This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29 NKJV).
Do you need a breakthrough in prayer? A spiritual breakthrough is a sudden leap forward in an area where we’ve been seeking God and persisting in prayer. A breakthrough occurs after a long struggle against some kind of obstacle or enemy. In short, a breakthrough is getting “unstuck.” One of the ways I’ve experienced breakthroughs in prayer is through fasting. Not sure why fasting adds power to my prayers. It just does. Jesus spoke of fasting as a normal part of one’s spiritual life. “When you fast,” he said. Not “if you fast.”
During a recent trip to Africa, I was inspired to renew my own emphasis on fasting. The wonderful believers I encountered there, who face continual hardships and challenges to their faith, view fasting as a powerful tool in their prayer arsenal. I was reminded of one of my own power encounters through fasting that occurred several years ago. Though somewhat amusing, this incident stands as a powerful reminder to me about the power of fasting for a breakthrough in prayer. Thought I’d share the story with you today:
“Only by Prayer and Fasting”
Though David and I had hoped for a third child, some of our friends were a little perplexed that we wanted another baby. After years of infertility and the birth of a beautiful daughter and a fine strong son, the unspoken comment was, “Why put yourself through the anguish, the medical treatments, the financial sacrifice of ‘trying’ for another baby?” And yet, we felt like we weren’t quite complete. I used to say it was like someone was still “trying to come to us.” And sure enough, just a couple of months shy of my fortieth birthday, our little Michael made his memorable entrance into this world.
Our lives, which had become fairly stable and predictable with a nine year old and soon to be six year old, took a sudden detour back to the world of midnight feedings, diapers, and harried schedules. Things were made a little easier by the fact that Michael was and is a very happy child. But he was also very active, highly curious and always “into” something. I had to call poison control three times in one week shortly before he turned two…this is still a family record. He also suffered from croup and began developing sinus infections that same winter. We went through an especially long stretch of repeated sinus infections, which seemed resistant to antibiotics. The saga lasted for over six weeks, and this “forty-something” mother of a toddler was becoming more and more exhausted. Doctors were baffled, and our next step was to be a series of x-rays to get at the cause of these sinus issues, which were becoming worse by the day.
I decided in desperation to fast for our son. My experience with fasting was as a seldom used tool, mostly for situations where I had reached the end of my own strength. My repeated prayer that day as I went about my business was simply, “Help, Lord…we’ve tried everything. Surely you know what is causing these repeated infections. Please show me!”
Shortly after lunch, I let Michael venture outside to play a little while. He wasn’t feverish and I thought the fresh air would help. A few minutes later, he ran inside pointing to his nose. For a split second, I simply thought he wanted me to wipe it until I realized that a partially lodged brass pin-backing (the kind used to fasten sports insignias) was sticking out of his nostril!
As I gently removed the badly tarnished (and very gross) pin, I was stunned to realize this was the culprit of our forty-day ordeal! Michael, in his “toddler language” tried to explain to me that he had climbed out of his crib one night, unfastened one of the pins on his big brother’s baseball cap and stuck it in his nose. Who knew? As we stood there, Michael and I, half laughing, half-crying, a calm, and somewhat amused voice spoke silently to my heart—“This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting!” (see Mark 9:29)