Friday, August 7, 2015

What is Gained by Prayer and Fasting?

Shortly after He was transfigured on Mount Tabor, Jesus was met by a father who had a sick child. Nobody had been able to cure his son, not even the Disciples. The man said to Jesus, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” (Matthew 17.15-16) When Jesus challenged the man to believe, the man said, “I believe, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9.24) Neither the faith of the Disciples NOR the father was strong enough to cure the boy of his epilepsy. So what did Jesus say?

“If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move....However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17.21) Jesus knew their faith needed to become stronger, so He reminds them of the power of prayer and fasting. Their faith could not grow so long as they remained focused on the physical world.

This story isn’t about physical healing, but about faith. Jesus was not promising us that we will always be healed when we pray and fast. He was telling us that when we pray and fast, our faith grows stronger; and when our faith grows stronger, we are able to better understand the illness that affects us. Without faith, we will remain spiritually paralyzed. With faith, “nothing will be impossible.” (Matthew 17.20) What does Jesus mean when says, “nothing” will be impossible? With a stronger faith, we will realize that life isn’t about physical health and comforts, but about uniting ourselves to God through Holy Communion and His Church.

Are you praying and fasting? Your faith will grow strong when you do.

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