“…This kind comes out only by prayer and fasting…”
These words of the Lord again encourage us on the fourth Sunday of Great lent. At times we forget, or completely fail to see, the reasons why the Church calls us to the feat of temperance. Regrettably, sometime in our understanding lent has only a dietary value, and the prayers and chants of the Great lent – capable of warming our cold hearts – are understood by us only as a variety of the church’s repertoire.
That is why it is necessary to pay careful attention to the message of this Sunday’s Gospel. Having heard that His disciples were unable to free the pitiable young man, the Lord chastises the father of the sufferer for unbelief. “All things are possible for him, who believes,” says the Lord and – as an answer to the cry of the father: “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief!” – He heals the one, who was tormented by the unclean spirit since childhood.
From the question of the disciples “why couldn’t we…” one can see that they believed in the Lord. But He, by His mercy, did not leave them without saving instruction. Having pointed the father to faith as the necessary means of healing, the Lord points the disciples to the perfection of the faith, setting forth prayer and fasting as the means of achieving perfection.
Thus, the Lord teaches that it is necessary to have faith, and not only to have it, but also to perfect it by fasting and prayer. We always need faith, whether we ask the Lord on behalf of others or for ourselves. It is also very important that it not be like that of demons: they believe and tremble, but do not repent. The true fruit of fasting and prayer is a heart that is broken and humbled.
Let us, therefore, break our hearts by fasting and prayer, and humbly cry out: “I believe, O Lord, help my unbelief!” So that we, by the mercy of God and by temperance according to our strength, may be delivered from passions and unclean spirits which destroy us, and may meet the radiant resurrection of the Lord with joy. Amen.
Priest Viatcheslav Davidenko