“When Jesus had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast the evil spirit out?’ He said to them, ‘This kind can come out only through prayer and fasting’.” ~Mark 9:28-29 (NRSV modified).
Jesus shows in the above concluding few sentences of the healing of the deaf, demon-possessed boy with severe grand mal epilepsy, that some healings are beyond simple faith and require the power of concerted prayer, including fasting. Even then, for healing to occur it will be according only to God’s will.
Does ‘Little Prayer’ Mean ‘Little Faith’?
It is possibly the disciples’ lack of commitment to prayer that they find themselves in a position where they could not heal the boy in their Master’s name. It may also be that Jesus has said literally what the issue was—just a lack of considered prayer. Either way it took more than the rebuking of the spirit in Jesus’ name to release the boy.
It bears consideration, also, that certain evil spirits require a more staunch approach regarding the healing of subjects in question. Satan-possession, itself, would certainly be at the head of evil powers. Then, the Apostle Paul talks about “thrones or powers or rulers or authorities,” (including principalities), in Colossians 1:16. It is clear that, in demonic terms, there is a hierarchy in play.
But does the matter of little prayer equate to the actualisation of little faith?
The disciples may not have been aware of the need to actively pray and fast in situations like this. That seems to be the literal rendering of the above passage. Certainly a good quotient of prayer does equate to a resonating faith—in that, it’s an action suggesting, in this case of healing, it’s beyond human power. Prayer is about seeking God’s help, for only God can help.
The Regime of Prayer for Healing
Let us again recommence by reiterating an ode to prayer: it is a vocal or non-vocal surrender of faith in human power to allow, and rely upon, God’s power to reign over the given situation. Only God’s Spirit can heal.
Prayer, as a spiritual technique for healing, is nothing about feeling that the healing will take place, how that might occur, and when. Prayer is not bargaining with God to ‘negotiate’ the healing. It is, however, an admission that God has the power to heal; to make disparate, and powerless, the powers of evil, and to restore holy balance.
It needs also to be said that fasting in conjunction with prayer must be a faith-held action—too often we fast for the wrong motives, even in a works-righteousness mental backdrop. We might be lulled into thinking, “If I fast for *this period* then God will transact the healing.” This sort of fasting will only hinder opportunities for healing; the Spirit is grieved at an apparent lack of faith. We cannot ‘improve’ the chances of healing by fasting in certain ways; but we can prove obedient by simply fasting in faith.
If we are to use prayer to facilitate healing in Jesus’ name, we ought to remind ourselves that the power for healing comes from God, and not in any way from the words, or the amount, we pray. The words we pray, and the manner of our prayer, are merely utterances of faith—those essential for knowledge of the miraculous.
Surrendering control for healing through prayer to God is all we are asked to do. Our faith will have us, then, believing that healing can, might, or will occur—through no work of our own apart from the faith to simply pray.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.