This is taken from the Forty-Day Fasting Challenge Devotional:
Power in Fasting
When visiting the tourist town of Frankenmuth, MI not that long ago, our party stopped inside a cute little coffee shop just off the main street. Being a strong coffee drinker myself I decided to order a Black Eye, a mocha espresso mixed with original house blend coffee. When I got up to the counter and placed my order, the young woman jokingly replied “right or left?” while holding up a clenched fist. In striking up a conversation, I discovered that she was taking Tae Kwon Do lessons at a nearby dojo.
In Tae Kwon Do, before you learn all the fancy kicks and high-flying punches, you start with simple push ups and other strength exercises. A student has to first condition their body to acquire the right muscle tone in order to perform the advanced moves of the art. If the body is not strengthened enough, these advanced moves can in fact cause great harm. The same is true with spiritual power.
Jesus’ disciples tried and tried to help out a distressed father when his son, who was an epileptic, kept falling by reason of evil influences into dangerous and physical situations. All of their attempts were futile as the boy continued to suffer under these spirits of death. Finally, the boy was brought to Jesus and in a simple display of power Christ commanded the demon spirits to leave and the boy was instantly healed. When the disciples questioned why they were unable to exert this same level of power, Christ responded “But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21).
Spiritual disciplines, such as fasting, are the pre-requisites to spiritual power. Jesus certainly understood this principle for He himself had to go through strength conditioning in the wilderness prior to his appointment with the tempter. Jesus had just come up out of the river Jordan where He was baptized by John. The Holy Spirit came down and ascended upon him like a dove while the Father affirmed his headship and delight. Then immediately, as Mark highlights, the Spirit led him into the deeper, most remote parts of the wilderness for a forty day fast.
If Christ received the anointing power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the enemy at his water baptism then why the long period of discipline and conditioning away from the people and places of ministry? The answer is; Jesus needed that spiritual power which comes only by prayer and fasting. The devil would never have let Jesus alone if He did not face him in the wilderness. Jesus had to overcome the hinderer in order to work the supernatural acts done throughout his ministry term on earth.
For the church to move into its new level of destiny in ministry it too needs to overcome those things that hinder. We ascertain that “Jesus had taken upon him our flesh, and hence he could be tempted, with a possibility of falling. But his divinity insured his victory over temptation. He became like us in ability to fall, that he might make us like unto himself in power to resist.” (Pendleton, McGarvey and PhilipY) Because Christ overcame the devil in the wilderness so can the spiritually disciplined church, by Christ and empowered of the Holy Ghost, overcome every attack of the enemy and move into a new level of glory (see 2 Cor. 3:18).
The church has been given the power “to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19). Let us fast, let us pray, and let us hold up clenched fists and say “Devil, right or left for your black eye?”