“Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 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. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:19-21, NKJV).
Fasting is a spiritual investment that yields great supernatural dividends. Part of the supernatural dividends accruable from fasting is access to spiritual authority to curtail demonic operations on earth. God had most evidently granted the new creation full authority over Satan and all his agents operating on earth. When Jesus commissioned the seventy disciples to go and preach the gospel, He told them, “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19). By this statement and similar others like this, our Lord subjected all the powers of the devil under the authority of the believer. However, in practice, the believer sometimes experiences situations where his authority seems to falter. Such was the experience of the apostles when they failed to cure a boy that was afflicted with epilepsy by a demon. The boy’s father, presenting his son’s case to Jesus said, “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. So, I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him” (Matthew 17:15-16). On hearing the pathetic story of the boy’s suffering, our Lord, moved with compassion, cast out the demon with relative ease to the astonishment of the apostles, who had earlier failed to help the boy. Later during their debriefing session, the apostles inquired to know from the Lord the likely reason for their failure in securing the boy’s deliverance. Jesus explained that the primary cause of their failure was unbelief. He then added, “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21). There is a level of supernatural power you cannot access unless through the channels of prayer and fasting. Fasting and prayer give faith the necessary cutting-edge it needs to excel in spiritual warfare.
Faith is created in the heart of the believer by the word of God, but it is galvanized for effective action by fasting and prayer. Fasting empowers faith because it denies the flesh and spurs greater relish for the Word of God in the heart of the believer. Jesus had declared that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Fasting enhances our appetite for the word of God and by so doing serves as a powerful faith builder. Recall the truth that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). I prefer the New Living Translation rendering of this verse: “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” What really builds our faith is the good news about what Christ accomplished for us by His redemptive sacrifice and resurrection. Some people describe these redemptive benefits as new creation realities – the innumerable blessings that Christ had eternally secured for the new creation. Every truly born-again person is a new creation in Christ. The Bible affirms that he has been “created to be like God—truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4:24), NLT). The new creation cannot be corrupted by any of the schemes of Satan. He is totally unlimited in his reach in God’s grace. Every limitation that the new creation experiences is as a result of self-incurred ignorance. He has been recreated to be like God! The more these truths are ingrained in the heart of the believer, the firmer his faith and greater the blessings he enjoys. I need to make the point though that fasting and prayer do not grow faith; it is the word of God that does. Fasting and prayer only activates the faith that has been birthed and nurtured by the word of God to produce result. Fasting and praying that are out of sync with the word of God are spiritually barren exercises.
Fasting is a bold statement of one’s dependence on God rather than on the power of the flesh. According to Dr. Elmer Towns, “Fasting is one of the great privileges of the Christian life. It is an act of self-denial that enhances our prayer life.” We deny ourselves to make more room for God in our lives. We say “no” to the desires of the flesh because we are saying “yes” to the spiritual delicacies of grace. Fasting affords us a unique opportunity to respond to the invitation of the Psalmist, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalms 34:8). True fasting is the believers craving to taste God in His untainted pureness and enlivening freshness. The Psalmist beckons on us believers to draw near and have a first-hand experience with God. There are things in life which can only be appreciated by personal experience. For example, no description of the sweetness of honey can beat an experiential taste of it. Job had been there; he had thought he knew God until he had an encounter with Him. He confessed, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6). Such beatific encounter as Job experienced is very possible for believers in times of fasting and self-abnegation. However, one needs to evince focus and definiteness of desire to gain God’s attention during prayer and fasting. Fasting is not an end in itself. It is rather a signal to God that we are hungry for more of Him. May all of us who are so hungry, experience God on more personal and intimate levels, as we seek His face with fasting and prayer this season in Jesus name.