I read this section of the Bible today and was left puzzled. So I dug deeper with the blue letter bible app.
Passage in short: The disciples couldn’t cast out a demon from a little boy. Jesus rebukes them for their little faith. Jesus casts out the demon. They go into a house and have a private discussion. The disciples ask Jesus why they couldn’t cast out this demon as they’ve cast out demons before, in fact Jesus gave them the authority to do so in Mark 3:14-15. Jesus replies, “this kind can come out by nothing but prayer.” And in some translations they add fasting.
Jesus’s response in verse 29 is what puzzled me. Only by prayer and fasting. One, we don’t read that he prayed on the spot. He just commanded. Two, why prayer and fasting?
This is what I read when digging further,
It isn’t that prayer and fasting make us more worthy to cast out demons. It is that prayer and fasting draws closer to the heart of God, and they put us more in line with his power. They are an expression of our total dependence on him.
They (the commentators) made another point,
That authority (to cast our demons in Mark 3:14) that Jesus had given them was effective only if exercise by faith but faith must be cultivated through spiritual discipline and devotion.
Reading, praying, fasting, serving, devotion... doesn’t make us a good Christian. Doesn’t make us right with God. But it does cultivate a heart for God. You can do those things and just go through the motions, checking it off the list. Or you can go into them eagerly ready to learn more about our Savior, ready to fall in love with Him day after day.
Yes some days it will be less fruitful, but we come back the next ready to experience him all over again. Not to see how he can change us but to experience His story and what he has already done for us.