After the disciples had tried and failed to cast out an impure spirit, they went to Jesus in confusion, asking, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” (Mark 9:28). Jesus replied that it was only through prayer—only through concentration and more concentration on him, only through a personal relationship with him—that such a spirit could be driven out. The disciples had tried to do God’s work by drawing on their own ideas rather than by concentrating on God’s power.

If you approach things as the disciples did, you will remain as powerless as they were. You may be eager to work for God, but if you work for him without knowing him, you’ll end up working against him. Sometimes you are faced with a difficult situation and you pray about it, yet nothing happens—not on the outside. But if you are concentrating on Jesus, if you have a personal relationship with him, you know that emancipation will be given. The focus of your service must be to make sure that there is nothing between Jesus and yourself. If there is, you can only overcome it by facing it and going straight through it into his presence, not by ignoring it in irritation. Face the issue with the Lord, and eventually that very thing, along with everything that’s happened in connection with it, will glorify him.

The one purpose for which we are in this world is concentration on God. Get the noisy cries of religion out of your ears, the cries that say, “Do this and don’t do that.” Never! Jesus says, “Be this and that, and I will do through you.”

Wisdom from Oswald

Both nations and individuals have tried Christianity and abandoned it, because it has been found too difficult; but no man has ever gone through the crisis of deliberately making Jesus Lord and found Him to be a failure. The Love of God—The Making of a Christian, 680 R