By Prayer and Fasting
However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21)
There was an event where Jesus cast a demon out of a young boy that His disciples were not able to perform (Matthew 17:14-21). Up to this time, the disciples had success in seeing people delivered from demonic oppression (Luke 10:17). What was so different about this case? Jesus rebuked His disciples for their unbelief but did acknowledge that this manner of deliverance required both prayer and fasting. What meaning might this have for today’s church?
A close examination of the Lord’s ministry at the time of this miracle may help provide needed clues. We will also consider examples from the life of Daniel and Moses to gain a greater perspective.
Peter, James, and John were witness to an extraordinary event. Jesus was transfigured before them in raiment’s likened to white light (vs 2). In addition, their eyes were opened to see both Moses and Elijah. What was all of this about? Moses and Elijah talked with Jesus and strengthened Him as He was preparing for his destiny with the cross (Luke 9:31).
Jesus was also affirmed and strengthened by the Father (vs 5). It should be noted that Jesus would soon face the all-out fury of the adversary in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42). It was immediately after this Transfiguration moment when this deliverance of the young boy took place. Perhaps the Lord was bringing to light an increasing level of demonic warfare and power that would soon emerge.
During the years of their respective ministries, Moses and Elijah came against powerful enemy forces such as Pharaoh (Exodus 3:10-11) and King Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 18-19:2). Moses and Elijah as the Two Witnesses of the last days will also be opposed by the antichrist (Revelation 11:7). Perhaps the disciples were over-confident in their ability to exercise authority over the demonic strongholds. Jesus sought to remedy this concern by allowing them to experience this momentary failure.
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 (Matthew 17:20).
After the Lord gives his disciples another rebuke for their unbelief, He shares the above parable. Is it really this simple, to speak a word by faith and see a mountain being displaced into the sea? Jesus makes clear that a mere “mustard seed” measure of faith has the potential to accomplish anything. Earlier, we saw the phenomena of Jesus being transfigured in the company of Moses and Elijah. This whole sequence of events does not seem to make any sense. What does the subject of fasting have to do with any of this?
The Lord oftentimes made direct and indirect references to the life of Daniel (Matthew 24:15, 18:21-22). There was a time when Daniel made a very conscious decision to separate himself from the entitlements and privileges of his day.
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself (Daniel 1:8).
Daniel was also a man who fasted and prayed on different occasions (Daniel 1:12-15, 10:3). The fruits of his fasting resulted in Daniel having wisdom, knowledge and understanding that was ten times greater than the wise men of his day (Daniel 1:17, 20). Another fruit of his fasting was to see the bigger picture. Daniel had insights into future empires that would rise and fall. He also had revelation of events that would shape our day.
Can mustard seed faith really move mountains? How about the stretching forth of a Rod where the waters of the Red Sea opened up? This occurred due to Moses being exactly where God wanted him to be at this defining moment of Israel’s history.
It’s true, God gives us a measure of power and authority as believers. Like the disciples of the Lord, we to need to be reminded of the greater battles and opportunities that are to come. Intercessory Prayer and Fasting is a primary key in growing in true kingdom authority. It also serves as a key to understanding the power and simplicity of Mustard Seed Faith.
On the surface, Matthew 17:1-21 appears to contain several unrelated accounts but in reality they aid our understanding of the importance of Prayer and Fasting. As we progress in 2023, Lighthouse Evangelism will be placing an added emphasis on fasting as a complement to Intercessory Prayer. What Jesus spoke to His disciples He is speaking to us today. Are you ready?
Monday: Esther 4:16
Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”
Tuesday: Luke 2:37
And this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
Wednesday: Nehemiah 1:4
So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
Thursday: Matthew 4:2
And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
Friday: Isaiah 58:6
Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke?
Saturday: Joel 2:12
But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Sunday: Daniel 9:3
Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
All scriptures are quoted from the New King James Version.
By Pastor Tim O’Connell