Jesus…rebuked the unclean spirit…Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him…And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”
So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:25-29)
The disciples could not cast out the demon because they misdiagnosed the problem, and thus, misapplied the remedy. Christians do this all the time. Wrong analysis, wrong solution, continual bondage.
There can be high-level demons, entrenched spirits who are deeply embedded in the high places of our heart. Like the young man in our story, they may have been with some of us since our childhood. These entrenched demons have become so familiar to us that we consider them a part of our personality.
Demons don’t play fair. These vile spirits have entered our lives through undealt with trauma, bitterness, unforgiveness, sin, rebellion, or injustice. Not all demonic powers enter because of things we’ve done. Some enter through evil done to us. They make themselves at home in our heart and we settle into a kind of treaty with the devil, learning to live with their presence.
I once knew a poor black boy in South Carolina, who had broken his ankle many years before, never saw a doctor and thus, never had the bone set right. He learned to walk with a limp and his ankle was deformed. It all seemed natural to him—he had learned to compensate. High-level spirits work the same way within our heart. If we never deal with their presence, our hearts become dark and broken in certain areas. We grow to consider these dark places as normal and so adapt.
Jesus is saying that we can be set free from even high level, entrenched, familiar spirits. With the right diagnosis there is a powerful remedy. As Liz has said to me, “Steve, there is not one demon that Jesus cannot uproot and drive out.” I believe that. Do you?
As we enter a new year, let me encourage you to take inventory of your heart. Are there areas of your heart that are in bondage? Are you still struggling with that same sin year after year?
Jesus is telling us that there is a strategy and weapon for freedom—prayer and fasting. Yes, as unfun and unpopular as this remedy may sound to our twenty-first century easy living American churchianity ears, it’s still true. Jesus is saying to us, freedom comes through fasting and prayer. All of the great saints in scripture did it; Jesus did it; all of the great men and women in history did it; Liz and I have seen breakthrough dozens of times through prayer with fasting.
It has become a Holt tradition to begin each year with a time of fasting and prayer. This is a kind of reset button for our lives. We ask the Lord to show us things that are not what they should be, rejoice in those things God has done, and refocus for what lies ahead. Let me encourage such a time in your schedule.
If you are in Colorado Springs, join The Road on January 5-9th (not the 7th) for a time of fasting and prayer with what we are calling “Windstorm.” We will meet at Chapel Hills Church each night from 6-8pm. We believe that new freedom is available through the power of Jesus working with fasting and prayer.
On the road with you,
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