When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 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.”
There is something rather interesting about this passage, and we miss it if we do not pay close attention. The preceding verses indicate that Jesus’s disciples had been asked to drive out this spirit from the boy. The only reason that his father approached Jesus at this time was that the disciples were not able to fulfill his request. They had tried but failed. It is unclear how many of them tried and for how long, but it is clear that they were not equipped to drive out this spirit. Then Jesus, after delivering the boy successfully, indicates that there is something special to be done in this specific instance. He tells them that fasting and prayer were the key to that deliverance, but the interesting thing is that Jesus did not fast and pray in that moment.
Jesus simply delivered the boy with words of authority, which means that his fasting and prayer had to have been prior preparation. Those boxes already were checked when He arrived on the scene to wage this spiritual war against the forces of darkness. Jesus was ready to go at the drop of a hat because He had taken the time to build up the necessary spiritual strength beforehand. I used to read this verse and think that the point was to illustrate that different spirits require different methods of attack. I think now the point is to make sure we are prepared for all kinds of warfare at all times. Considering that we never know what will lie ahead, this expectation means that we must prepare beforehand in every way that God commands.
If fasting and prayer is a lifestyle, we will be ready always. Imagine visiting a doctor with your complaint and having him tell you that he had not prepared for your specific situation. Imagine him asking you to give him time to get ready then return with whatever ails you. People will come to us for spiritual help, and we really cannot afford to be unprepared. Prayer is not a difficult way for us to stay connected to God so that we are spiritually ready when needed. Fasting can be more challenging, but making it a habit and routine is necessary for us to have certain breakthroughs, so let us pursue that. Father, teach us how we should prepare for our current and future spiritual victories, and give us the discipline to be spiritually prepared for every battle ahead.