The Purpose of Prayer in Fasting

The Purpose of Prayer in Fasting

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The most important aspect of fasting, is Prayer. Without prayer, you cannot fast before God. Even the Widow’s fast and the John the Baptist Fast is completely worthless without prayer. A lot of people have no problem skipping meals or going entire days without food but they are completely lost when it comes to prayer. Conversely, many can pray for hours but have the hardest time skipping even one meal.

The bible makes the power of prayer abundantly clear. The power behind prayer is not some mythical force or might, it is very simply (if such a thing can be simple), the power of God. We have no power when it comes to prayer. Everything resides on God’s power alone.

Jesus specifically warned us not to be like the pagans, praying with vain repetitions because they think the more times they say it, the more they will be heard. Why? Because we have a God who is not deaf to hear. Repetition does not make the prayer more powerful or emphatic. [1]

So then, if God is the power behind prayer and man contributes no power of his own, then what’s the use of praying? Prayer is transformative. Our natural inclination is to serve ourselves, and the last thing our “self” wants to do is spend time with God. If you try to make time with God a priority, a thousand things will come up in your own mind to distract you from it. But if we will deny ourselves and pray, seek God with focus and determination, then he will put his power at work in us to change us from the inside out.

There are two ways we can seek God: in his word, and in prayer. There is no other way to connect with him. If we seek him in His word, his Spirit will lead us to prayer. If we seek him in prayer, his Spirit will also lead us to his word. For the Christian, both the Word and Prayer are vital for spiritual life. Without either, we cannot progress, we will stagnate or we will die. If we are to gain victory over besetting sins, we pray. If we need breakthrough in a situation, we pray. If we need wisdom or guidance, we turn to the Word in prayer. If we are to live in obedience to the Lord’s commands, we need to seek his Word to find out what he requires.

When we seek out the Lord, we are denying our flesh and submitting to God[2]. In turn, the Spirit of God transforms and renews our mind so that we can test and discern God’s will[3]. When we combine prayer with fasting, the Spirit is able to do more with us and work more through us because we are putting all of our dependence on him. Before The Temptation, Jesus spent forty days and nights fasting before God in prayer so that he could withstand the temptations the Devil would bring before him. This is why he says that we must watch and pray to not enter into temptation. He knows full well the weakness of the flesh even when the spirit is willing to submit to God[4]. One way to watch and prepare and keep ourselves on guard is to regularly fast.

We desire spiritual victory in a circumstance or situation but we don’t get it. Why? Because we do not ask with the right motives[5]. But sometimes we ask but we do not receive because we need to fast and pray to see breakthrough[6]. The disciples experienced this when they tried to cast a demon out of a boy but were unable to do so. They had seen Jesus cast out demons and had even cast out several themselves [7] but were unable to do it this time simply because they were not disciplined in fasting and prayer. Daniel as well, asked for the deliverance of Jerusalem based on the promise of God but had to fast and before he saw anything happen[8].

When we pray and fast, we will quite literally see God moving in us and around us. The presence of God will become so much more real and precious. We will develop a hunger and thirst for God and the things of God. While fasting produces physical hunger, it also produces a spiritual hunger: “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.”[9] Our souls will begin to thirst for God and we will want nothing more than to go and spend time with him.[10]

When we seek God through fasting, our relationship with him will become so much deeper. Moses was so close to God that he got to see him with his very eyes. Of Abraham, God said that he would not hide his plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah from him[11]. As we grow in him, he will convict us of sin but he will assure us of his love and forgiveness[12]. As we seek more of him, he will direct our desires the things that truly matter [13] so that we can do his will[14].

It is through prayer in fasting that we can humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God[15] before the throne of grace. When we do so, the Holy Spirit will move us to brokenness and change. This will lead to a personal revival through the power of the Spirit at work in us. This revival will flow out of us and affect the people and circumstances around us- not of our own power of course, but because we will have emptied ourselves and the Spirit will fill us to overflowing so that he pours out of us and into every other arena of our lives.

If we will make prayer and fasting a disciple in our lives and practice it regularly, we will be changed and renewed and our world around us will be transformed because of the power of God at work in us.

[1] Mat 6:7

[2] Rom 6:16

[3] Rom 12:2

[4] Mat 26:41

[5] James 4:2-3

[6] Mat 17:21

[7] Luke 10:17

[8] Daniel 9:2-3,20-23

[9] Mat 5:6

[10] Psa 42:2

[11] Gen 18:17

[12] Heb 10:18-22

[13] Col 3:1-2

[14] Eph 6:6

[15] 1 Pe 5:6

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