A father brings his son to Jesus' disciples to cast out the spirit that has possessed him. This evil spirit has given his son seizures which made him mute. The disciples tried but they could not cast it out. Jesus comes upon the scene and asks what the problem is. The man tells the story of his son to Jesus who is frustrated with his disciples. The father asks Jesus to help his son.
Jesus tells the man that all things are possible for those who believe. The man asks for help with his unbelief. Jesus casts out the deaf and dumb spirit. After convulsions this evil spirit leaves the boy. He appears to be dead but Jesus takes him by the hand and the boy gets up.
Later the disciples ask Jesus why they couldn't cast out the evil spirit. Jesus said that this one will not come out by anything but prayer and fasting.
Let's put some significant things together. Jesus said that anything was possible by believing. Jesus also said this type of evil spirit required prayer and fasting. Therefore, we should be able to say that prayer and fasting increases our faith for believing.
These two exercises clear out our unbelief. We pray because we believe. We fast, not to use it as a bargaining tool, but to focus our praying. Fasting without prayer is just going hungry. Fasting wth prayer is a life-changing, powerful activity which increases our faith, makes us listen to what God is saying and makes us abandon the trivial things which distract us from what we believe.
Fasting with prayer will give us the faith to see the most improbable events come true. It will help us hear God tell us that He will do. It will help us accept what He will do. Fasting with prayer will give God the glory for the great things that are done.
Much has been said about believing. Some people think that believing is something that you make yourself do. They think that it is down in there and all you have to do is let it out. Faith is a gift from God. You receive faith to believe in Jesus. You receive faith as God's gift throughout your life. You are able to receive this gift by being emptied of your contrary beliefs. You really can't believe two opposite things with faith. You may have doubts but doubts are a lack of faith, not believing in two things at once. Prayer clarifies faith. Our beliefs, then, will come from our faith.
There is little doubt that evil spirits still run practically unhindered on this planet. They are tearing families apart through selfishness, greed, lust, drugs, etc. There is little doubt that people have tried many programs to help their loved ones come back to them. They have gone through counseling and programs that have helped many come back from being influenced by such evil spirits. But some of these will not come out without prayer and fasting. They will not come out until there is a belief that is so strong that the evil spirits cannot stand up against this faith.
The easier thing is to abandon your loved one. This man could have left his son and gone his way. He didn't because he loved his son. He was so desperate that he brought his son to Jesus. I wonder how many people would say, "I believe Jesus can straighten out my loved one but, please, Jesus, help my unbelief!" I wonder how many will pray and fast one day per week to see their faith increase so that they can see their loved come back.
I know that many who read this blog will want to say that sometimes there is no getting your loved one back. I must admit that I don't always see a good solution. I have had the Lord tell me that someone will harden his heart beyond the Lord's influence. The Lord never forces us. He invites. This is why you see Jesus standing at the door knocking rather than crashing through the door. Sometimes people will never answer the door.
But I have seen more often that God has worked in the life of a son who, like the Prodigal, came home. I have seen fathers and mothers relationships restored to their children, each other and to the Lord. I have seen people give up their addictions and change into very godly people. Most of the time I have seen this happen because someone did not give up on them and prayed.
Right now you may not have the faith to believe that the thing that you most desperately want is possible. Your child may be so far away from the Lord that it seems impossible to believe. I ask you not to give up on that child. Your spouse may be so far away that it would take a miracle to bring him or her back. I ask you to believe in miracles.
You will find yourself praying and fasting if it really means that much to you. You see, some evil spirits take that much belief to be cast out.
Mark 9:23 (NIV)
23 "'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."