Why is prayer and fasting sometimes required?


By BibleAsk Team

“And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting”.

Mark 9:29

The Deliverance of the Demon-Possessed Child

This is the story of the father who brought his demon possessed child to the nine disciples for deliverance, but they failed at casting out the foul spirit or unclean spirit (Mark 9; Matthew 17). This incident took place when Jesus took away Peter, James, and John up on a high mountain and was transfigured before them (Mark 9:2).

The father of the boy said to Jesus, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not” (Mark 9:16-18).

The Jews and the father had attributed the helplessness of the nine disciples to the presumed superior power of the demon. The real trouble, however, lay not in the power of the demon, but in the spiritual weakness of the disciples at that time.

So, Jesus said to the disciples, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me” (Mark 9:19). And Jesus said to the father, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes. Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23,24).

So Jesus said, “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). The part of the mustard seed is not mentioned by Mark who omits it and only mentions the part about faith (9:23).

Then, Jesus rebuked the demon saying, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him (Mark 9: 25-28). And when Jesus had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting” (Mark 9: 25-29).

Unfortunately, during the absence of Peter, James, and John with Christ, the nine disciples had been dwelling on their discouragements and personal grievances, in a spirit of jealousy because of the favor shown to their absent disciples. Their state of mind and heart made it impossible for God to work through them. They were guilty of dwelling on evil.

Prayer and Fasting

Prayers are effective only when coupled with humility and fasting. Mark 9:29 commentary shows that Christ is not concerned with momentary prayer, but with a life actuated by prayer, daily relationship with God, and humility.  It is through prayer that we connect to God every moment. Once we cut our connection with God, our spiritual life starts to wither and die. The apostle Paul teaches, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) to overcome the evil spirits.

Jesus Himself was often in prayer. Our Savior identified Himself with our needs and weakness. He became a petitioner, seeking from His Father fresh supplies of strength, that He might be equipped for trial. He is our example in all things. He is a brother in our infirmities, “in all points tempted like as we are” but without sin. His humanity made prayer a necessity and a privilege. And if the Savior felt the need of prayer, how much more should sinful men feel the necessity of constant prayer.

As for fasting, although we are never commanded to fast, it should be an important part of the Christian’s life. Fasting and prayer should be linked together (Luke 2:37; 5:33). In fasting, too often, the focus is on the lack of food. Instead, the purpose should be to take our eyes off the things of this world and focus completely on God.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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