This episode brought up some interesting questions to me. I have rebuked sickness in others and myself before, and it has left. I could not do it with this. We prayed, we rebuked sickness and infection, we did everything we could think of spiritually. Still, the fever remained. It caused me to question the validity of the message I have presented in some of the other posts. Thankfully, God is still faithful even in the midst of my doubt.
I asked Him why we did not see the healing in Beckie we expected. The message of the power and authority of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers has been a powerful and enlightening message, but when I needed the power most, it failed. He reminded me of the story in which the disciples were attempting to drive out a demon but were unable to do so. Jesus came over and immediately the demon was exorcised. What was the reason? Let me recount the story.
When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
"What are you arguing with them about?" he asked.
A man in the crowd answered, "Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed of a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not."
"O unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me."
So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
Jesus asked the boy’s father, "How long has he been like this?"
"From childhood," he answered. It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."
"’If you can’?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you come out of him and never enter him again."
The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, "He’s dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn’t we drive it out?"
He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer."
In Matthew 17:20, Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ question was this: "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. 21But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."
So here I am, like the disciples, asking why I could not drive out the sickness, and Christ tells me the same thing, "Because you have so little faith...this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting." When you read the story, you do not see Jesus gathering the elders and praying for a long time, fasting, tearing his clothes, or going through any other motions. He just simply rebukes the demon. So, He did not need prayer and fasting, did he?
Yes, he did! He came in prepared with prayer and fasting. His lifestyle was one of prayer and fasting. He was in intimate communion with the Holy Spirit through continuous prayer and/or fasting. And I was not. This is the message He was giving to the disciples: live your lives in such a way so as to not be taken by surprise. Be prepared at all times through prayer and fasting. Then when you are presented with a situation, you can take care of it rather than be overcome with doubt.
As I tried to rebuke the infection, and it would not go, my response was a feeling of doubt. Thoughts began to come to mind like, "Why doesn’t God do this?" "Am I doing something wrong?" "Maybe it is not God’s desire to outright heal her." I experienced many different thoughts which stymied my faith, for I had so little. You see, Romans 10:17 says faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ. We can only hear his word when we are in prayer. This is what prayer is, conversation with the LORD. Fasting helps us to drown out the rest of the world and hear Him more clearly. Thus our faith is bolstered through prayer and fasting as we make Christ the center of our lives. LORD I confess to you I have not made you the center of my life.
I have too often been guilty of giving token prayer and fasting, but not making it a discipline in my life. Those who make it a discipline, who seek the LORD always and fully, see marvelous things occur in their lives. Those who do not find themselves riddled with doubt, often unwilling to address the deeper needs and subjects, and excusing this with appeals to the sovereignty of God or "His ways are higher than ours."
Have you ever heard the excuse, "Well, God is sovereign?" Yes, He is, but that has little to do with why we do not see healings or the miraculous. He has already told us we will see miraculous things in our lives if we follow Him. He said ask anything in my name and it will be given to you. He did not qualify this with, "except for such and such a time when I decide not to." God is sovereign, and his sovereign decision is to give without sparing to his people. So then, in the receiving of gifts such as healing, the question comes back to this: "am I one of your people, God?" Oh, LORD, I so want to be.