Fasting and prayer is one of the most powerful spiritual combinations on earth. True fasting brings humility and alignment with God. It breaks the power of flesh and demons. It kills unbelief and brings answers to prayer when nothing else works.
It has been well said that prayer is not preparation for the battle – prayer IS the battle. And of all the things we can do to enhance the power and focus of prayer, fasting is doubtless the most potent.
This is where the power is at, because fasting puts us in harmony with an All Powerful God who demands humility from those who wish to be close to Him. Fasting humbles the flesh. When it is done for that purpose, it pleases the Spirit of God.
You can go a certain distance in God, and experience many things, without fasting much, but the highest, richest and most powerful blessings always go to those who together with other disciplines, fast much unto God. The most significant Biblical characters, with the possible exception of Abraham, were all men of fasting and prayer. Jesus, the Son of God, was a man of fasting and prayer (Matthew 4:2). So was the apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 11:27). Moses fasted 80 days. Elijah fasted 40 days. The early church fasted before starting any major work. The greatest spiritual leaders of the 20th century who are making an impact are all men of fasting of prayer to my knowledge. Anyone who started a significant spiritual movement in Christianity was, to the best of my knowledge – Luther, Wesley, Finney, Booth were all men of fasting. In our day, Cho, Bonnke, Osborn, Annacondia are all men of much fasting. If done right, fasting counts a lot with God.
Fasting is not magic, nor does it twist the arm of God. God wants to do many amazing things, but He looks for those willing to urgently make the corrections needed to come into line with him. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Successful fasting is also the fastest way to learn patience. It takes patience and endurance to fast for more than a day. Many of God’s tests come quicker to us when we fast, and we have a better opportunity to pass them. If we want to go far with God we would have to face these tests anyway, but much later, and in a more time consuming and difficult way. We need to “bite the bullet” and embrace the correction God wants to apply to our souls.
Fasting gives you God’s focus for your life. It is a major key to hearing God’s voice (the other is true worship – the two are related). We need focus from God more than anything. The world we live in is working overtime to distract us, to entice us, to win our hearts and minds, our focus, and to determine our vision. Fasting cuts out the world so we can tune into God. If we are obedient to God fasting will make us catalysts for revival and awakening.
Examples of Fasting and Prayer and the Purpose God Had in It
Ezra the priest fasted for God’s protection while carrying valuable things for God’s temple. We too can fast for God’s protection. (Ezra 8:21-23)
Daniel the prophet fasted for the fulfilment of God’s promises, and received mighty revelations from God. (Daniel 10:3).
Jesus fasted to begin his public ministry, and have the power of God and the anointing. (Luke 4:14).
Elijah needed to fast 40 days before he heard God’s voice again. (1 Kings 19:8)
Moses fasted to receive the Ten Commandments and the Law of God, and to see God’s glory and goodness.
The elders, prophets and teachers in Antioch fasted and ministered to God, which resulted in the launching of Paul and Barnabas’ apostolic ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 13:2,3). Likewise we should fast and pray before getting involved in full time ministry and mission work.
Jesus says to us in Matthew 6:16, “When you fast…” not “If you fast”. A true disciple of the Lord will fast at times.
God made it clear through the prophet Joel that the last days outpouring of the Spirit will be in proportion to our fasting and crying out to God in humility, hunger and repentance. (Joel 1:5; Joel 2:12).
Even wicked King Ahab’s fast moved God so that he did not bring full judgment down on him in his own lifetime (1 Kings 21:27).
The Pain of Fasting
Fasting is not easy. There are degrees of fasting, of course. The pain of fasting is twofold. The physical pain is due to the detoxification of our bodies. All the accumulate poison and garbage starts to come into our blood and we feel dreadful. This can be alleviated by fasting on juice. With juice fasting you have some control on the speed of your body’s detoxification.
The soulish pain is due to the conflict in the spiritual realm between your flesh and the Spirit of God. This goes behind the natural desire to eat. There is soulish pain because:
1. Most times our bodies are demanding food 3 times a day and complain that food is needed when they are denied. A little training in fasting soon clears up this misconception.
2. You cannot use food as an emotional crutch to give pleasure, drowsiness, satisfaction and escape. Instead you must depend on God for comfort.
3. You are brought face to face with other painful issues in your life. God reveals the need for you to forgive others, to repent of your wicked ways, to stop running from Him and start trusting Him. There is thus also a spiritual and soulish detoxification which happens when we fast.
4. You will be attacked by demonic forces seeking to induce you to give up the fast. Jesus experienced this in the wilderness with Satan (Matthew 4:1-10). Great spiritual victories are won or lost on our willingness to endure spiritual hardship and temptation out of love and faithfulness to the Lord.
5. You will experience weakness at times, and we like to feel strong and in control. Fasting teaches us dependence upon God.
A number of people ask what you may or may not have during fasting. This depends of what God called you to do. It is normal to drink water during fasting. Never go without water more than three days. An easier fast which is more suitable for those who have other responsibilities which require energy is to drink only juice and water. Another way to fast is just to eat one meal per day for a number of days. All these fasts can have value. God will lead you.
You can get more information on the technical aspects of fasting at www.fasting.ws. Suffice for now to say that you SHOULD drink water and plenty of it when you fast. If you are working and unable to fast fully on water, you can drink juice or even have one meal a day, and these partial fasts do also have some value in subduing the flesh and bringing you closer to God.
I want to make more information available on this subject as time goes on. Please join me in seeking God and we can pray for each other that God will strengthen us in our resolve to let Him teach us to wait upon Him with fasting, prayer and the Word.