And He told them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer [and fasting].”
The fast this year brought about some nasty side affects. There was the perpetual stomach growling, the nasty headaches, the nastier attitude—and add to the equation that I had to call Comcast in the middle of all of it. You can be pretty certain there wasn't much holy happening. In fact, there was even question as to why I was doing it at all.
But when I doubt the "why," I’m struck by the words of Matthew 17:21 and Mark 9:29: “this kind can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.” And I'm also struck by Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount where He says, “When you pray... When you fast.”
I’ve come to believe that fasting, combined with prayer, is one of the most underutilized weapons in the arsenal of the believer.
The world has gotten darker, the enemy more vicious, the battle lines more clearly drawn than they’ve been in the history of our world. The enemy is on the prowl. And all of these truths make it clearer to my heart that I’m in desperate need of God. All of Him. And all that He has to offer.
And I’ve discovered that times of fasting and dedicated prayer, once I get my body emptied of its automatic responses of nastiness, bring me to a place of sweet communion—an even greater place of faith. And in that place of faith, I see God move.
The boy was demon possessed. This father was desperate. He brought him to Jesus' disciples first. That proved fruitless. So he brought him to Jesus. The heart culture of that generation frustrated Jesus. He saw them as unbelieving and unresponsive. And He knew He could do so much with just a little belief—a mustard seed type of belief.
Wow! He could move mountains with that. So He challenged them in their place of faith, while reminding them that nothing is impossible. And while adding still that this came about only through fasting and prayer. Two tools that they were yet to fully utilize because Jesus was still present with them.
Today isn't much different. Lives have been crippled by Satan and his schemes. Families are desperate. And so they bring their needs, their crippled, their diseased to us. They bring their needs to God's disciples and say, "I need healing." And our heads turn around as if to search the room for someone who’s qualified.
But we have what’s needed. When we begin to use this beautiful gift of fasting and combine it with the privilege of prayer and direct access to God, our faith rises to places that can look at the broken, hurting, diseased souls of our culture and offer them the hope and healing they so desperately need.
I'm not a huge fan of giving up fried chicken or McDonald's Cokes for extended periods of time. I'm not even a huge fan of giving up television or social media for extended periods of time, if that’s the kind of fast I feel called to.
But I’m desperate to see God move and lives healed and my own family transformed. If that means that faith for that kind of healing is found when I fast and pray, then may each stomach growl bring me to my knees. And may my faith grow. And let the healing come.
- What are some places of healing in your life or in the life of others that you desperately need God to move in?
- Have you ever fasted? Why or why not?
- Do you think a time of fasting could be a useful tool combined with prayer to invite God into these situations of your life? What do you think might be accomplished?
I encourage you to begin to ask God what fasting might look like for you in this season of your life. And there are some wonderful books on fasting that could illuminate the power of this discipline in your life as well:
Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough: A Guide to Nine Biblical Fasts (Elmer L. Towns)
Fasting: Opening the door to a deeper, more intimate, more powerful relationship with God (Jentezen Franklin)