by Connie Crum
Several times a year our Pastor leads us to fast and pray. I can’t say that it is my favorite thing to do, but I so recognize the significance and need for it, and I give it my all. As children of God, we should be doing all that we can to know Him, draw closer too Him and to be obedient to His Word. There are so many verses that relate to fasting and prayer in the bible, but there is no place in the Word where Jesus commands us to fast, but we know that He expects us to because it comes with being a part of His Kingdom, and so we need to be obedient. In Matthew 6:16-18, He says “When we fast….”. This means that God has an expectation for us to fast. Fasting and Prayer helps us to focus on and enhance our relationship with our God. When we fast for something going on in our life, we are expressing to God that this need is specific, personal and requires special attention from God. We are letting God know that we need to hear from Him. What we are praying and fasting for is important because we are not just praying for it with our usual expectation from our Father. It’s not prayer business as usual – we are willing to sacrifice a part of ourselves to show God that we are serious about this need.
After a time of prayer and fasting I feel refreshed, (hungry of course) but I feel closer to Him.
When we are seriously fasting, we are bringing ourselves in alignment with God. We gain spiritual strength through fasting. Fasting helps us discern the will of God and it destroys strongholds! Fasting is so powerful that it breaks the power of our flesh and demons. But fasting is not easy. Let’s face it, the truth of the matter is, we love to eat. We love to spend time watching television and our jobs, family, time and thoughts soak up a lot of our energy. By denying ourselves of these things – the foods we love (especially the fattening and unnourishing foods), the pleasures of watching our favorite tv shows and other daily activities that take us away from God, these are the avenues that fasting uses to help us re-align our focus on God. Fasting draws us closer to God and helps us to break away from the desire to satisfy ourselves.
We pray for many things, but fasting places an intensity on our need. It tells God, we are serious about this. We could be praying for the salvation of a loved one, a financial need, our emotions, sexual issues, healing, an addiction to drugs or alcohol – even suicidal tendencies. The Bible gives us many reasons to fast. All of them deal with the things that go on in our daily lives.
Have you ever started a fast to pray for something specific and become discouraged? There have been times when I have been discouraged and doubtful as to whether my fast was accomplishing anything (other than making myself miserable). But we need to remember that we are human and when we are fasting the devil uses this opportunity to try to discourage us and make us grow weary because we are not seeing immediate results. We also need to remember, we are doing our part and God will honor it in His timing and in His own way. So don’t get discouraged if you haven’t experienced immediate results for what you are fasting and praying about.
Fasting and prayer has taught me many things. It has made me stronger in my faith and I have learned that sometimes we just have to wait on the Lord and keep fasting and praying, trusting and believing. At one time I had been fasting and praying for our daughter’s husband and my grandson to come to the Lord. I prayed and prayed. Year after year went by and I started to get weary, but our God is an on time God! Just when I thought it would never happen, it did. So see God may not do it in the time we want, but His timing is perfect. He absolutely hears our cries and he listens to us. He knows exactly what to do and when to do it. The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles (Psalms 34:17) John 5:13-14 says, “ This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” How encouraging is that? So don’t ever be discouraged! Know that God hears us and is working it out.
Fasting may hurt because our bodies are suffering from the withdrawals from lack of food, but fasting comes with benefits. Our bodies are the temple of the Lord and Fasting not only cleanses our body of toxins and bad eating habits, but it cleanses our soul. Fasting is a faith move. It gives us a new desire to come into a deeper praise. As we pray, we begin to think about all that the Lord has done for us, and even those we have prayed for and there are times when I just weep with gratitude because I am reminded of all the times He has met my needs and answered my prayers. Through fasting and prayer, we receive a greater sensitivity to God’s love and His love for us. God does speak to us in the midst of our troubles. Often through a combination of fasting and prayer, our minds become clearer and our hearts are more sensitive to God. We may not hear God’s literal voice, but His Spirit confirms a certain direction or answer for us. As the distractions fade, we can sense His leading in a new way. Sometimes while praying, God’s Spirit will remind us of a Scripture or a truth in His Word that we can directly apply to the situation we are praying for. After fasting and praying we may not see an immediate change or answer to what we are praying for, but in faith, thank God for whenever and however he will answer. Years may go by like with my son-in-law and grandson, but stay in faith and one day you will see God’s handiwork in response to your fasting and prayers.
God wants nothing more than a closer connection with us, and through fasting we can quench that new desire for more of Him in our lives. When you have finished your fast, you will find yourself renewed and full of energy. Your body is detoxed and you have a new desire, a new praise and a renewed sensitivity to God’s still, small voice. Look what you have gained! A new spiritual and physical satisfaction! Think about it – if fasting helps you to deny yourself, save your love ones, defeat your enemies, discern the will of God and destroy strongholds, why wouldn’t you want to fast? So when the Pastor calls for a time of fasting and prayer, get enthusiastic for what is about to happen in your life.
We fast and pray because we need more of God and less of us.
Therefore, I urge you, brother’s and sisters, in view of God’s Mercy to offer yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. – Roman’s 12:1