I saw a headline about a woman who had undergone an “exorcism” when she was a teenager. Turns out the article was more about the ol’ abuse by priests than exorcism, but still my mind went to the Matthew (17:21) and Mark (9:29) passages which indicate that demons may be cast out only by prayer and fasting.
Now, in each instance where Jesus cast out a demon it is not shown that he had to stop and to fast and pray in order to command the departure of demons. Further, when the 70 disciples returned, having obeyed his command (Matthew 10:7-8) to go preach and cast out demons, “then the seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’”
(Luke 10:17). See? Again no mention of anything other than that in His name the disciples had held sway over demons.
There were neither mumbo-jumbo, nor artifacts, nor incantations, nor wrestling applied by the disciples in their exorcism of demons, contrary to the dramatic portrayal most of us have seen at one time or another.
So, what about that “prayer and fasting”? In Luke 9:46, a parallel passage without the “prayer and fasting” quote, the disciples had been disputing as to which of them was the greatest. (Muhammad Ali was not a disciple.) This was an indication that their hearts were not right, and that their faith (Matthew 17:20) therefore was not strong. They were no more ready, at this point, to face-off against demons than the seven sons of Sceva (Acts 19:14), who in effect had their own heads handed to them by the demons in one individual. They presumed to use the name of Jesus without having a relationship and being in right standing with Him—just as the disciples did in this case.
Bottom line: don’t presume to use the name of Jesus (and don’t call yourself a Christian) unless you have a relationship with Him, and unless you are applying His commandments in your daily walk. Will we, like the apostles, fail from time to time, even daily? Yes. “What’ll I do? What’ll I do?” Simple: Repent. Ask Him for forgiveness, get into the Bible, and ask Him to give you the Holy Spirit to enable you to walk daily more and more as He walked.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever– the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:12-17 NKJV).