Is prayers and fasting the condition for asking, receiving and hearing from God? No brethren, just like good works is not the condition for going to heaven. The bible is clear, the only condition for going to heaven is to be born again as Jesus says in John 3:3. So too, the condition for asking and receiving from God is to pray in the name of Jesus so that the God can be glorified If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. John:14:14. But there are certain things, certain levels of spiritual involvement, certain battles and breakthroughs that come only when we fast. And that is where the need of prayer and fasting comes in. For this reflection today, I bring to you an excerpted from “The Power of Prayer and Fasting” by Marilyn Hickey. Read on…
“Fasting and prayer? Didn’t those go out of style decades ago?” The woman who said this to me was a godly woman, a woman who had been in the church all her life, and a woman intent on obeying the Lord. She knew her Bible. She was very serious in her questions.
Yet for some reason, she had concluded — at least subconsciously — that fasting and prayer were no longer intended for believers in today’s world.
The truth is, fasting and prayer are for today! In fact, now more than ever!
The combination of fasting and praying is not a fad or a novelty approach to spiritual discipline. Fasting and praying are not part of a human-engineered method or plan. They are not the means to manipulate a situation or to create a circumstance. Fasting and praying are Bible-based disciplines that are appropriate for all believers of all ages throughout all centuries in all parts of the world.
Through the years, I have learned that many people in the church have never been taught about fasting and prayer, and many have therefore never fasted and prayed. As a result, they don’t know why fasting and praying are important, what the Bible teaches about fasting, or how to fast. To many, fasting sounds like drudgery — or a form of religious works. To others, fasting sounds extremely difficult. People tend to stand in awe at reports of those who have fasted for several weeks. When I hear about such fasts, I no doubt think what they think: If I fasted that long, I’d die! I couldn’t possibly do that!
Let me assure you at the outset of this book that I am not advocating prolonged periods of fasting for every believer. A fast can be as short as one meal. Neither do I advocate fasting and praying for the mere sake of saying with self-righteousness, “I have fasted and prayed about this.” I do not advocate fasting so that the hungry in a foreign nation might have the food you would have eaten that day — which is highly unlikely. I do not advocate fasting apart from prayer.
KEY REASONS TO FAST AND PRAY
I do, however, encourage every believer to fast and pray for two very important reasons:
1. The Scriptures Teach Us to Fast and Pray
The Bible has a great deal to say about both fasting and praying, including commands to fast and pray. The Bible also gives us examples of people who fasted and prayed, using different types of fasts for different reasons, all of which are very positive results. Jesus fasted and prayed. Jesus’ disciples fasted and prayed after the Resurrection. Many of the Old Testament heroes and heroines of the faith fasted and prayed. The followers of John the Baptist fasted and prayed.Many people in the early church fasted and prayed. What the Scriptures have taught us directly and by the examples of the saints is surely something we are to do.
2. Fasting and Prayer Put You into the Best Possible Position for a Breakthrough
That breakthrough might be in the realm of the spirit. It may be in the realm of your emotions or personal habits. It may be in the realm of a very practical area of life, such as a relationship or finances. What I have seen repeatedly through the years not only in the Scriptures but in countless personal stories that others have told me — is that periods of fasting and prayer produce great spiritual results, many of which fall into the realm of a breakthrough. What wasn’t a reality . . . suddenly was. What hadn’t worked . . . suddenly did. The unwanted situation or object that was there . . . suddenly wasn’t there. The relationship that was unloving . . . suddenly was loving. The job that hadn’t materialized . . . suddenly did.
The very simple and direct conclusions I draw are these: First, if the Bible teaches us to do something, I want to do it. I want to obey the Lord in every way that He commands me to obey Him. And second, if fasting and praying are means to a breakthrough that God has for me, I want to undertake those disciplines so I might experience that breakthrough!
