After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer. He said to them, "This kind [of unclean spirit] can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting." Mark 9:29
Afterward, the disciples approached Jesus privately and asked, “Why weren’t we able to get rid of it?” “Because you have so little faith,” replied Jesus. “I assure you that if you have as much faith as a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this hill, ‘Up you get and move over there!’ and it will move—you will find nothing is impossible.” “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” Matthew 17:19-21
Was Jesus giving the disciples a formula?
Was He correcting their form?
Was He adding fasting with praying for exponential power?
Did they need more faith?
Did the father of the son lack faith?
Remember, the father must've seen something in the disciples to cause him to bring his son for healing.
So many questions come from this one scripture. Including the one from the disciples, "Why couldn't we drive it out?" There had been several recorded instances they could heal and drive out demons before this incident.
This question does imply that they were surprised that they couldn't.
Oh, for us to live with that experience and faith now!
In the parallel scripture in Matthew, Jesus says their issue is little faith as a verb tense. All five times the Greek word for "little faith" is used, it is with Jesus rebuking the problem of failing to hear His voice. Then Jesus speaks of faith in the noun form when He talks about a mustard seed.
Little Faith = Failing to Hear Jesus’ Voice.
The issue wasn't that they didn't have enough faith; the issue was failing to hear His voice. Not acting on or living in what God had already given them.
The wonder about having an atom of noun faith is that the power is in the One whom we trust.
His announcement of prayer and fasting as a solution was relational, not formulaic.
Jesus encouraged them to live in a relationship with Abba Father as He did. Everything He did and showed them was from the Father. He was modeling the perfect father-to-child relationship. By the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, He completes the ability to have that perfect relationship through grace.
Prayer and fasting crowd out the other voices in my life, allowing me to hear His voice clearer. And His voice is always one of love. Love for me and others.
If you desire more intimacy with our Abba Father, seek Him through prayer and fasting.
How can you add this to your rhythms of discipline in your life?
Who can you think of willing to partner with you in discovering the joy of prayer and fasting?
May prayer and fasting open our hearts to hear Your voice and know Your love more intimately. May we not use them to our ends, but may they be Your means to love others more deeply through us. Amen