“When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out? And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:28-29).
The back story of this Scripture passage describes Jesus healing a boy who his disciples had been unable to restore. After miraculously healing the lad, his disciples were dumbfounded because they thought they had what it took to pass on the healing touch of Jesus to those suffering in the world, like this boy. Jesus responds by mentoring the disciples in the power that lies in prayer and fasting.
We all battle with sin, but some things in particular plague us and its’ grip seemingly never loosens. What is that thing that enslaves you? The thing that overwhelms you…that thing that you struggle with over the past year or two or ten? The message that Jesus teaches his disciples here is precisely for that thing in your life.
His message for these situations is that it doesn’t matter what kind of will power you have, will power isn’t going to get it done. This “thing” can’t be overcome by ourselves…it’s bigger than us and we need Him to help us stamp it out. We’ve tried on our own, haven’t we? Jesus wants to pass on the answer which is prayer and fasting.
Are we spending time with him in prayer and finally surrendering these hidden parts of our character that we don’t want him to see, or are actually afraid of losing? We’ve got to admit, on our knees, that we can’t get it done on our own. We have nothing left, we’ve tried everything and this “thing”, this habit of sin, keeps pestering us and won’t leave us alone.
Secondly…are we fasting? Are we denying ourselves? A pleasure, our cravings, self-interests. If we experience the tried and true practice of Christian fasting we will encounter the great power that can be derived from denying ourselves and picking up our cross. When we make this leap, it is palpable that Christ is with us and we are uniting ourselves with his redemptive love which changes our lives and the lives of those around us.
During this Lenten season, I think Jesus wants to put the powerful weapons of prayer and fasting back in our lives, or maybe introduce them for the first time. They are weapons which are belt fed by His grace and can destroy the sin that has been enslaving us for far too long. The point of Lent is not to show how strong our will is, but to experience a transformation. This holy time is meant to be an opportunity to encounter freedom and conversion. I challenge you to find your one “thing” and allow Christ to slay it through prayer and fasting.
”Put on the Armor of God” (Eph 6:11)