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Fasting Day 2: Except…

Fasting Day 2: Except

In Matthew 17, a loving dad approaches Jesus bringing his son who suffered from seizures. The seizures would frequently cause him to fall into the fire or water. This father had brought his son to the disciples, but they could not heal him (even though Jesus had previously given them the power to cast out demons.) Jesus rebuked the demon; it came out of the boy and he was healed from that moment. The disciples later came to Jesus privately, inquiring as to why they couldn’t drive out the demon. Jesus answered:

“Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17: 20).

This is where we often stop — “Nothing will be impossible for you.” Countless sermons have been preached on this passage, ranging from topics of faith to confession, but few have continued on to the next statement Jesus made. He continued:

“But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (v. 21).

All of what Jesus said prior to this statement was true. Yet He continued. “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (v 21, emphasis added).

Moving Obstacles

Fasting enables us to move obstacles that prayer alone cannot move.

It has been amazing to watch the progression of topics the Holy Spirit has given our monthly women’s event called Passionate Pursuit. The first semester was about the Pursuit of God. During the second semester, the theme was Faith for the Supernaturalregarding getting a word from God about a situation and believing Him to fulfill it. The Holy Spirit then led us into an emphasis on prayer, with the launching of the Concert of Prayer event and movement.

Each semester my jaw falls open a little further open at the leadership of the Holy Spirit. For you see, one cannot have faith for the supernatural, without first having a diligent pursuit of God. But merely having a word from God and faith to accompany it does not preclude prayer, as Daniel and Elijah both clearly demonstrate (see Daniel 9:1-3; I Kings 18). In fact, prayer must follow. And yet, our pursuit, faith and prayer are incomplete without fasting.

I knew over a year in advance where God was going for January’s Passionate Pursuit—that I would  invite the ladies to join me in giving God the first with a fast. However, I had no idea all the turns God would take in the meantime. I didn’t realize how skillfully He was laying out the sequence of truth.

There are some obstacles that cannot be moved apart from prayer and fasting.

“But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17: 21). Fasting enables us to move obstacles that prayer alone cannot move.

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Except

The word “except” means to make an exception. In other words, normally this kind could not be cast out, but there is one exception.

Imagine that you went to Jesus with a problem that you were unable to solve, even with all the spiritual tools at your disposal. What if He replied, “This problem cannot be solved. However… there is one exception.” Would you not hang on that last word, longing for Him to continue? I would be waiting with bated breath, anxious to know this life-changing exception!

An exception opens something up that is otherwise closed. It makes the otherwise unattainable attainable. Something that is final—an ending—becomes a beginning. This one little word “except” changes everything. I found two laughable illustrations of this fact online the other day:

No parking. Absolutely no way—no parking!  Except… if you are a horse or wagon. Well now, if you’re a horse or wagon, that changes everything! What was closed to you has just been opened. No honking your horn! Absolutely no honking!! Well… not except for fits of anger. Or rather, situations of danger. If I see a car careening toward me, that changes everything! It might even save my life!

What was off limits becomes open to you with that one little word “except.” Therefore, we should pay close attention to what Jesus says after the word “except.”

“But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Jesus had long before spent forty days and nights fasting in the wilderness. For Him, casting out the demon was possible because a fast accompanied His faith. After Jesus was baptized in the Jordan He was led into the wilderness where He fasted. Jesus fasted before He did anything of service. He fasted before He made decisions. He fasted before preaching, before calling the disciples, before “working” spiritual works or miracles.

How Fasting Brings About Exceptions

If Jesus could have accomplished all He came to do without fasting, why would He fast? He knew that renouncing the natural invokes the supernatural. There were some supernatural things that would not be released until He fasted — even though He was the Son of God.

“A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).

Beloved, as you fast, you are becoming fully trained, living like your teacher and Master—and God will reward your sacrifice. Scripture says that Jesus returned from the Jordan “full of the Holy Spirit,” but He returned to Galilee, after fasting, “in the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:1, 14). You may have entered your fast full of the Holy Spirit, but you will return in the power of the Spirit. This kind does not go out except…

Question: What obstacle in your life hasn’t budged through prayer alone? Would you be willing to combine prayer with fasting in order to see it move?

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