William Brassey Hole
TO CHEW ON: "Jesus said to him, 'If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.'" Mark 9:23
The demon-possessed youth was a particularly difficult case. His problem was long-standing and the disciples' attempts at exorcism had failed. We find two clues about how to get prayers answered in this story of the man and his unfortunate son.
"If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes," Jesus told the father. The dad was quick to ask for help in this department: "Lord, help my unbelief." I am reminded of Jesus' experience in Nazareth where Matthew 13:58 says, "He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief." I don't think that means their unbelief limited His power, but it did impact His willingness to work miracles in that place. Jesus chose not to in an atmosphere of doubt.
2. Pray and fast
"Why could we not cast it out?" the disciples asked. Jesus replied, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting."
But when did Jesus pray and fast for this? He didn't check out for an hour or so between hearing the man's request and healing the boy. One can only assume that He meant we can live a life of such earnest waiting on God (with regular prayer and fasting) that we are constantly prayed up and ready for any difficult case that comes our way.
It's so simple: Believe and live a life of prayer-and-fasting readiness. But it's also so hard. I have a long way to go!
PRAYER: Dear God, I have some longstanding requests in with You. My prayer today is, "Lord, help my unbelief." And are you telling me that some fasting may also be in order? Amen.
John Piper began his 1991 sermon "Do You Ever Fast for More of God's Power?":
"Loren Cunningham, general director of Youth With a Mission, described his experience in praying and fasting for three days with 12 co-workers in 1973. As they prayed, the Lord revealed that they should pray for the downfall of a demonic force identified to them as the “prince of Greece.” The same day in New Zealand and Europe, YWAM groups received a similar word from God. All three groups obeyed and came against this principality. Within 24 hours, a political coup changed the government of Greece, bringing greater freedom for mission activity in the country.
If this seems foreign to our experience, could part of the reason be that fasting is foreign to our experience? And could fasting be foreign to us because we are so far from the whole New Testament pattern of living in and by the supernatural power of the Spirit of God?" © John Piper, DesiringGod.org. Read all of "Do You Ever Fast for More of God's Power? (emphasis added).