There is a story in the Bible (Mark 9:17-29) that has always puzzled me.
Jesus came down from praying with Peter, James, and John to find a scene of pandemonium. When He asks the reason, a man steps forward to say that he had asked the disciples to cast a demon from his son and that they had not been able to do it. He then asks Jesus to do it if He can. Jesus replied, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” To which the dad cried, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!”
Later the disciples, who Jesus had given authority over sickness and demons and who had been going all over the countryside exercising that power, asked why they hadn’t been able to cast out this foul and violent demon. Jesus’ response: “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
I have decided that this story is case of faith versus belief.
What? Aren’t they the same? No. It’s that age old battle of the flesh against the Spirit.
In this case, we can sympathize with both the father and the disciples, the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. It must have been a scary sight! Not only that, but the dad told Jesus that the boy had been dealing with this spirit for a while. Sometimes, when things have gone on a long time, it’s hard to believe that they will ever change.
The book of James describes their dilemma when it says “let him ask in faith, with no doubting for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:6-8). When you are rocked by the waves and the wind, it’s hard to believe in anything but disaster, and what you see is what you get.
Romans 10:10 states that “with your heart you believe.” The heart is often equated to the mind. My born-again spirit has been given faith as a gift by God (Romans 12:3), but I must renew my mind (Romans 12:2) to truly believe. To face down the really BIG storms, Jesus says prayer and fasting is the only way to prepare. Fasting tames the flesh and prayer connects us with the Spirit of God.
Jesus was well aware of the value of this because He had done the work. As soon as He was baptized, He went into the desert, subjecting himself to hunger and the elements to pray and seek God’s will. The final exam showed that He had learned to weld the Sword of the Spirit—the Word of God—to defeat “the lust and sensual cravings of the flesh, the lust and longing of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the ability of earthly things]” (1 John 2:16 AMP).
If even Jesus had to set Himself apart for this, don’t we need to make time to fast and pray? If we do not, as the world writhes and convulses under the influence of the enemy, we will be like the disciples who were unable to use the power and authority Jesus had imparted to them because fear clouded their faith.
Hard days are coming and are here. Isaiah 7:9 (GNT) tells us, “If your faith is not enduring, you will not endure.” The world is trying to silence the Church. We cannot afford to let our own bodies and our own minds join the rebellion. Double-mindedness must go if we are to be the spotless bride, ready to receive our Husband at His return. We must stand strong.
Because of this, I have decided that for the next 40 day, January 19 – February 28, 2023 I will fast from those things that take my eyes and confidence off God and His Word and replace them with prayer and study to renew my mind and surrender this body and soul to the Spirit.
What stands between you and complete faith? Would you give it up for 40 days to make room to seek the Lord? Let’s encourage one another as we take on a big commitment!