Thanks for asking about healing and the prayer and fasting Jesus mentioned.
The passage you refer to is in Mark 9:14-29 where the disciples couldn’t cast the spirit out of a young man. Jesus said ‘…this kind doesn’t come out but by prayer and fasting’.
Some context first about ‘this kind doesn’t come out but by prayer and fasting’. Mark deals with unbelief more than any of the other gospels, and these instances are a fascinating study of people:
1:40-41 – If you are willing…I am willing
2:5-8 and the scribes’ thoughts of unbelief
3:1-6 about how the Pharisees layered unbelief on their hearts and Jesus was angry with them
5:21-43 and Jairus ‘only believe’ after he had heard his daughter had died
6:1-6 unbelief in his home town
6:48-52 walking on the water, when He would have walked right by the boat, and v52 they did not consider the miracle of the loaves, that’s why they had a hard time believing he could water-walk and calm waves.
7:10-13 their traditions make the Word of God of no effect
8:14-21 ‘having eyes see not, having ears hear not, do you not remember?’
8:22-23 had to lay hands on the blind man 2x due to the unbelief in Bethsaida, which in Mt 11:21 He said “woe unto you” because if the miracles done in it had been done in Tyre or Sidon they would have repented…and the man was so full of unbelief Jesus had to lay hands on him 2x and told him not to return into the city
9:14-29 which is what your question is about and the disciples’ inability to cast the spirit out
10:2-5 reveals the reason divorce was given by God was due to the ‘hardness of men’s hearts’, as a way to protect the innocent spouse and allow them to get on with their lives
10:21-31, ‘camel through the eye of a needle’ statement after rich young ruler walked away
10:42-46 true leadership is servant leadership, not lifted in pride and being served
11:22 unbelief about the fig tree withered
14:26-31 Peter’s denial foretold
14:38 the spirit is ready but the flesh is weak about staying awake to pray
14:50-51 Mark is the young man who flees the garden in fear and unbelief with everyone else, in the writing style of the day to use 3rd person to describe an author’s actions, ie II Cor 12 where Paul says ‘I knew a man in Christ…’ speaking of himself
14:66-72 Peter denies Jesus
15:17-20, 31-32 Romans and Jewish leaders mock Him
16:7 Jesus’ grace/angel’s words for repentant Peter at the resurrection: Tell the disciples AND Peter that He goes before you’
16:14 the risen Lord ‘upbraids’ or chastises them for their lack of belief and hardness of heart
So it is important to understand Mark’s tone and what he is trying to communicate – it’s very different than the other gospels, which mention unbelief here and there, but Mark’s whole thrust is to point out unbelief versus faith. Mark wrote for a Roman audience, Romans who lived in a multi-cultural empire, multi-gods, everyone doing what was right in their own eyes – so he zeroed in on the hardness of the human heart, and how that can be changed very simply.
In 9:21 Jesus asked how long this spirit had been in the young man, and the father responded ‘since he was a child’. The father then said ‘If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.
Jesus’ response in the Greek was incredulous: “If you can?! All things are possible to him who believes!” (v23)
So the subject is more about faith and believing and the continual prayer life of someone casting out a spirit that has been a long time in a person, more than the spirit itself.
The word ‘kind’ here is ‘genos’, which can mean ‘kin’, ‘stock’, ‘born’, and is the root where we get genealogy today – so that gives you an idea. It’s not about a type of demon, but rather the ‘family’ of demons that are a long time in a person….not sure if that’s clear, but He is not saying there are special demons that are harder to cast out – no, all are subject to the name of Jesus – but He is saying that when a demon is involved in a long time condition, a stronger in prayer person is needed for that situation.
He had been up on the Mount of Transfiguration and evidently was still glowing when He came down, for v15 says ‘when they (the people) saw Him they were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him.”
This spirit had been in the young man, now in his teens or early 20′s, since he was a boy. Spirits that have been a long time in a person, or if a person has been a long time in a condition, often have a harder time being cast out or receiving healing or deliverance.
During one visitation the Lord taught me a bit about this. Remember our oldest son had brain damage at birth, so that he is about 3 or 4 years old mentally, though today he is 30.
It was a Saturday night during a week long series of meetings, but Saturday night was a concert with Ray Boltz, who is most known for the song “Thank you for giving to the Lord”, and in recent years his candid admission that he is now a homosexual.
