Finding Faith for the Impossible
“And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” —Mark 9:22-23
Understanding the Context
As Jesus descended from the Mount of Transfiguration in company with Peter, James, and John, He couldn’t help but notice that a crowd had gathered. In the midst of the crowd that had been waiting for His arrival, Jesus noticed two separate groups of men who seemed to be in a heated discussion. As He drew near, He saw that the nine disciples he had left there a day before were arguing with a group of scribes. Jesus asked them, “What are you arguing about?” Silence fell on the crowd and no one answered. Finally, a man stepped forward and stated, “Teacher, I brought my son to you. He is demon possessed. When I found that you were not here, I asked your disciples to cast the demon out of my son, and they could not.”
Jesus responded in a very stern manner. Some feel that His comments were directed toward the scribes, but an honest evaluation demands that we see Jesus also addressing His disciples. He showed His frustration toward their inability to cast the demon out of the man’s son. Jesus cried, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?” (Mark 9:19).
In Mark 6:7-13, we find recorded that Jesus had previously sent forth his disciples with power to cast out demonic forces, as well as to perform other notable miracles. Something had short-circuited their ability to operate in that aspect of their ministry.
The Need to Believe
The father of the demon-possessed one proceeded to tell his story to Jesus—how that while still a child, a demon had taken possession of his only son. They never knew after that when the demon would manifest himself, and the negative results of each manifestation were devastating. When the demon attacked, his son would become rigid as a board, foam at the mouth, and was made deaf and dumb. Each attack further degraded the health and well-being of the child. He looked to Christ and spoke these words of desperation, “If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.” Jesus’ response mirrored the father’s initial request. He said, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”
Just as He had done with the disciples a moment before, Jesus put the responsibility of faith on the son’s father. The father had said, “If you can do anything,” and Jesus replied, “If you can believe.” This clearly established the desire of Christ to see his disciples and others operate by faith. The idea that “all things are possible to him that believeth” is clearly a challenge to all of humanity to believe God to resolve impossible situations. The means by which these impossible situations are to be resolved is through the agency of faith.
The father’s response was an honest one. At first, he declared that he did believe, but then looking closely at his heart, he realized that unbelief was present. He asked the Lord to help his unbelief. Jesus had compassion on the man and his son and cast the demon out, and commanded the demon to never enter the son again.
A little later that evening, Jesus’ disciples asked Him why they could not cast out the demon. Jesus’ reply, as recorded in Matthew 17:20, revealed that the reason for their failure was unbelief. Jesus also went on to say that this kind of problem required prayer and fasting.
So, we must ask ourselves the question, “What does prayer and fasting have to do with faith?” For some, just the act of prayer and fasting is what Jesus referenced, but men cannot earn the power of God through religious activity. If this were true, then God would no longer be operating by grace. Instead, God would be working from a position of debt. In other words, I prayed, therefore, God must release His power. I fasted, therefore, God is bound to give me a miracle. I do not pretend to know everything there is to know about God’s workings with men, but I do know that God will never be indebted to any member of the human race. Forcing God to release power through works is a concept that I do not agree with. However, we must still resolve the question, “How does prayer and fasting tie in with faith?”
Locating the Will of God Through Prayer
Let me suggest the following: most of our praying involves a personal attempt to express our designs and desires upon our heavenly Father. In other words, we are asking God to do this or that in regard to circumstances of our lives. This is not wrong as we are told in Scripture to bring all things to our heavenly Father’s attention, but prayer should be a searching out of the will of God. Whenever I have located the will of God through prayer, I have also found the faith to believe that the issue I had been praying about could be successfully resolved. When I know God’s will in regard to a circumstance or situation, then faith for the desired result abides in my heart. My confidence in God’s willingness to supply the power for the impossible rises each time I petition the Father in regard to that particular circumstance. Prayer that reveals the will of God is significant and faith building. This may take time.
We may need to pray and fast in order to learn what it is we should be asking God. I John 5:14-15 says, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”
Locate the will of God. Secure your faith in God’s purpose and design. I believe you will find the faith to deal with the impossibilities in your life. In this way, prayer and fasting can help you to find the faith necessary for the impossible!