Why Add Fasting to Prayer
Tuesday, August 02, 2022
Many Christians are aware of the discipline of prayer and that it was an important part of Jesus’ life and ministry. Jesus famously declared “My house shall be called a house of prayer.”
The work of prayer most foundationally is how we communicate and engage in fellowship with our heavenly Father, the Almighty God. It is also how we press in to hear the Father’s heart on what His will is on any matter. In the model prayer, that Jesus taught the disciples in Luke 11, He opens with the words “our Father Who is in Heaven…” It is important to understand and always remember that all prayer is to be directed towards God the Father. Secondly, the Lord teaches that we should pray in His name as we request things of the Father. (See John 16:24) Third, and most often missing from many denominational teachings is the spiritual work of fasting. In our “learning journey” for today, we will see that He taught the disciples to add fasting to prayer. In Matthew 17:14-21, the disciples had already attempted to cast out an evil spirit out of a child. Let us read the verses below from the New King James Version:
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.”Matthew 17:14-21
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.”
Obviously, the disciples as curious apprentices had seen the Master cast out evil spirits severally and assumed they could also just do the same. Their assumption must have been encouraged by this father who also assumed the same as well as the desperate nature of the situation at hand. However, this was not the case, as we read from the distressed father’s testimony in Vs.16. Thankfully, the Lord Jesus took command of the situation and cast out the evil spirit, curing the child. Much later while debriefing, the disciples asked Jesus why they could not cast the demon out and Jesus said two things. First, because of unbelief, and second, they needed to add habitual fasting to their prayer because this kind of demon “does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Apparently, the disciples had learned to pray from observing the Lord and from the direct tutoring and coaching they had received from Him. But now they needed to learn the art and practice of fasting.
What Do We Learn?
We can reasonably conclude from Jesus’ words in Vs. 21, that adding fasting to prayer will grant us power in prayer to overcome satan’s arsenal in spiritual warfare. Also looking closer and meditatively at the verse Jesus said “…this kind…” I like to think that this statement provides us with the principle for practice. The principle here is that adding fasting to prayer is applicable not only to a child possessed and troubled by a demon as we see in the account but also to any intractable problem for which we are seeking solutions.
More power to you now and always from our team to you in Jesus’ name.