Summary: Godly prayer with fasting releases breakthrough spiritual power.
READ: Mark 2:18-20 (text: v20)
Note Jesus’ words - “Then they will fast”.
Jesus knew there would come a time when He would not be physically present any longer with His disciples / with the church. Perilous times would come when supernatural strength would be needed. “Then they will fast IN THOSE DAYS.” Church, we are living in such days today - the Bridegroom is absent and our needs for spiritual power are SO very great. Jesus intends for us to seek after God with great prayer and fasting.
This morning I want to talk to you about the subject of fasting. I believe that there is great power in the principles of prayer with fasting. But so many people either 1.) ignore fasting (“it’s not for me”), or 2.) misunderstand what fasting is all about, and what is required for true Christian fasting.
In order to see something of the power of prayer and fasting, we need to turn to another passage of Scripture: MATTHEW 17:1-21. [READ.]
Jesus returns from His transfiguration, having been aside in the mountains with Peter, James and John. Upon His return down, they are met by the other disciples and the crowd of people who were following Jesus to see the miracles He might perform. And the first thing that we see is waiting for Jesus is:
1. AN UNMET NEED.
There was a need that Jesus’ disciples could not meet - it was beyond their resources (human or spiritual). Previous to this, Jesus had already given His disciples the authority to heal the sick and cast out demons in His Name. And they went about preaching Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God, and they healed and delivered just as Jesus said that they would.
BUT NOW they have struck a need that is obviously too great for them. This young man, so violently afflicted with a devil that tormented him - and the disciples, no matter what they attempted, had been unable to deal with it. There was an UNMET NEED.
Let’s not be too quick to criticize the disciples for their inability here. Haven’t we all been in those places where we have tried with all that we have to find an answer in our lives, or in the life of some other poor friend needing help? We’ve tried everything; we’ve exhausted all our spiritual resources, and still the need is left seemingly unmet. The sickness remains; the situation is unchanged; the person is unaffected/unsaved/unchallenged. The need is unmet! What are we to do?
Jesus came down from the mountain, where He and His closest associates had been in the presence of God, to be faced with this unmet need. They come down from the presence of God where anything and everything is perfect and the possibilities are unlimited - back to the grim realities of life. (Ever been in a powerful church meeting where you experienced such a touch of God that you felt you could turn the world upside-down, only to go out and bump into someone down the street that you’ve been praying for and there’s no discernible change in them - in fact they seem worse than ever?! You feel the wind leave your sails very quickly. You are confronted by the dilemma - the failure - the tragedy.)
Jesus and His associates came down the mountain to face AN UNMET NEED.
BUT I praise God that Jesus is the MASTER OF THE UNMET NEED. If you have some situation in your life today that you have no answer for - my friend, your hope is JESUS. He is the Master of the unmet need! Nothing is too hard for Him. Hallelujah!
In a moment of time, Jesus turns the situation around. What seemed impossible has been accomplished! When all resources were expended - Jesus reaches out His miracle hand and supernatural power flows. (Don’t you love it.)
It’s all very wonderful, but it starts the disciples minds racing. There’s no longer an unmet need, but now they have been left with:
2. AN UNANSWERED QUESTION.
They’d had answers to prayer before, you see. They’d ministered effectively at times - they’d had SOME successes. So what was different this time? “Why could WE not cast out this demon?” “Oh, Lord, we tried everything we knew how. We prayed just as we’ve heard You pray for people. We got louder and louder, and sweatier and sweatier. What went wrong? We were so frustrated! Where did we go wrong?”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been right where those disciples were so many times. “Why Lord?” UNANSWERED QUESTIONS.
The disciples had an unanswered question: “Why could WE not cast him out?”
But to their question, Jesus gives:
3. AN UNEXPECTED REPLY.