“And when He had entered the house, His disciples asked Him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ And He said to them, ‘This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.'” – Mark 9:28,29
In our lives we will encounter many suffering people. We will be compelled to help all of them in the love of the Father through Jesus. This means that we could find ourselves in the same predicament as the disciples in this story…ineffective and frustrated. “Why didn’t it work?” Are there times when it takes more than the “regular” amount of prayer and attention that we normally give? Is Jesus saying to His disciples that some ministry…some problems or challenges require more? Is He assigning a “level of difficulty” to this task? Are there some things that require God to work harder? Of course not! But, maybe some things require a little more from us.
Jesus tells the disciples that this situation was one that required “prayer and fasting”. Prayer and fasting is a time of intense focus and sacrifice. Jesus is referring to the discipline of humility and brokenness while seeking a Word from the Lord. So, in this situation, who is doing or has done the praying and fasting in this situation? We are given no indication that Jesus prayed or fasted and the disciples obviously had not. Or are we to assume that Jesus was saying that this is what it would take for the disciples to do it, but not Him, since He is Jesus, of course? Or, could it be that there had been some praying and fasting going on that the disciples did not see or acknowledge? There may be some insight by looking at the way Jesus healed the boy.
Jesus called them over and questioned the father…oh wait…the father…we forgot about the father. The weary desperate man reaching out for a miracle. A man who, most likely had been seeking, begging, even…maybe…”praying and fasting” for his tormented son. He was a man who believed in God but was struggling with doubt and despair. Could it be that Jesus was acknowledging and honoring the prayer and fasting of this father? The Scripture does not tell us specifically, but that makes sense to me. One thing is for sure, Jesus does let us know that someone has been fasting and praying.
When was the last time that you desperately prayed and fasted for God’s intervention? I’m taking about a prayer that came out of brokenness and humility…a prayer that didn’t fit a orderly outline or use pretty words. This was a cry to God from deep within. This was an SOS call to God from a soul at the end of the rope. We have referred to David’s prayer in Psalm 51 before;
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” – Psalm 51:17
The Scriptures tell us that we are more clearly heard and answers more clearly given when we humble ourselves before God and acknowledge that He is our only hope. Jesus had heard this desperate father’s prayers before this moment that they met at the bottom of the mountain. He knew his heart. He knew he was broken. This miracle was an affirmation to the father’s faith as well as the healing of the boy.
Jesus hears our prayers. He knows our hearts. He is there in our darkest hour and, especially, when we come to Him wounded and broken. Jesus said,
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or, if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him.” – Matthew 7:7-11
A lesson from our Good Father.