Leviticus 20:22-21:24; Mark 9:14-29; Psalms 43:5; Proverbs 14:5-6
NT: “When they came to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and scribes disputing with them. When the whole crowd saw him, they were amazed and ran to greet him. He asked them, “What are you arguing with them about?” Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you. He has a spirit that makes him unable to speak. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn’t.” “…How long has this been happening to him?” Jesus asked his father. “From childhood,” he said. “And many times it has thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’? Everything is possible for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd was quickly gathering, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you: Come out of him and never enter him again.” Then it came out, shrieking and throwing him into terrible convulsions. The boy became like a corpse, so that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus, taking him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up. After he had gone into the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” And he told them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer.”” (Mark 9:14-18, 21-29 CSB)
When Peter, James, John, and Jesus descended from the Mount of Transfiguration, there in “the valley,” they found the rest of the disciples in distress. A crowd was gathered around them and the scribes were disputing with them. While Jesus and the 3 disciples were on the mountaintop, a father had brought his demon-possessed son to the remaining 9. The disciples were unable to deliver the boy and the scribes were belittling them for their inability. By the time Jesus arrived on the scene, the father of the boy wasn’t even sure if Jesus could deliver him. Jesus encouraged the father’s belief and delivered the boy. What had happened? Why did that encounter with Jesus’ disciples go wrong and descend into chaos? Jesus had delegated His power and authority to all of His disciples, not just Peter, James, and John. They were fully capable of delivering the boy, but had failed. Apparently, they had lost faith in what Jesus had delegated to them. They had been given power and authority, but because of their lack of discipline, had lost their faith when Jesus and the stronger disciples were out of the picture. The disciplines of prayer and fasting help to cultivate, strengthen, and harden our faith so that it can endure even when things come to challenge our faith. Through prayer and fasting, we grow to know our Lord more and more intimately and come to depend on Him deeper and more fully. The disciplines of prayer and fasting grow our hope in God and lessen our reliance on ourselves. It’s not the prayer and fasting that demons respond to – it is our rock solid faith in the power and authority of God born out of prayer and fasting that they respond to.
Psalms: “Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalms 43:5 CSB)
The Hebrew word translated as ‘dejected’ here is very similar to the Hebrew word for worship. Both words have to do with being bowed down. The word for worship has to do with voluntarily bringing yourself low and humbling yourself. This word has to do with being humiliated and cast down. The psalmist asks, why are you allowing yourself to be humiliated with your thoughts in chaos (much like the 9 disciples were in the story above). Instead of being humiliated, humble yourself and place your hope completely in God. He is our Savior and our God. He is well able to deliver and He is willing to deliver. Hope in Him.