Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Prayer and Fasting

Why should we fast, what does the Bible say? The Bible teaches that there are times for feasting and banqueting. But, there are also specified times for fasting. Biblical reasons for fasting:

  1. National Peril - Joel 1,2; esp. 2:12, "Turn to me with all you heart, ... with fasting... "
  2. Mourning-Davidfastsforadyingson, II Samuel 12:16-17; also 1:11-12,  3:31-35.
  3. Protection - Esther calls a fast, Esther 4:16; also Ezra 8:21-23 before their journey.
  4. Revelation - Daniel prayed and fasted that he might know God's will, Daniel 9:3.
  5. Power in our personal life - Jesus, led by the Spirit, fasted and prayed, Luke 4:1-2.

Application: Certainly we are in a time of national peril and should be mourning for the moral condition of our country. With fasting and prayer we plead for God's protection and a fresh revelation of our holy God. As Christians, more than anything, we need the power of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives on a daily basis. What is the purpose of fasting? The Scripture records fasting with prayer, but exactly why should we practice fasting?The Christian practice of fasting tells God, and us, that we are serious.

  1. History teaches us the early church fasted twice a week, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  2. John Knox fasted and prayed, "Give me Scotland or I will perish."
  3. Our forefathers sought God in fasting and prayer; Founders and pioneer Methodists.

Application: Queen Esther told her people that the situation they faced was desperate. Their lives were on the line! Fasting "breaks up the hardened soil of our hearts." We have all become hardened and grown cold towards the Lord. We must begin to humble ourselves and to repent of our sin. Our sincere confession tells God we are serious about a change. The Lord has promised to hear our cry. "He will come and shower righteousness" down upon us, Hosea 10:12. Also, see Psalm 51 for David's contrite heart. The fasting process. Essentially we are fasting and praying for God to stop the flood of evil and to invoke His goodness into our situation.

Various methods of fasting:

  1. Total fasting; no food or liquid, Jesus miraculously did this for 40 days by the Spirit.
  2. Juice fasting; a liquid diet of fruit, vegetable, and other healthful juices is sustainable.
  3. Daniel fasting; only fruits and vegetables, no meat or delicacies.
  4. Reduced number of daily meals; as the early Church broke their fast in the afternoon.

Application: "The biggest thing that we've got to remember in a fast is that it is to God that we are fasting. We can't continue all our worldly entertainment and give no thought to God. Fasting j isn't just starving ourselves. There's got to be fasting and prayer. We should be focusing upon ; God and spend extended periods of time crying out to Him. God will hear us when we are saying, 'Cleanse us, we're sorry, and we mean business with you.' True fasting is taking meal time '3, and using it for time on our knees in serious prayer. "

IV. The goal of combining fasting with prayer. Whether our fasting period is a meal or 40 days, our declared intention is to be restored to close communion with God.

Personal revival, personal holiness, and a personal revelation of God:

  1. A prideful heart and quarreling attitude can emerge from wrong fasting! Isa. 58:3-5.
  2. "True fasting includes forgiveness of others and love for God and your fellow man." Isa. 58:6-8 is God's definition of a successful fast. The essence is a changed heart.
  3. Confess your sin, repent before God, and ask Him for your personal revival.
  4. "Put yourself ffrst" in asking the Lord to purify your own heart and reveal Himself. "My ears have heard of you but now my eyes have seen you, I repent." Job 42:5-6.
  5. Pray to God for restored vision, Prov. 29:18. We all need a fresh revelation of God. National revival, national holiness, and a restored national revelation of God: 1) Corporate expressions of spiritual renewal will all flow out from our personal revival; 2) The Ten Commandments are still valid; national holiness is essential, Prov. 14:34. God expects "clean hands and a pure heart" in His presence, Psalm 24:3-4.

Application: We are praying, "Cleanse me, wash me, take away the pride, break me, and humble me." Like David, "I humbled myself with fasting," Ps. 35:13. Out of a personal fresh revelation of God, we begin to pray for national revival. "This country has had a great religious heritage, and we need to see a revival of it. I believe that God is going to hear and God is going to answer His people when they get sincere in this kind of prayer combined with fasting." We want this nation to come back to God. The Lord will deal with racism, hatred, and bitterness.

V. Prayer with fasting will affect world evangelism. In the New Testament Church there was prayer and fasting as the Holy Spirit turned them toward world outreach.

The Church was "worshipping the Lord and fasting, and praying," Acts 13:2-3.

  1. The Holy Spirit set them apart to begin the "harvesting process" of evangelism.
  2. This setting was the beginning of the greatest missionary thrust of history.
  3. Our prayer and fasting goes beyond the "defensive," we are also in the "attack mode."
  4. Just as God's Spirit revealed to them what to do, we are asking God to lead us forth.
  5. "God, pull down the stronghold of Satan, send an anointing, give us billions of souls!"

Three warnings on our prayer and fasting emphasis:

  1. Pride; abstaining doesn't make us special to God or anyone else. See Matt. 6:1-4. We are enlisting 2 rnillion people, but "fast unto the Lord." Let this be a time of humility. "It's fasting, humiliation, and prayer; not fasting, pride, and prayer."
  2. Watch you health; don't jeopardize you health as a result of fasting. Use wisdom. There are various lengths and methods of fasting; be responsible. Juice fasting is a good option. "Let this be a time of prayer."
  3. Activities; we can continue normal working schedules, but we should have a fast on some of our pleasures and amusements (TV, movies, etc.). "This should be a time when we get serious with God. We're going to see a rnighty revival in this nation and around the world."
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