Fasting and prayer is one of those parts of the Christian faith that everyone knows is important but few of us actually practise. Here are some frequently asked questions about fasting and prayer.
What is fasting and prayer?
Fasting and prayer is a spiritual discipline that is taught in the Bible. Jesus expected His followers to fast and pray, and said that God rewards those who do. Fasting means to voluntarily reduce or eliminate our intake of food for a specific time and purpose.
In the Bible, fasting is always connected with prayer. “And there by the Ahava Canal, I gave orders for all of us to fast and humble ourselves before our God. We prayed that He would give us a safe journey and protect us, our children, and our goods as we traveled” (Ezra 8:21 NLT).
Why should we fast?
There are many good reasons, even health benefits, for fasting.
The “Fourteen Days of Fasting and Prayer,” March 1-14, 2013, at Kingsview Church is an important part of the LifePlan Path. We are fasting and praying together to help us seek God’s direction for our church.
Fasting demonstrates the depth of our desire when praying for something. It shows we are serious enough about our prayer request to pay a personal price. God honors deep desire and praying in faith. “Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.” Joel 1:14 (NIV)
What does fasting do?
Fasting releases God’s supernatural power.
It is an instrument we can use when there is opposition to God’s will. Satan would like nothing better than to cause division, discouragement, defeat, depression, and doubt among us. United prayer and fasting has always been used by God to deal a decisive blow to the enemy! “So we fasted and prayed about these concerns. And he listened.” Ezra 8:23 (Msg) But ultimately, fasting and prayer changes us.
When should we fast and pray?
In the Bible, God’s people often fasted just before a major victory, miracle, or answer to prayer. It prepared them for a blessing! For example:
Moses fasted just before he received the Ten Commandments. “Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant – the Ten Commandments.” Exodus 34:28 (NIV)
Daniel fasted in order to receive guidance from God. “While I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, ‘Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding.” Daniel 9:21-22 (NIV)
Jesus fasted during His victory over temptation. “For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry.” Luke 4:2 (Msg)
How do I fast?
There are many types of fasts, and the option you choose depends upon your health, the desired length of your fast, and your preference:
Water Fast – abstain from all food & juices
Partial Fast – eliminate certain foods or specific meals
Juice Fast – drink only fruit or vegetable juices at meal times
The prospect of going without food for an extended period of time may be of concern to some. But there are ways to ensure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs, so you can remain safe and healthy during your fast.
Remember: Fasting is not “earning” an answer to prayer. God wants to answer our prayers and He answers out of grace. Fasting simply prepares us for God’s answer. However, fast only if your health allows it. If you are only able to do a partial fast – do it in faith and God will honor your intentions.
By Pastor Howard Olver, with help from Dr. Bill Bright and Pastor Rick Warren