TEXT: Matthew 17:14-21
14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,
15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.
16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.
17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
20 And Jesus said unto them, 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.
21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 137 messages in this series.
This is message #138 titled, Fighting Satan’s Strongholds Through Prayer and Fasting (Part 3)
As we have progressed through this story of a father who comes to Jesus for the deliverance of his son from a Satanic stronghold in his life, we have learned four things we must do which lay the groundwork for such deliverance. Those things are: (1) We must have a desire to overcome our strongholds; (2) We must recognize that Jesus alone has power and authority over our strongholds; (3) We must admit to God that we are in trouble; and (4) We must admit to God that what we have tried to do is not working, and we must bring our strongholds to Him if we want to see them removed.
On last week, we saw that Jesus rebuked His disciples and the people for their lack of faith and their wrong mindset about deliverance from strongholds. Of course, Jesus easily healed the epileptic boy and cast the evil spirit out of him. The thing He did not like about the situation was that evidently the people doubted that it could be done. He said that they were faithless and perverse.
Now, when the healed boy had been given to his father, the disciples came to Jesus alone and asked Him, “Why could not we cast him out?” Obviously, this was very troubling to them. Jesus answers them by saying, “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.” Learning the value of having faith in God was crucially important for the disciples and it is crucially important for us today. Often, we will face seemingly hopeless situations. We will face strongholds that appear too strong to be torn down. However, if we have faith in God, and if what we desire to accomplish is in God’s will, then even a small faith the size of a mustard seed can produce big results.
So, what happened to the disciples’ faith? Remember that at the beginning of this passage, Jesus had taken Peter, James, and John to the top of a mountain where they witnessed the Transfiguration of Christ and the appearance of Moses and Elijah. Warren Wiersbe writes that “the nine were perhaps jealous because they had not been called to go to the mountaintop with Jesus. During the Lord’s absence, they began to grow self-indulgent. They neglected prayer; their faith weakened. Then, when the crisis came, they were unprepared. Like Samson, they went out to battle without realizing that their power was gone. From their example, we see the importance of staying spiritually healthy… Had the nine disciples been praying, disciplining themselves, and meditating on the Word, they would have been able to cast out the demon and rescue the boy.”
Not only did the disciples neglect the cultivation of their faith, but they did not rely on the power of prayer in this situation. Jesus says, “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” Evidently, there are some demonic strongholds (and other difficult situations, for that matter) that require us to have faith in God along with prayer and fasting.
Obviously, this kind of prayer and fasting takes time, and that is something most of us do not want to invest. We want to be able to pray once or twice and expect God to answer immediately. But the longer God takes to answer our prayer, the more our faith is tested. Will we continue to believe? Will we continue to pray? Will we continue to fast?
One commentary states regarding this verse that “continued effectiveness demands ongoing dependence on God.” The disciples could not just depend on God as soon as the boy was brought to them. They had to be depending on God before then, and they had to keep depending on God.
By stating that some situations require prayer and fasting, Jesus lets us know that the answers to our prayer will not always come immediately. Some strongholds will take time to be torn down. Other strongholds will indeed be torn down all at once, but that will take place at a future date in God’s plan. Our task is to keep on praying and fasting as the Holy Spirit leads us. We can do that if we believe that God is in control and that He has complete power over the situation.
Dutch Sheets tells the story of a mother who travailed in prayer for some time about her drug-addicted daughter. One evening while lying on her face in prayer, she heard the Lord’s quiet voice promising that her daughter would soon be free. Wiping her tears, that mother got up and began praising God. She continued praising God even though there was no outward change in her daughter. Five long months passed. The daughter continued taking drugs until one day she overdosed. After that experience, she was ready for help. Following a period of Christian counseling, she was set free.
Did those five long months negate God’s promise to deliver the daughter from the stronghold of drug addiction? No, they did not. God was working in the daughter’s life to bring her to a point where she realized that she needed help. Not all cases are the same. As Jesus stated, some require prayer and fasting.
The question that remains is: Are you willing to spend more time than usual in prayer — are you willing to fast — to see the strongholds broken in your life or in the lives of others? Those times you spend in prayer and fasting are not wasted. They are recognized by God and they play a major factor in your deliverance. As Dr. Louis Barbieri wrote, in this passage “Jesus was instructing the disciples about their future ministries. Their problem often would be lack of faith and failure to seek their Lord’s direction. His Word would be sufficient to produce the desired healing, but their actions would necessitate great faith and constant contact with Him through prayer. When these elements are combined, there is no limit to the works the disciples could accomplish, following His will.”
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9, 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for over twenty-seven years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.