Sunday, March 11
Week Four - Mark 9:17-29
Read Mark 9:17-29.
In this story, a man brought his suffering son to Jesus’ disciples, presuming they, like their Master, could cure him. But they were unable to help the boy. Privately, when the disciples asked Jesus why they were unable to cast the demon out of the boy, Jesus explained, “This kind (of disordered spirit) comes out only by prayer and fasting.” (If you are using a New International Version translation you will notice the footnote in verse 29 indicates that many of the manuscripts we have of this passage add the words, “and fasting.”)
Throughout the Bible and continuing on through the history of the churches, followers of Jesus have used the devotions of prayer and fasting to cleanse, purity and strengthen themselves, and their faith. It’s not that prayer and fasting are magic charms that automatically produce powerful results. In fact, there are instances in the Bible where insincere people try to use legitimate means to work miracles ⎯ with disastrous results! Instead, prayer and fasting are activities which make space for God and help us to re-order our interior lives, making us keener and leaner. As a result, we are better able to manage ourselves and be truly helpful to others.
This week consider in some way combining the devotions of fasting and prayer. Depending on your health and circumstances you might alter your diet for a meal, or skip a meal. Some might want to set aside a day. At some point take time for prayer. It doesn’t even have to be a long time. As fasting is often considered by itself a special form of prayer, you might even let your prayer be silent, a prayer beyond words. Take a walk. Sit or kneel. Make space for God and the purifying, strengthening focus that can result from these devotions.