But at that time he was walking with the Lord and the anointing was heavy during the concert, and I had wheeled Chris (our son) in his wheelchair onto the main floor, and I sat in a folding chair with him on my right side.
Suddenly I felt the presence of the Lord in the arena, but didn’t see Him, though I was looking around trying to find Him. I said “I know you’re here Lord because I can feel your presence, but I don’t know where you are yet.”
Shortly after that I felt Him walk up behind me, and looked down and behind me over my left shoulder to see Him walk up to me. He began teaching me about healing and conditions that have been in place for some time.
I won’t go into full detail, but the basics are this: People think in pictures. He said “If I say ‘cat’, what do you think of?” and I told Him about our pet cat my brother rescued as a stray when we were kids. He said that’s right for me, but others immediately think and see in their mind other cats…their own, a lion, tiger, etc.
He said that if a person has never known wholeness or has been a long time in a condition, they have little or no concept or vision of what it is like to be whole. He said that if I get sick and believe for healing, I do so knowing that not being sick is my norm, but for others, being handicapped or injured or having a condition is the norm, and seeing themselves whole or delivered is something they cannot easily do.
Remember..Chris is sitting right next to me on my right, Jesus is standing on my left. What He is teaching is directly relatable to Chris and his brain damage from lack of oxygen at birth – not a spirit, but a brain injury. Yet He did not reach over to lay hands on Chris or touch him in any way…hard for me as his dad, but in the Spirit like that it seemed ‘OK’ at the time – I’ve had a few visitations where Chris has been present or very nearby.
He also said that is why He had people who had been a long time in a condition to move – like the man with the withered arm in Mark 3 or the man let down through the roof in Mark 2 and so forth – He said “Often it is helpful for that person being healed to move their body or body part (so they can see and know it is working). The physical therapy’s operate in an element of this in that they make that body part move as it should.”
For instance, my son and where his faith is, is this: “When I get to heaven I won’t have a wheelchair”. I want him healed now, but Chris, being 3 or 4 mentally, has no idea what it is like to be whole, he has never known it and doesn’t have the mental capacity to picture in his mind what wholeness means – except that when he goes to heaven he gets a body that works. A couple months ago he was watching Sesame Street and there were kids running, and spontaneously he said “When I get to heaven I’m going to run like that!”. That’s where he is faith-wise.
In that visitation the Lord went on to mention the woman with the bleeding condition in chapter 5 and how it says ‘when she had heard of Jesus she said’, telling me she pictured in her mind her healing, because she had known health at one time and when she heard what He did, she pictured that in her mind for herself.
He mentioned Blind Bartimeus and how he had the revelation who Jesus was, as seen by him calling Him “Son of David” in 10:47, which is the title of the Messiah and could only have known that by the Holy Spirit, and how that revelation and having heard of Jesus and the miracles He did, brought faith in Bartimeus – thus v52 where Jesus said ‘your faith has made you whole’…and so on. (For more on the term “Son of David” listen to my “Through Jewish Eyes” 2-cd series)
Bartimeus and the woman with the bleeding condition had to picture in their mind their wholeness…
As it pertains to the young man with the seizure disorder (that’s what medicine would call the condition today), that spirit had been in him since he was a small child, and now he was maybe 10 years past that first onset…and the point Jesus was making was the prayer, not for the spirit, but for the person doing the casting out, would be required since it was a long-time condition.
The disciples had already been sent forth casting out demons and healing people (That’s in Luke 9; Luke being the only gospel that claims to put the life of Jesus in chronological order; Lk 1:1).
But they couldn’t cast out this demon that had been such a long time in the young man. That’s why the first question (and only) Jesus asked was ‘How long has he been like this?’….the prayer (and perhaps fasting that often accompanies prayer) is/was about the disciples unbelief (See Matthew 17:20 where he records Jesus saying to the question about why they couldn’t cast it out: “Because of your little faith…”)
And another thing to remember is that the young man needed not only deliverance, but also healing. Luke 9:42 says Jesus both cast the spirit out, and healed the guy. This shows us not every seizure disorder is a spirit, and that sometimes spirits enter in because of other disorders, but not always.
OK…I ranged all over the place, but hope that gives food for thought.
Please send all personal emails or questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org