12 Purposes of Fasting
By Pastor Bill Murchison
There are many reasons or purposes for fasting. Today, I want to look at a sixth reason, which is to increase our faith. In Matthew 17:14-21 we have the account of the man whose son had a demon. Luke says that his son was a lunatic and very ill. He would fall into the fire and into water. The demon was trying to destroy the boy. The father obviously loved his son and was doing everything he could to find a cure for his son. He brought his son to the disciples, but they were not able to cure him. So, he was persistent and brought him to Jesus, and asked Him to have mercy on his son.
“Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me. And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.”
The disciples came to Jesus privately and asked Him why they were not able to drive out the demon. Jesus tells them that they were not able to do it because of the littleness of their faith. It did not take a lot of faith. In fact, if they had the faith the size of a mustard see, they could say to the mountains, “move from here to there, and it would move.” Then, Jesus went on to say that “this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Jesus did not leave the scene and go pray and fast for the boy. Jesus had already prayed. Jesus had already fasted. Jesus was always ready for every ministry opportunity, because He fasted and prayed regularly. We are not only to pray and fast for spiritual discernment, but also for our faith to be built up so that we can handle the situations that the Lord brings our way.
In Jude 20-23, we are told to build ourselves up on our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. Why? Because we are to have mercy on those who are doubting, saving others, snatching them out of the fire, and to have mercy on others with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Jesus’ faith had been built up. He had mercy on the little boy, and had pulled him from the fire. Jesus had spent time praying and fasting in preparation for that ministry situation.
Father, as we pray and fast, build our faith. Help us to be instruments of Your mercy, snatching people out of the fire. Help our mustard seeds grow into mustard trees. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.