Scripture: Mark 9:29 CEB “He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” A team of about 25 people had been preparing for months. The team arrived before the participants and got everything ready for their arrival. The time of preparation was a wonderful time of anticipating all that God would do over the weekend retreat experience. The participants, and many of the team members, were college students. This was a pivotal time in their lives where a lot of decisions were being made that directly affected their future. The team all knew how important the weekend could be for the participants. They knew because they had been there before and all attended the same retreat at a different time in their lives. Every one of them found it meaningful and wanted to serve and help others to have a similar experience. We were all set for the weekend and had one last time of prayer with the team before the participants arrived. As the participants arrived and the retreat officially began, there was one participant that was very reluctant and unsure. Through every step of the retreat he became more and more resistant. At the end of the first day of the retreat the leaders gathered to discuss how things were going and any adjustments that might be needed. This young man was brought up and we discussed what we should do. It was decided that we needed to pray and allow the Holy Spirit to work. On the second day it appeared our prayers were not working. At around noon the young man had packed his bags and was leaving the retreat. Many on the leadership team believed we should not let him leave. One of the members said, “We have to let him leave, but we also have to pray for him.” So, we let him leave and we began to pray even harder. Well, about two hours later the young man returned. As he returned he spoke to the leadership to tell us what had happened. As his girlfriend was driving him home, he was overwhelmed with the feeling that he should return. As adamant as he had been about leaving, he was even more convinced he should return. He could only say that he believed God was telling him he had made a mistake and needed to return. The only thing that had changed was his heart. I believe it was because we stepped up our prayer efforts on his behalf. I think of this experience from my life every time I read the above Scripture verse. There are things in everyone’s life that can only come out by prayer. It most likely is not demon possession as the context of the verse describes. However, it may be something else that we have allowed to possess us. We many times allow sin, shame, guilt, embarrassment, or other issues to possess us. We allow them more head space and power over our life than they deserve. The things we insist on holding onto and allow to possess us are very difficult to get out of our life. These are the things that can only come out by prayer. We need to pray that God would empower us to jettison these things from our lives and keep them from possessing us. We cannot do this in our own power. We need God’s help for these things to be gone. We need to realize and confess that these things can only come out by prayer. What possesses you today? Take it to God in prayer. Invite others to pray for you as well. If it is something deeply personal find one godly friend whom you can confide in and ask him or her to pray for you. If it is something you have been dealing with for a long time, realize that you cannot do it alone. These things can only come out by prayer. You are not weak or defeated … you need prayer. Take stock of what is possessing you today and give it to God in prayer: the guilt, the shame, the loneliness. Give it all to God in prayer. If you are dealing with deep issues of blame, guilt, shame, etc., please speak to someone. I would recommend talking to your Pastor, a Christian Counselor, or a well-respected and godly friend. You do not have to go through deep issues alone. Prayer: Holy God, I do not want to let anything possess me. I want to offer whatever is possessing me to you by prayer. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Allow me to follow you and you alone. Empower me through your Holy Spirit to give all my life to you. In the name of Jesus. Amen.