After Christ’s Transfiguration before His disciples, He descended the mount and found a multitude waiting for him. A man in the multitude begged for the Lord to heal his son, who was afflicted with a “foul spirit,” or a “devil” (Mark 9:25). The man pleaded, saying, “Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not” (Mark 9:17-18). The evil spirit had astonishing power over him, a power that was doubtless terrifying to his father and to those around him.
Despite the power Christ had given the apostles over devils (Luke 9:1), the apostles were unable to cure the young man. The spirit had such great power over the boy that “when he saw [Christ], straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming” (Mark 9:20). Imploring the Lord, the man cried, “if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us” (Mark 9:22).
“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:23-24).
The Lord then healed the young man, and the foul spirit left him, and he was made whole. When the disciples asked Jesus why they could not heal the boy, Christ responded simply, “Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:20-21).
I have had some encounters with evil spirits of this type, and their power is indeed astonishing and terrifying. I can relate to the father’s agonized pleading for freedom for his son. The Lord’s answer was so simple—healing is possible, if only you believe. I never cease to be moved by his response—“Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” I have pleaded for that help to give me the faith I need, to cure my unbelief so that those I love can be made free. And I have witnessed the truthfulness of the Lord’s gentle chiding, “this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”
I stand as a witness to the power of prayer and fasting. Especially when the world seems the darkest, when it is the hardest to believe, when the powers of the adversary seem to be arrayed in their might against me and I doubt that light can ever penetrate through my fear and pain, prayer is a healing balm. It gives focus and direction to my life. It ushers in peace and strength and dispels doubt and fear. It gives me comfort and calms my troubled heart. I know that some afflictions cannot be healed except by prayer and fasting. Some demons are so great that only great effort—mighty prayer and sincere fasting—can expel them.
When I pray, the Lord helps my unbelief. He gives me a portion of His power so that I can have peace as I step to the edge of the light, and take a few steps into the darkness, trusting that the light will follow me. He gives me the faith I need to face doubt and uncertainty, to overcome fear and sorrow. And, armed with that faith, I become a recipient of that great promise, “all things are possible to him that believeth.”
Picture from http://www.newlightmethodist.org/