What is fasting and prayer?
Fasting means putting God first. Fasting means persistence in prayer. Fasting is the deliberate clearing of the way for prayer (laying aside all hindrances).
Fasting is to set myself to seek God in prayer.
Fasting is a proper expression of mourning.
Scripture does not command Christians to fast. God does not require or demand it of Christians. At the same time, the Bible presents fasting as something that is good, profitable, and beneficial. In the book of Acts, we see that believers fasted before making important decisions.
Acts 14:23 “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”
Fasting and prayer are often linked together.
Luke 2:36-37 “And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.”
Luke 5:33 “And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink?”
Though abstaining from food is part of fasting, the actual purpose of fasting should be to take our eyes off the things of this world to focus completely on God. Fasting is a way to prove to God that we are serious about our relationship with Him. Fasting helps us gain a new perspective and a renewed reliance upon God.
Fasting needs to be limited to a set time since extended periods of time without food can be harmful to the body. The intention of fasting is not to punish ourselves, but to redirect our attention toward God. Fasting is also not a “dieting method”. Biblical fasting is not to lose weight, but to gain deeper fellowship with God.
It is also not recommended for those who cannot abstain from food to fast. God understands that a diabetic cannot fast and would never punish someone for their complete inability to perform a task. Just like the quadriplegic who cannot speak would not be punished for Sunday keeping if their family rolls them into a church on Sunday. If the person knows the truth about God’s 7th day Sabbath, believes it in their heart, but is physically unable to keep it, God will not punish him.
By taking our eyes off the things of this world (as in fasting), we can more successfully turn our attention to Christ. God is not changed by our fasting, we are, and we need to remember that though prayers are more readily answered during times of fasting, it is not a way to get God to do what we want. Moreover, fasting is not a way to appear more spiritual or holy than others. Fasting is to be done in a spirit of humility and with a joyful attitude.
Matthew 6:16-18 “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”
What do we get by fasting and prayer?
Esther 4:3 “And in every province, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.”
Fasting and prayer brings us help in time of trouble.
Joshua 7:6-11 “And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name? And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.”
Fasting and prayer shows us what is wrong, what displeases God.
Jonah 3:5 “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.”
Fasting and prayer can show a genuinely repentant heart.
Acts 13:1-3 “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”
Heavenly wisdom is received through fasting and prayer. And the power of the Holy Spirit comes in answer to fasting and prayer.
Mark 9:28-29 “And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”
Victory over Satan and his demons comes through fasting and prayer.
Ezra 8:21-23 “Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us.
Answers and protection from God come from fasting and prayer.
Psalm 35:11-14 “False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not. They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul. But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom. I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.”
Fasting and prayer often leads to victory over sin. Also, intercession for others is answered when we fast and pray.
Revival brought by fasting and prayer.
Jonah 3:4-10 “And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
Fasting and prayer brought revival to Nineveh.
Esther 4:13-17 “Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.”
Fasting and prayer brought preservation and revival to Esther’s nation.
A few points to consider about fasting.
- Fasting for more than 24 hours in dangerous for most people. Fasting for longer than a day needs to be questioned and prayed about before actually doing it. One day is sufficient when it comes to fasting.
- If the motivation for fasting has to do with weight loss, then the outcome will be spiritual bankruptcy. Fasting should always be about drawing closer to God. Period.
- Fasting should always be accompanied with prayer since fasting is a spiritual thing, not a physical thing.
- If there are health risks associated with fasting (such as Diabetes) then fasting can end up being deadly. Use caution and Heaven-sent discernment before choosing any direction to walk.
- Keep in mind that the Lord reads our hearts and knows if you desire to fast for Him but are unable to do so because of health reasons. He will not punish you or hold back blessings from you if you are simply unable to fast. For example: the man who has no legs and cannot get on his knees in prayer will not be punished by God for failing to kneel. God knows that the man loves Him and is kneeling in his heart.
This page was copied and pasted by permission from remnantofgod.org