Prayer and fasting
“However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:21
Prayer and fasting. You don’t hear much about it today. We have a National Day of Prayer each year and occasionally there may be a national “call” to prayer. However, the last president to call for a national fast was Abraham Lincoln. Think about that.
In Jesus’ day, it was a common practice, so common that religious leaders were fasting so whoever saw them would think they were “super spiritual.” Jesus said, “When you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” (Matthew 6:16) Notice Jesus said, “When you fast”, not if you fast. He was teaching them the right way because it was the right thing to do.
So, what is fasting all about? Fasting is a time of separating from the things of the world to “tune in” to the things of God. It doesn’t have to be food, though it certainly can be. It could be things such as social media, tv/movies, news, or gaming, anything that takes time that you can turn your attention to God instead. The things you fast usually aren’t bad things, it’s just a time you purpose in your heart to spend with God in the place you usually spend with those other things. Fasting can also be a time when you decide to reach out to others more or in a different way than you usually do, a time of giving of yourself.
When fasting foods, it can be for a time of cleansing in your body for more healthy living. The timing is also flexible. It can be one day as the Israelites did weekly on the sabbath or three days as Esther did to seek God’s wisdom. Daniel fasted twenty-one days, he still ate food, he just fasted “pleasant foods” and Jesus and Moses fasted forty days. Fasting is not a ritual practice; it is a spiritual discipline. In fasting, your physical body is forced to submit to your spirit/will because it must obey what you tell it to do instead of you obeying what your flesh demands to be comfortable. It is not something you do to try to get God to move closer to you or in your behalf. Fasting is for you to move closer to God and to get in line with the good plans He has for your life.
In today’s scripture, Jesus told His disciples that faith goes out by prayer and fasting and with it there is much power. The disciples wondered why they couldn’t get the demon out of the boy when they had done it many times before. Jesus told them this kind (of power) goes out only by prayer and fasting. In conclusion, prayer and fasting produces more of God’s power in your life.
I know this is not so interesting to some, but it is truly a powerful habit to take on. By putting your flesh in subjection to your spirit, your spirit becomes dominate and more discerning of the things God is speaking to your heart. Today I would ask that you consider and pray about prayer and fasting. Read about it in the Word and listen to what God has to say about it. It is not a bad thing, for sure, and it is not obsolete. The same results can be had today that were given all through Bible times. If nothing else, in fasting you show yourself just how serious you are about the things of God.
Today’s scripture: Matthew 17:14-21
14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying,
15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.
16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”
18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.
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.”