Praying Through the Bible #136
TEXT: Matthew 17:14-21
14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,
15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.
16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.
17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 135 messages in this series.
This is message #136 titled, Combating Satan’s Strongholds Through Prayer and Fasting (Part 1)
Have you ever faced a problem so difficult that, no matter what you did on your own, you could not resolve it? Have you ever been in a situation which made you feel as though you were helpless to do anything to fix it? If so, then you know something of what the father and the disciples felt in this passage. As we look at the context, we see that Jesus had just come down from a high mountain with his inner circle of disciples — Peter, James, and John. Up in the mountain, these three disciples experienced the transfiguration — they saw Jesus Christ in His glorified form along with Moses and Elijah. Coming off of this mountain-top experience, Jesus and the three disciples are confronted with a man who is facing a Satanic stronghold — he has a demon-possessed epileptic son, and Jesus’ disciples could neither cast out the demon nor cure the epilepsy.
Matthew Henry describes the condition of the child this way: “The nature of this child’s disease was very sad; He was lunatic and sore vexed. A lunatic is properly one whose distemper lies in the brain. The devil, by the divine permission, either caused this distemper, or at least concurred with it, to heighten and aggravate it. The child had the falling-sickness, and the hand of Satan was in it; by it he tormented then, and made it much more grievous than ordinarily it is. Those whom Satan got possession of, he afflicted by those diseases of the body which do most affect the mind; for it is the soul that he aims to do mischief to… The effects of the disease were very deplorable; He oft falls into the fire, and into the water. If the force of the disease made him to fall, the malice of the devil made him to fall into the fire or water; so mischievous is he where he gains possession and power in any soul. He seeks to devour.”
Luke chapter 10 lets us know that the disciples had cast out demons before, but this one, they could not cast out. They were helpless to do anything against the demonic stronghold in the boy’s life. G. Campbell Morgan states that, coming off of the mountain, Jesus “found Himself confronted by that helpless boy, by that helpless father, by that helpless age, by those helpless disciples. There the mountain; now the valley. There glorified saints; here the lunatic. There the King in His heavenly glory; here the representatives of baffled and beaten faith.”
Today, we are going to look at what we can learn from the perspective of the father in this passage on how to overcome Satanic strongholds through prayer.
What is a stronghold? The Greek word for stronghold means fortress or strong defense. In days gone by, kings would establish strongholds throughout their territory. These strongholds would be stocked with soldiers and weapons. The purpose of a stronghold was to prevent an enemy from taking over the land. Speaking about spiritual strongholds, evangelist Ed Silvoso said, “A spiritual stronghold is a mind-set impregnated with hopelessness that causes us to accept as unchangeable, situations that we know are contrary to the will of God.” When Satan establishes a stronghold in someone’s life, his purpose is to prevent the life of God from being manifested in that person. Strongholds can exist in both believers and nonbelievers.
Have you ever faced a stronghold in your life or in the life of someone close to you? Maybe it was a sin habit that you seemed unable to stop. Maybe it was demonic possession. Maybe it was a good spiritual act — such as soulwinning, praying, or serving in the church — which you refused to do. Whatever it was, you simply could not overcome that stronghold in your life. How do you deal with such a stronghold? How do you overcome?
The first thing we learn from the interaction of the father with Jesus Christ in this passage is that you must have a desire to overcome the stronghold. The father of the boy made a decision to come to Jesus’ disciples. He was looking for a cure. And when the disciples couldn’t help him, he waited around for Jesus to show up so he could get the help that he needed.
Notice how this man approached Jesus. Verse 14 says, “there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him.” By bowing down, this man recognized Jesus’ power and authority. Not only did he know that Jesus had authority over him, but he knew that Jesus had authority over the demonic forces that had taken root in his son’s life. The disciples’ inability to cast the demon out of his son did not cause his faith in Jesus Christ to falter.
If we want to be delivered from demonic strongholds in our lives, we must realize that Jesus alone has authority over them. Jesus is stronger than sin and the devil. We cannot overcome these things ourselves, but we can overcome them through the power of Jesus Christ. Our words are ineffective against Satan, but God’s words are, as the Bible says, “mighty to the pulling down of strongholds.” If you try to overcome strongholds yourself, you will not succeed. You need God’s help.
Now, notice this man’s words to Jesus. He says, “Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.” This man realizes and admits the bad situation that he is facing. He tells Jesus what is happening to his son. Oftentimes, the reason why we do not get help is because we are unwilling to admit that we have a problem. Some are so proud that they will not even admit to God that they are in trouble. They try to handle it themselves. They even deceive others and act as though they have it all together — as though everything is going fine in their life. But any good psychologist will tell you that the first step to getting help is to admit that you are in trouble.
If you call the police, you must tell them where you are and what your emergency is in order to get help. When you go to the doctor, you must tell him where you are hurting if you want to get well. It is the same with demonic strongholds or strongholds of sin in our lives: if you want Jesus to help you, you must admit to Him that you have a problem. When was the last time you confessed to God that you are struggling with a sinful habit? When was the last time you admitted in prayer that something happening in your life is beyond your control?
The final aspect of this passage that we are going to look at today is verse 16 where this desperate father says, “I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.” Not only does this man admit his need, but he admits that what he has tried has not worked. Perhaps, like the woman with the issue of blood, this man had taken his son to physicians and the Jewish religious leaders in an attempt to see him healed. No doubt, he and the boy’s mother tried everything they could think of to heal this demon-possessed boy who was being driven to his own injury by throwing himself into fire and water. But nothing worked. Then they brought him to Jesus’ disciples, and that didn’t work. Finally, they came to Jesus Himself, saying, ‘Nothing we have tried has worked. So we are coming to You.’
Right now, consider what kind of stronghold may be in your life. Do you have the desire to overcome that stronghold like the father in Matthew 17? Do you realize that Jesus alone has the power to deliver you from your strongholds? Have you admitted that you actually need help? Have you realized that what you are doing — if anything — is not working? And, most importantly, have you come to Jesus for deliverance?
The devil will have us to believe that we cannot be set free from the strongholds of sin and demonic possession in our lives. The devil will have us to lose hope that the strongholds and shackles in the lives of others cannot be torn down and broken. However, we see that through Jesus Christ we can overcome all strongholds in our lives. It is not by our might, but through His power, that we can be successful and set free. And, as we will see in this passage, we can gain access to that power through prayer.
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.