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Fasting and Prayer: a deeper connection

January 13, 2010

“But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; and my prayer would return to my own heart.” Psalm 35:13

Joel 2:12 “. . . turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.”

I grew up in a household that was not very religious at all. We went to church occasionally; that is, we went to church on Christmas and Easter. As a child, I heard the term fasting during Bible studies and sometimes as a teenager when I became a little more interested in spirituality as I would try to read the Bible. As an adult, and a new Christian, I became very aware of the term fasting, but I was unclear as to how it was useful in this modern day and what all it entailed.

Last year, G-d began calling me in a very strong and powerful way. He won me over as I surrendered in December 2008. I had been listening to a talk show by a man named Matt Friedeman. He is a Methodist pastor, a professor, and daily radio personality. He talked about prayer and fasting and invited his listeners to join him in this spiritual exercise every Wednesday and Friday, wherein he would engage in a 24 hour fast. As I listened, I became more interested in this invitation. He explained briefly what it entailed and told his listeners that this practice is a means to develop a deeper prayer life and connection with the Holy Spirit.

I have begun fasting with Matt Friedeman and all those listeners who were inspired by this unique invitation. My experience has been life altering. I have failed a couple of times because I hadn’t fully committed my spirit and heart to that day’s fast. Other times I have failed because I allowed the pressures of my daily tasks and routines to distract me in such a way as to rob me of focus and strength. Most of the time, I make it and my fasting has even inspired my husband to join me. He is a Jew who has come to Christ in this past year.

Fasting is the act of humbling ourselves before G-d so that we can enter into a deeper prayer life and a greater capacity to discern the guidance and love of the Holy Spirit within us. The regular practice of fasting enhances the power and focus of prayer. I heard one woman say that fasting is a way that we “pray with our bodies”. In the following paragraphs I will attempt to outline the steps to beginning a fast.

First: state the objective of your fast. Are you fasting for guidance, for healing of yourself or another, for a solution to a problem? Decide why you are going to fast. You can write this in a journal or just state it in your head. I prefer a journal so there is an historical account of fasting objectives to revisit later. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your objective and to clarify why you feel called to fast.

Second: commit to the length of your fast. Will it be 24 hours, 3 days, a week? If you are a beginner, start with 24 hours or less. I have been on a fasting schedule for about 3 months and I still struggle at times with the 24 hour fast. Additionally, what type of fast will you commit to? Will you ingest only water or will you allow yourself juice as well? How much time are you going to commit during this fast to devotion and prayer? Decide these things and add them to your objective.

Third: prepare yourself and your soul. Ask G-d to reveal your sins to you and examine your conscious honestly. Prayerfully confess your sins with heartfelt honesty. Seek forgiveness and forgive those who have hurt you. Ask G-d to fill you with the Holy Spirit.

Fourth: set time aside for the Lord. An example of this would be to commit to prayer and meditation from 6am to 7am in the morning, from 12pm to 1pm in the afternoon, and from 7pm to 8pm in the evening during the 24 hour fast. This is just an example. The actual schedule should be determined by the participant and the Holy Spirit.

Fifth: expect results. A regular schedule of prayer and fasting in this way will change the way you view prayer and the concrete results it can bring. Don’t be discouraged if you fail at first. It is a difficult endeavor for the beginner, but the reward is amazing.

I will close with a few of the many instances where fasting is found in the New Testament.

Acts 9:9, 11 “And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.”

Acts 10:30 “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing.”

I Corinthians 7:5 “. . . that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer . . .”

Luke 2:36-37 “And there was one Anna, a prophetess … a widow of about 44 years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.”

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2010 10:26 pm

    Awesome post! Very well explained and with a motivator for even the inexperienced! What a wonderful instrument the Lord left us with as a discipline and an encouragement to seek his face!

  2. pastorgadget permalink
    January 28, 2010 2:13 am

    Thank you for this message. It is timely and useful for anyone who is looking into fasting. I would also recommend Jentezen Franklin’s book “Fasting.” Franklin does a wonderful job of focusing in depth on the why and how of fasting. I agree, too, that a journal gets things down in black-and-white so there are no excuses and some historical record of how God is speaking in one’s life.

    I am surprised that you left out one piece of Scripture that Franklin really focuses on from teh Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 6:1-18. Verses 1 to 4 pertain to “when you give,” verses 5 through 15 focus on “when you pray,” and verses 16 to 18 are about “when you fast.” Notice that Jesus says WHEN, not IF. And yet so many Christians think prayer and charity are enough. But they really don’t know what they’re missing until they fast!

    Thanks for the article. I’ll be visiting again later. Peace always.

    • January 28, 2010 2:37 pm

      Hi Pastor! Thanks for stopping by. Regarding the missing, yet relevant and important scripture — you are right. I should have included that. Being a new Christian, I am just learning my Bible. I had heard that scripture on the Matt Friedeman show, but it slipped my mind when writing this piece!

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