THE DISCIPLES HIT A ROADBLOCK
MATTHEW 17:19-21 NKJV
19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Jesus had given His disciples the ability to cast out demons and heal the sick (Matthew 10:1). But when He was on the mountain with Peter, James, and John, the other disciples ran into a situation.
A man had brought his son to the disciples who had bad seizures. The demons would cause the boy to throw himself into water or fire. We can only imagine how difficult this was for this father. The disciples had a reputation for being able to help people in these situations, but this time they had no success. Evidently, they tried to deliver the boy but to no avail. So when Jesus shows up, the man brings his son to Jesus, who rebukes the demon, and the boy is set free.
Later the disciples came to Jesus when everyone was gone and inquired as to why they had no success with casting the demon out of the boy. We can discern from the way they asked Jesus that they were bewildered. They had been successful before, so what happened?
Jesus was straight up with His guys. He diagnosed the problem as being their unbelief. Some translations read little faith. Then Jesus told them what was available to them if they believed. Even mustard seed faith, when planted, could move mountains. And nothing would be outside the realm of possibility. These are Jesus’ words. If they would plant the seed of faith by speaking, even seemingly insurmountable barriers could be removed. Jesus, in effect, told them that their faith commands would move mountains and could have gotten rid of the demon.
Then Jesus gave some insight into a cure for unbelief. When more faith is required, prayer and fasting will make a difference.
We know from the scriptures that faith comes by hearing and hearing by God’s word (Romans 10:17). So where does prayer and fasting come into play? The beauty of prayer and fasting is how it strengthens our relationship with God. Prayer is our connection with Him, and fasting helps us keep our flesh under control. When we have spent time in God’s presence in prayer, we gain some of His perspective, and even the mountains we face seem smaller when we are standing with Him. And we must keep in mind that faith in God’s word is not a technical transaction. Faith in God’s word is relational. It is believing HIS word, not simply THE word.
Jesus was sharing with His disciples a secret to mountain-moving faith. Strong relationship with God breeds strong faith. Keeping our flesh under control helps us to stay stronger spirtually.
I am big on reading the Bible and always will be. Bible reading is foundational to our life with God. However, we also must spend time talking with and receiving from Him in prayer. I enjoy taking a psalm and reading it aloud as a prayer and basis for fellowship with God. Psalms 23 and 34 are two favorites.
Don’t ignore the prayer and fasting encouragement. We all have some mountains in our lives that need moving!
Dear Father, I desire to know You more through Your word and prayer and fasting. Show me how to make progress in these areas.