Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
He replied, “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.” (Matthew 17:19-21)
“Why couldn’t we…”; we must all share this thought of the disciples from time to time. Why do our prayers seem to bounce against the ceiling or seem impotent? Why do we claim faith in the light but question our beliefs in the night? Jesus proclaimed the answer to the disciples, then and now: we have so little faith. Our faith is not muscular but bony and frail, though we might try to portray it otherwise. Appearances have become paramount at the experience of a true sacrificial faith.
Strong faith requires prayer. Strong prayer requires forsaking other things that threaten to derail or weaken that faith. We must be people who fast in order to retrain our sights on that which forms our core. To abstain from food nourishment is to point our souls to the deep well of being nourished in prayer. We can so easily feed our sorrows, fears, and failures and then when satisfied, forget about them. Throwing that crutch aside we must rely on the only thing that will satisfy our deepest hungers for meaning and purpose. As Murray reminds us “Prayer is the one hand with which we grasp the invisible; fasting, the other, with which we let loose and cast away the visible.”