Gospel Reading: Matthew 17:14-23
In today’s gospel reading, a man is in distress and kneels before Jesus pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; for often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him." Jesus told the man to bring Him his son, and Jesus healed him immediately. The disciples wondered at how they had tried to help the boy, yet were not able to. However, Jesus explained that they could not cast out the demon because of their lack of faith, “For truly I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move hence to yonder place,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting."
Jesus highlights the power of prayer and fasting, and their ability to protect us! We are able to pray and fast for the protection of someone else we care about, as well as for ourselves. Of course, it is recommended that this be done with the guidance of a spiritual father and guide.
St Theophan the Recluse explains that, “Fasting is comprehensive temperance, and prayer is comprehensive communication with God. The former defends from the outside, whereas the latter directs a fiery weapon against the enemies from within. The demons can sense a man of abstinence and prayer from a distance, and they run far away from him so as to avoid a painful blow.”