After some exchanges between the man and Christ, the boy is delivered from demon possession. The disciples ask Christ after the matter, “Why could we not cast him out” (Mark 9:28; cp. Matthew 17:19)? Matthew attaches records Christ’s words, “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).
Scripture tells us, “Without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6), so understanding faith is imperative! Some say faith is believing. This is only part of it. It is a dangerous oversimplification. In a culture of self-determination and fairytale imagination, you may “believe you can fly” or “if you can dream it, you can do it.” Is this faith?
Faith begins with an awareness of your circumstances. In salvation, I am aware of my sin and the prohibition in heaven against it. To enter God’s presence is an impossibility because of my sinful condition. The disciples in this story needed to be aware of their circumstance and realize their insufficiency in themselves. “Belief in yourself” is the devil’s lie leading you to a substandard, less than stellar life. If the future challenges you, if you feel inadequate for the task at hand, if you are questioning why God has brought you to this moment, believing in yourself is delusional! You must lock onto something or Someone greater than your circumstance. A Christian’s failure in faith is either because they refuse to encounter circumstances which challenge their own ability or they look at the Grand Canyon of an impossible situation and revel in their capacity to do great things. Both are failures in faith.
Being aware of your circumstance drives you to adjust your confidence. The adjustment in faith is done only through prayer and fasting. Prayer is not a discipline, but a dependence. Prayer actuates the power of God through you. Fasting eliminates the friction to His power working through you. You must strip away everything which could distract or dilute your access to the only Source of strength. Moses had to remove his shoes because even the tiniest sliver of sandal leather would have been a chasm between himself and God’s solution. Jesus told his disciples to fast. Once you eliminate every impediment, you are now a vessel prepared to receive the work of God.
“Without faith it is impossible to please Him” for it is by faith you come to God and the end of yourself.