A couple years ago the half-shaft went out on my Pontiac Aztec (a car I thankfully no longer own). To replace it, I had to take off the tire, the wheel assembly and then remove the shaft from a specialized joint. I wrestled with that shaft for hours but it wouldn't budge. I googled the problem only to discover that removing the shaft required a special tool I did not own. After googling the tool and discovering that it cost more than I made in a week, I went out and wrestled with the shaft some more. Finally I gave up, reassembled the tire assembly, put the tire back on, and very carefully drove the vehicle to a repair shop, defeated. Normally, I can make due without the specialized tools recommended for repair jobs, but in this particular case there was simply no substitute for the right tool.
Jesus's disciples discovered something very similar when they tried to cast a demon out of a young man whose father had approached them in Jesus's absence. Though they tried, the disciples were simply incapable of casting out the demon that plagued the boy. Jesus, of course, had no problem with the demon when he tried (even though the disciples' failed attempts had threatened to undermine the father's faith), and the disciples questioned why they couldn't cast out the demon themselves. Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer” (Mark 9:29, NLT). In spite of the disciples years of training at the hands of Jesus and their awareness of how he operated, they had forgotten the most vital tool at their disposal: prayer.
Sometimes, we forget the power and the necessity of prayer. We begin to think that our Bible studies and our training courses and our evangelism seminars are enough. But for many of the tasks we face, the essential, indispensable tool that we need is prayer. Prayer is essential to connect us to the power of God, and no matter how skilled we may be in other areas, no matter how knowledgeable or educated, we will inevitably face many things that simply cannot be overcome except through prayer, inviting God into the situation with the power only God has at his disposal. Without prayer, we will find ourselves butting our heads against the walls in frustration and failure rather than rejoicing in magnificent displays of God's power.
Whatever your problems and whatever your skills, don't forget the indispensable power of prayer. Prayer is always the right tool for the job.