The disciples approached Jesus privately and asked, “Why couldn’t we cast out the demon?” Jesus replied, “It’s because of your lack of faith. Truly, I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind of demon can only be driven out through prayer and fasting.” – Matthew 17:19-21.
In Matthew 17:19-21, we find the disciples grappling with a failure that perplexed them deeply. They had been unable to cast out a demon, a feat they had previously accomplished. Jesus’ answer to their question, “Why couldn’t we cast out the demon?” was both simple and challenging: “It’s because of your lack of faith.” This interaction explains a truth about the nature of faith and its indispensable role in the life of a believer.
The disciples’ failure was not due to a lack of effort or sincerity. They had been granted authority, and they had used it before. Yet, in this instance, their efforts fell short. Jesus pinpoints the issue as unbelief—a lack of faith. This reveals a crucial spiritual principle: faith is not just belief in the existence of God or acknowledgment of His power. It is a deep, unwavering trust in God, a trust that transcends understanding and manifests in absolute reliance on Him.
Jesus emphasizes that faith, even as small as a mustard seed, is powerful. However, this faith is not innate or automatic; it requires cultivation through spiritual disciplines like prayer and fasting. Prayer connects us to God, aligns our will with His, and fosters a spirit of dependence and trust. Fasting, on the other hand, detaches us from the world and its distractions, allowing our spirit to focus wholly on God.
This incident with the disciples underscores that faith is not static; it is dynamic and grows through our spiritual practices. Our faith can falter if not nurtured, just as it did for the disciples. They had the authority and had experienced success before, yet in this critical moment, their faith wavered.
The lesson for us is clear: our spiritual authority and effectiveness hinge on the depth and quality of our faith. This faith is not a passive state but an active, living trust in God, nurtured through prayer and fasting. These practices are not mere rituals but are the means by which we draw closer to God, understand His will, and strengthen our trust in Him.
Word in Action
Today, examine the quality of your faith. Are you actively nurturing it through prayer and fasting? Set aside time for these spiritual disciplines, not as a formula, but as a means to deepen your relationship with God and strengthen your faith.
Wonder in the Word
Reflect on a recent challenge or failure in your life. Could it be a result of a faltering faith? How can you use prayer and fasting to cultivate a stronger, more resilient faith in God?