What does it mean to have faith in Jesus Christ? Most people would answer by saying they believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came into the world to save sinners. And they would be correct, but is it enough to offer these few words about belief? The difficult answer unfortunately is, “NO!” It is not enough to just believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He came into the world to save sinners. After all…..even the devil believes in Jesus Christ.
When faced with the hard realities of struggle and sickness the disciples of Jesus were unable to heal a boy sick with epilepsy. When they asked Jesus why they were unable to heal him Jesus said, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17.20) About the sick boy Jesus said, “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17.21)
There will be times in our life when “mental faith” in Jesus is not sufficient. By this I mean that we must use that faith by offering ourselves to Jesus as a sacrifice of prayer and fasting and be willing to embrace whatever answer God offers for our prayer….and sometimes the answer is going to be ‘NO.” It will take great faith to accept this answer from God, since as fallen human beings we have been trained to think we should receive everything we want when we want it.
Does this mean that we will ‘get whatever we want’ every time we pray and fast? I can’t tell you whether we will or will not always get what we want. I can tell you that when we pray and fast, we learn better WHAT to want. We pray and fast not just to ‘check some box’ on a list of requirements. Prayer and fasting isn’t an application for a job in heaven. It takes a deep faith, the sort of faith expressed in the self-sacrifice of fasting and prayer, to accept that it’s not always about getting what we want. It’s about what God wants.