When we turn to God in prayer and fasting, our hearts are changed to better understand God’s desire for us. Faith the size of mustard seed is enough to move mountains, but every seed needs to be nurtured to produce. When we pray and fast, our faith is nurtured. When we bring ourselves and others to Christ for healing, our prayer and fasting helps us understand to accept God’s will.
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Thank you for tuning in to another episode of be transfigured, where we invite you to live a new life in Christ. We pray that this episode is a blessing to you, and will inspire you to rededicate your life to Jesus Christ. We invite you to join us for worship, or study at the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where visitors are always welcome. We’ll be back in a few moments to share some more information about our ministry.
This morning, my brothers and sisters, the gospel is full of questions. Questions that believers asked Christ directly, and he gave us important answers. The first, is this man, brings his son to Jesus and says, “Look, I brought my son to your disciples, and they could not heal him. So I’m bringing him to you. Please have mercy on him.” Begging him, asking him. And we even see in the gospel that the Lord gets a little frustrated, “How long am I going to be with you? How long are we going to be together? And you still can’t figure it out.” He didn’t say that part. I did, by the way. He says, “Bring him here to me.” And he chastises the Demon, because the boy had a Demon, and immediately, he was made well. And then, another question, his disciples, now remember, they had enough faith that they were following him from town to town. They gave up everything, they were following him, they were listening to him, and they said to him, “Why could we not heal him?”
And Jesus said, “Because of your unbelief, for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain move from here to there, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Then he adds, “However, this kind can only go out except by prayer, and fasting.” Without prayer, and fasting, we cannot defeat the demons in our life. It doesn’t mean that we can have whatever we want from God, just because we pray. I was scanning through the social media yesterday, and I came across a few of the… how do you call them? The prosperity gospel preachers. And we are surrounded by other pastors, and other religious leaders, who are telling people, “Just believe, and you will have wealth. Just believe, and you will have good health. Just believe, And you will have, fill in the blank.”
As if God is some ATM machine in the sky, and our prayers are just punching in our security code. By the way, in case you’re wondering, God is not an ATM in the sky, just in case you are wondering. And yet, what happens when people who are taught, “Just believe, and you will get,” what happens when they don’t get?
I was having a conversation recently with someone who has a very sick member of their family. And we’ve all gone through this. “How do I pray?” This person asks me, and I was remembering when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. And every day I prayed for her healing from God, three years later, God healed my mother through death. God didn’t give me exactly what I wanted just because I was praying for it. In this morning’s gospel, the father didn’t get exactly what he wanted just because he prayed for it. I don’t want us to believe that we can go out… of course, we don’t have mountains here in Florida, but if we did have mountains in Florida, to go out, and look at this mountain and say, “Get out of my way.” And we somehow expect that the mountain is going to levitate out of the ground and move.
So what is Christ getting at when he’s challenging us in these matters of faith? My brothers and sisters, what he wants us to understand is… he even mentions this mustard seed, faith like a mustard seed. The mustard seed goes into the ground, but there’s not a big, giant tree overnight. There’s not some magic bean, we’re not talking about Jack and the Beanstalk, we’re talking about faith in Christ. If we have the faith as a mustard seed, and we plant that faith in our hearts, and nurture it with prayer, and fasting, and tend to it, and let it grow, and let it develop, then it will burst forth as a huge tree. But it takes effort, and time, and patience.
Raise your hand, how many of you like to garden? I know a couple of you have gardens. Do you get your vegetables the day you plant something in the ground? Absolutely not. You think I’m crazy if I’m even asking the question. It requires patience, it requires care, and attention. This is what God is asking from us today. Have faith to put in the work, have faith to turn to God in prayer, and have faith, even in our fasting, so that we can better understand God, and better understand what he wants for us. And remember, it gets lost in the way the story is told this morning in the gospel, remember what Christ said to the father. He said, “Bring him here to me.” It begins my brothers and sisters with bringing ourselves, and bringing our friends, and bringing our family, to Christ. Healing begins by bringing ourselves, and others, to Christ. Then in prayer and fasting, then God can do what he wants to do, then God can heal us.
Prayer, asking God, not, “God, my will be done,” but, “God, your will be done.” And then having the faith, and courage, to trust that God’s will is better sometimes, I should say all of the times, better than our will. That requires faith, and it requires patience. And when we fast, we learn that we can’t always have what we want. Life, my brothers and sisters, is the fire, is the water, that the boy was thrown into. We’ve all been thrown into the fire, we’ve all been thrown into the water. And now we come to Christ for our healing in faith, in our prayer, in our fasting, and we just wait for God’s grace to come upon us. Glory to God, for all things.
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These are my two things that sustain me — daily reading fasting – prayers at various times of day