This Kind Does Not Go Out Except by Prayer and Fasting

…the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive [the demon causing the boy to have seizures] out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” – Matt. 17:19-21

In response to His disciples inquiring why they couldn’t drive a seizure-producing demon out of a boy when He had been apart from them, Jesus spoke the critically important truth put forth above. In Mark’s account, Jesus called this particular demon a deaf and dumb spirit; it robbed the boy of speech, and caused him to have what we call grand mal seizures today, complete with convulsions, rigidity, foaming at the mouth, and gnashing of the teeth (Mark 9:17-29)

Picture how frightening such a demonic manifestation would have been for the disciples to apply their faith to in Jesus’ absence! Nevertheless, the Lord’s word here is that even a tiny mustard seed of faith is sufficient to move mountains such as this. Praise God, His Word is omnipotent – all powerful, always effectual. Incongruence between God’s word and our experience today is always due to an issue with the earthen conduits…

Now, the disciples had at least a mustard-seed of God-pleasing faith at this point in time. Having left their families and their livelihoods to follow Jesus, they had already driven many demons from numerous people when away from His physical presence. Therefore, it is apparent than another force was present, preventing the disciples from driving the demon out of the boy.

The faith-impeding factor was alluded to by verse 21: But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. If you are unfamiliar with this key verse, it might be because it appears only as a footnote in many of the modern Bible translations. In Mark’s account, Jesus’ full response to the disciples’ inquiry “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” was simply This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting” (9:28-29), with the last two words similarly appearing only as a footnote in many modern translations.

Jesus’s words “this kind” refer to a supernatural power that prevented the disciples from driving the demon from the seizing and foaming boy. Having just taught that a tiny mustard-seed of faith is sufficient, our Lord reveals that it is a different demonic power that the disciples have opened themselves up to which inhibits them from driving the very frightening demon out of the boy. The disciples must pray (in the Holy Spirit – see Jude v. 20) and fast (deny themselves) in order that this less conspicuous kind of demon be cast out of them.

Scripture does not record Jesus naming this particular kind of demon, but we can discern a name or two for it, can’t we? Either “fear” or “unbelief” would fit. The latter is suggested by both Jesus’ exclamation “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” and by the boy’s father’s appeal to Jesus in the first half of Mark’s account of the story: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (9:19; 24). What an important confession and supplication the latter is for us all!

Now here is our point: regardless of what name is applied to this faith-crippling supernatural power, the Lord is revealing that intimacy with Christ and self-denial are the means by which He has ensured that His disciples may be delivered of it. Praise God! The same Spirit that empowered Jesus of Nazareth to perform miracles delivers us from captivity and then empowers us to heal and deliver others as well: I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. (John 14:12-13).

Hallelujah! This is Isaiah 61 come to pass through us, the members of His Body! Let us worship Christ our Deliverance, our Life, our Joy!

Praying, denying self, and moving mountains with you in Christ, your sister deanna

(see recent post, Knowing, Seeing, and Believing the Glorious Truth, then Speaking it Forth)

7 thoughts on “This Kind Does Not Go Out Except by Prayer and Fasting

  1. I just wanted to let you know that I was extremely encouraged by your article! As a high school senior, I have been heavily burdened with the desire to seek and apply the spiritual gifts, specifically healing, and the only thing holding me back has been my own disbelief. My current life story can be summed up by the words of the man in Mark that you mentioned in your post: “I do believe; help me overcome my disbelief!”

    My past addictions, fleshly desires, and fear try to stop me from experiencing all that God has for me, and it has frustrated me to no end! Funny enough, I had gotten a feeling from the Holy Spirit that I should fast from my blogging, video games, and anime so that I can increase my faith, and it turns out that it was the correct notion! Right now, I am waiting for the Lord to break my heart in love for other people and reveal the higher gifts so that I can glorify His name!

    It’s such a blessing to find a person like you who does believe God still gives spiritual gifts to His people in this present day because the Christians that surround my life seriously doubt these claims. I know that they are real: I have heard of Christians like Todd White work miracles through the power of Jesus Christ and have read about my savior brining men back from the dead 2000 years ago!

    I was wondering if you could keep me in your prayers, as I am still discovering and figuring out what faith truly means, and I would be lying if I said it was easy. This has been the most difficult times in my life, and everything inside of my head is telling me to quit. I just need spiritual strength so that I can continue to walk in His great plan for my life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I praise God for you, and for all that He has done in you to bring you to desire and write such things! Such a blessing you are to the Body of Christ! It is our (false! already crucified!) selves that we overcome in Christ; daily and even hourly we are to know the glorious truths (e.g. Romans ch 6), deny the old man (e.g. know our utter depravity apart from Christ as in Romans ch 7), and put on the new man / walk in accordance with the Spirit (Romans ch 8).

      Have you read any of the excerpts/transcripts of Dan Mohler ministing the word, particularly this one on healing?
      And here is another long piece that applies to you (it was originally nine articles the Lord gave me to write about His leaders, consolidated into one):

      I am praying as you request not only for you but for the both of us – what great things to pray! Such desires please the Lord greatly! Let us keep pressing on together to apprehend that for which Christ Jesus has apprehended us! 😊 Please let me know if the Lord speaks to you via any other articles as well.


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