Matthew 17:21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
This is a small verse but it is left out of some translations. We have an answer within His word and yet some translations leave this verse out. Why?
Are we praying? Are we Fasting? Are we trusting HIS transforming POWER?? Or are we just sitting idle “hoping” some of these things are changed? HE gave us the answer of TRUTH did HE not? He showed us how these prayers are answered and what must be done.
This happens right after the disciples were witness to the transformation of Christ which is written about in Matthew 17:1-13.
Now the disciples beheld somewhat of Christ’s glory, as of the only begotten of the Father. It was intended to support their faith, when they would have to witness his crucifixion; and would give them an idea of the glory prepared for them, when changed by his power and made like him. The apostles were overcome by the glorious sight. (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
And when they approached the multitude, a man came up to Him, kneeling before Him and saying,
Lord, do pity and have mercy on my son, for he has epilepsy (is [e]moonstruck) and he suffers terribly; for frequently he falls into the fire and many times into the water.
And I brought him to Your disciples, and they were not able to cure him.
And Jesus answered, O you unbelieving (warped, wayward, rebellious) and thoroughly perverse generation! How long am I to remain with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to Me.
And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly.
Then the disciples came to Jesus and asked privately, Why could we not drive it out?
He said to them, Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of (firmly relying trust). For truly I say to you, if you have faith [that is living] like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.
21But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
17:14-21 The case of afflicted children should be presented to God by faithful and fervent prayer. Christ cured the child. Though the people were perverse, and Christ was provoked, yet care was taken of the child. When all other helps and succours fail, we are welcome to Christ, may trust in him, and in his power and goodness. See here an emblem of Christ’s undertaking as our Redeemer. It encourages parents to bring children to Christ, whose souls are under Satan’s power; he is able to heal them, and as willing as he is able. Not only bring them to Christ by prayer, but bring them to the word of Christ; to means by which Satan’s strong-holds in the soul are beaten down. It is good for us to distrust ourselves and our own strength; but it is displeasing to Christ when we distrust any power derived from him, or granted by him. There was also something in the malady which rendered the cure difficult. The extraordinary power of Satan must not discourage our faith, but quicken us to more earnestness in praying to God for the increase of it. Do we wonder to see Satan’s bodily possession of this young man from a child, when we see his spiritual possession of every son of Adam from the fall!
Bible Tracks Commentary;
We find the fullest account of this incident in Mark’s Gospel. Jesus, along with Peter, James and John, are returning from the Transfiguration ((Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:28-36, see notes). At this point they apparently are still in northern Israel around Caesarea Phillipi where they had arrived in Matthew 18:16/Mark8:27 (see notes). Jesus’ remaining disciples had stayed behind had made an attempt to cast a demon out of a man’s son, but with no success. Jesus does cast the demon out, and as a result the boy is healed. We should point out here that not all sickness is to be attributed to demon possession. (See the article entitled “Trial versus Chastisement” for more details on this subject.) Notice the description of his symptoms in Mark 9:18, “And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away:” There’s no question; today’s doctors would have diagnosed this young man with some sort of extreme mental illness and medicated him, but Jesus concurs with the diagnosis of his father as demon possession. We see that Jesus’ disciples had made a failed attempt. Apparently Jesus’ remark was aimed at his disciples when he called them “faithless and perverse” because of their failure. Jesus must have sensed that the disciples were not praying for healing in the proper context of faith. After extricating the demon, Jesus is asked by his disciples why they were not able to do the same. Jesus points out that it was because of a lack of faith. How is this faith acquired? Jesus replies, “by prayer and fasting.”
Paul practiced fasting himself. Since fasting is mentioned in the New Testament approximately 31 times in 26 different verses (see below), it would be difficult to maintain that fasting is not a valid practice for Believers today. Isaiah dealt with the essence of fasting in Isaiah 58.
Here are additional references to fasting found in the New Testament:
Jesus fasted (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13, see notes)
Jesus gave instructions on fasting (Matthew 6:16-18, see notes)
Jesus explained the proper motivation for fasting (Matthew 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39, see notes)
Jesus makes a passing reference to fasting (Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-9, see notes)
The prophetess Anna (Luke 2:37, see notes)
Jesus mentions that a hypocritical Pharisee fasted in a parable (Luke 18:12, see notes)
Cornelius had been fasting (Acts 10:30, see notes)
Disciples fasting (Acts 14:23, see notes)
A reference to the one held by the Jews on the Day of Atonement (Acts 27:9, see notes)
At the commissioning of Barnabas and Saul (Acts 13:2-3, see notes)
In instructions to husbands and wives by Paul (I Corinthians 7:5, see notes)
Passing references to Paul’s own fasting (II Corinthians 6:5, see notes); II Corinthians 11:27, see notes).
It is difficult from these passages to pull together a comprehensive doctrine on fasting, but it is obvious that the concept has not been invalidated under grace. It would appear that fasting is akin to importunity/persistence. It adds a level of sincerity and urgency to our petitions before God. Incidentally, God knows how sincere we are, but fasting may very well be the key that helps us realize how importantly we regard our own petition. In other words, fasting demonstrates an intensity in prayer that may not be demonstrated any other way.