The Demoniac, Part 2—False Prayers | Mark 5:6–8
And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”
One of the most terrifying passages in all of Scripture is from the Sermon on the Mount. There, Jesus doesn’t just say that He will cast out unbelievers, but also many calling Him “Lord, Lord” (Mt 7:21–23)! Here, we see pictured false prayers to Jesus from the demons in this man, and we must learn from their negative example.
The demons “worship” as they speak to Jesus. The term “fell down” is a term that means “bowed down” (NASB) and can mean that they “worshipped” (KJV, NKJV). Even so, the mere act of prostrating oneself before Jesus doesn’t constitute true worship—the Roman soldiers would also bow down, but in mockery (15:19). Assuming a physical position of kneeling or bowing before Jesus does not fool Him into thinking worship is occurring.
The demons “pray” their request to Jesus. They ask not to be tormented at that moment, and they refer to Jesus and God the Father using honorific titles. Their request, however, comes wrapped in contempt, not contrition. They begin in v. 7 by singularly and essentially saying, “Leave me alone!” It’s a prayer uttered through a sneer. Similarly, simply calling Jesus “Lord” while seeking to continue in sin is no guarantee of answered prayer.
These shallow prayers from creatures lacking depth mustn’t be our model, for God is not obligated to hear any such prayers (Jn 9:31; Js 4:3). Instead, if we repent and “confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us” (1 Jn 1:9). We’re told as believers to pray, but “with thanksgiving” (Phil 4:6). False prayers are mere necessities to escape from under the thumb of Christ to maintain the status quo; true prayers mark a desire to be changed and to be near one’s beloved Savior.