He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to
you, if you have faith like a grain of 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 But this kind never comes out except by
prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:20-21 ESV).
I find it
interesting that several versions of the Bible do not include verse 21
in Matthew 17, because it is a verse that jumps of the page to me, and
explains how I can discover abundant faith. In this chapter Jesus has
just come down off the mountain where he has been with Peter, James, and
John. These three disciples have witnessed the incredible sight of
Jesus speaking with Elijah and Moses. Now Jesus is suddenly approached
by a man whose son has been tormented by a demon since he was a child.
The other disciples have been unable to help this man’s son, and have
they just asked Jesus why they were unable to rid the son of his demon.
Jesus answers that it is because of their little faith. In that illusive
verse 21, Jesus explains that faith—strong enough to cast out the son’s
demon—is discovered through prayer and fasting. This is clear
instruction how we can find a strong enough faith to rid ourselves of
the “personal demons” of fear, lack of confidence, lack of trust,
animosity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, and anything that holds us
from growing in faith. Prayer and fasting are the two disciplines which
will make a difference.
Prayer isn’t just telling God
what you desire, but is about listening and understanding what He
desires. Prayer doesn’t change God, but you. When you enter into holy
communication with God, the Spirit of the Lord within you prays to the
Holy Spirit. You have surrendered control (Romans 8:26). The heart prays
and receives faith without the analytical perspective the mind attempts
to interject. Satan’s lies can’t penetrate the shield of faith.
Fasting focuses the mind on God instead of circumstance. “You will
keep in perfect peace him, whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in
you” (Isaiah 26:3). You know supernatural peace at the moment the mind
surrenders its struggle for control. When the human mind is bypassed,
the need for assurance is exchanged for His grace (Philippians 4:6-8).
Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread, but Jesus said, "Man
doesn’t live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth
of God" (Matthew 4:4). In another instance, the disciples insisted
that Jesus eat, and he said, “I have food to eat that you know nothing
about”. The disciples didn’t see any food. “My food,” Jesus explained,
“is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish His purpose" (John
When we surrender control to God—whether in
prayer or food—we receive more of the Lord’s strength to handle life’s
uncertainty, and to complete the work He has assigned us. As we grow in
these disciplines, sensitivity to the Holy Spirit increases, revealing
our own inadequacy, and teaching us how to walk by faith and not by
sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
On the mountain, Peter,
James, and John experienced incredible faith at the sight before them.
It created emotional fervor in these three disciples, and then later,
when they came down off the mountain, the other disciples were unable to
cast out a demon. Jesus called them an unbelieving generation. Jesus
Christ answers clearly by word and deed that He is all that is necessary
to have great faith. Sensory perception doesn’t inspire greater faith
Whatever your “personal demon”, faith
is the only way to end its ability to control your life. It is the only
way to move it out of your life, or put in under your feet. Prayer and
fasting are two disciplines which inspire greater faith. I want the
things that I have allowed to define who I am to no longer have the
ability to define me. I want a strong enough faith to stand against the
lies of my past. I am a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:7). And I
want to be new in every way. Don't you?