Every person I know needs a breakthrough in some area of his or her life. I am no exception. I need breakthroughs all the time — it may be a breakthrough in understanding a situation, a breakthrough answer to a problem, a breakthrough idea, a breakthrough insight, a breakthrough in financial or material provision, a breakthrough in health. If you have any need in your life, you need a breakthrough from God to meet that need! Fasting and prayer break the yoke of bondage and bring about a release of God’s presence, power, and provision.
I certainly have seen this borne out in the course of my ministry.
When I was forty-two years old, I went to an Assemblies of God camp in Alexandria,Minnesota, to speak for a women‘s retreat. The first two days of the retreat went very well, and then I had one day in between the first retreat and the second — so many women had registered, the camp could not host all of the women at the same time. I took that day in this lovely place in Minnesota to enjoy the lakes and trees — it was a gorgeous environment — and to fast and pray about God’s will for my life. I felt as if I was doing a lot of good things, but I also thought I might miss God’s best for me. I longed to hear from God and to receive a revelation from Him about my life.
In that day of fasting and prayer, God spoke to me words from Isaiah 11:9 : “I have called you to cover the earth with the Word.” Through the years, the Lord has confirmed that word to me a number of times, but this was my initial call to take the message of God’s Word to the whole earth, and it came as the result of one day of prayer and fasting.
The breakthrough that you may need in your life is a sense of God’s direction — not only for today and tomorrow, but for the broad scope of your life. If you long to know God’s purpose for you on this earth, I strongly encourage you to seek God in prayer and fasting.
THE PRINCIPLES OF BIBLICAL FASTING
There are two main overriding principles related to prayer and fasting in the Bible.
First, biblical fasting is going without food. The noun translated “fast” or “a fasting” is
tsom in the Hebrew and nesteia in the Greek language. It means the voluntary abstinence from food. The literal Hebrew translation would be “not to eat.” The literal Greek means “no food.”
I know people who say they go without television or movies, and they call these “fasting” times. I’m not opposed to that definition of fasting-fasting does imply that we are giving up one thing in to replace it with something else, and in the Bible sense, specifically to replace it with prayer. But in the main, I believe fasting has to do with our abstaining from food. Second, biblical fasting is linked with serious seasons of prayer. The more seriously we approach prayer and fasting, the more serious the results we will experience.
I sometimes hear people say, “I’m giving up chocolate” and they regard this as a type of fasting. I think this is a rather frivolous approach. The first and foremost purpose of a biblical or spiritual fast is to get a breakthrough on a particular matter that one lifts up to the Lord in prayer. A spiritual fast involves our hearts and the way in which we relate to and trust God. It relates to discerning and receiving strength to follow through on what God might reveal to us about circumstances in our lives or a direction we are to take.
I am not against people fasting in order to lose weight. Many people fast to lose weight or maintain their weight.What I am opposed to is making the losing of weight your primary goal in a season of spiritual fasting and prayer. To have weight loss as a goal makes your fasting a diet plan, not a time of genuine fasting and prayer. If losing weight is your purpose in fasting, you will be missing out on the full reason for fasting, and you likely will be concerned only with what you don’t eat rather than with what you are led to pray.
Now there’s certainly an issue of food that is associated with many seasons of prayer and fasting, and let me quickly add this: control of eating is a valid reason to fast. The purpose is not the number of pounds you might lose during a fast, but rather, trusting God to help you regain mastery over food during a fast. Jesus said, “The spirit is . . . willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41 ). Fasting is a means of bringing the flesh into submission to the Lord so He can strengthen us in our mastery over our own selves. Fasting in the flesh makes us stronger to stand against the temptations of the flesh. Those temptations very often deal with food.
Abstaining from food is often God’s way of showing that His desire for us is that we regain mastery over all things associated with our flesh in order to subdue our flesh and elevate our emphasis on spiritual matters. God’s promise is to help us as we overcome the flesh and put all carnal temptations into subjection.
This festive season is a period when many churches. Do well to take part in one or the other, bearing in mind what you want God to do for you. It may be just what you need to get that breakthrough. Remain blessed
Brother Cham Formoukom