best and goes through all kinds of gyrations with the sword to show his skill. After a while, Indy shakes his head, and ends the confrontation by shooting him.
It’s a movie, it wasn’t real life, so that scene is humorous. It reminds me of a lot of people trying to make sure that everyone sees them as the best at what they do. They’ll argue and display their abilities. They’ll put down others who might be planning to do the same thing, but they never get down to doing it. Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration and ran into that kind of situation. “When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. … ‘What are you arguing with them about?’ he asked. … After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’ He replied, ‘This kind can come out only by prayer.’” (Mark 9:14, 16, 28-29)
While Jesus was up on the mountain, a man brought his son to the disciples because the son was demon possessed. He wanted the disciples to cast it out. Perhaps they tried a few times and nothing happened. Perhaps the teachers of the law started in right away on the argument. Whatever the case may have been, when Jesus reached them, the demon still hadn’t been cast out and the teachers of the law and the disciples were arguing. Jesus asked a few questions and then cast the demon out of the boy. The disciples were shamed and they asked Jesus why they weren’t able to do that. Jesus’ response was classic: this kind comes out only by prayer. He didn’t add, “not by arguing” although He could have. It’s interesting to note that we don’t see Jesus praying then and there. If prayer is how we communicate with God, Jesus was noting that He was in constant communication with God or, in more modern terms, He was prayed up already because He prayed constantly.
There are two important lessons here: the first is that we should be in constant communication with God so that we will know what to do and be ready to respond. Sometimes people will ask questions that we’re unprepared to answer, so we respond with the phrase “let me pray about it.” There are other things that we should be ready to do because of our constant communication with God. Given the chance to share the gospel or to serve in the church, we should be able to respond immediately because we’re obedient to God and because we’ve prayed about opportunities to share and serve. If I’ve been praying about where to serve in the church and someone gives me an area to serve, then I shouldn’t need to pray about it! I’ve already prayed. (And, the answer might be no.) The second lesson is that we need to spend less time proving we’re right, or skilled, or whatever and just do what God puts in front of us to do. The last I checked, argument was not a spiritual gift; service is. We need to be so prayed up that when opportunities to serve come, we can just do it. Forego the arguments and show by your actions that God is in this situation, and He is using you.
Oh Lord, let me stay in communication with You at all times. Let me be ready to serve others as You would when opportunities arise.