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Friday, April 12, 2013

A Greater Faith

20 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 4:32-34).

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 (Hebrews 11:1).

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?

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