Is there something you’ve been praying about – something dear to you – that God has not answered? Maybe it’s more than one thing. Maybe it’s been so long since God answered a prayer that you wonder if He’s still there or if you’ve done something wrong or imagined the entire relationship. I can relate. For years I just went along with the whole Christian thing – out of routine and religious fear – with a lot of confusion. Then there comes the question, Why do we fast and pray?
Why Do We Fast and Pray? Spiritual Breakthrough!
I know many of you are praying over big things. Big! You want a Spiritual breakthrough and fasting and prayer are the way to get there.
- Hard things in your marriage
- Challenges in your parenting
- Changes in your job
- Relationships that are shifting
- Things in the life of your church that you can’t reconcile.
Big Things. Some of those big things are hurtful things… Things you’ve all but given up hope that God will change. Things that require forgiveness.
When we step into a place where we need a Spiritual breakthrough, the question is not, “Why do we fast and pray?” but “How do we fast and pray?”!
Forgiveness Has Led To Freedom
We are thinking about prayer and fasting, but before we get there we have to talk about forgiveness. Choosing to not forgive is one of the biggest roadblocks to a Spiritual breakthrough. I have the t-shirt to prove this one.
The things I’ve had to forgive are too numerous to count at this point. Big things (abuse and neglect) and small things (slights from friends, harsh words that cut too deep). Life has been a crazy ride where I was doing all the right things: praying, Bible study, church attendance, small group participation, tithing, serving and so much more. All the while, every time I turn around God is refining me through trials.
Can I just tell you in all honesty that with each trial I plunged deeper into bitterness? It wasn’t until I learned to forgive that God began to set me free. In that freedom, I’ve seen so many answers to prayer. Not that the trials have stopped, but there is joy in God’s presence no regardless of the hardship!
I’d love to share that story with you.
This year we’ve been going deeper in our Faith through Biblical Discipleship.
There are times when – even with prayer and Bible study – I am still struggling.
Why do we fast when we pray? Could it be that prayer and Bible study are not always enough to find the answers I need or get the help I need in my walk with Jesus?
What do we do in those times, the hard times when it feels like we’ve tried everything else?
In the Bible, when a situation seemed to need more than prayer, the people observed a fast (or a time of fasting).
Does that seem a bit radical and outdated? Why is fasting important to God? Did you know that Jesus spoke about it? Let’s look together.
“Then the disciples of John *came to Him, asking, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Matthew 9:14-15
Jesus said we will Fast. When we need Him – and that a fast will be necessary.
5 Reasons God Calls His People to a Fast – With Hope!
Why do we fast and pray? Yes, Jesus said His disciples would fast, but that isn’t always enough of a reason for me to do things. Can you relate?
It took a lot of hard situations pilling up to bring me to my knees. Even at my knees it still took godly mentors to convince me to fast. Then it took years of practicing fasting to learn how to effectively fast and pray for Spiritual Breakthrough.
There are many other reasons to fast but more specifically, they are reasons God calls us – His people – to fast with hope for breakthrough, healing, and growth!
Related Post: 27 Books on Prayer and Fasting
Fast For Clarity
The first reason many people begin to fast is for clarity about something. We need an answer or direction from God. Prayer doesn’t always bring the answers we need. Fasting is a way to go deeper while seeking God.
Where do we see people fasting for clarity in the Bible?
- Choosing leaders
- The New Testament church spent time fasting and praying when making decisions about leadership (Acts 14:23).
- Seeking understanding
- In the Old Testament, the Prophet Daniel sought God’s wisdom and understanding about a prophecy in Daniel 9:3 and then in Daniel 10:3. Daniel was distressed about the answer and spent more time Fasting.
- Needing a word from God
- Mosses spent 40 days fasting while with the Lord as he received the 10 commandments Exodus 34:28. (that is extreme fasting but he had an extreme reason)
It makes my heart happy to know that the heroes of my faith were not always happy with God’s answer. Well, not that they weren’t happy, but that they poured their hearts out to God and He answered.
When looking at how to fast according to the Bible we see imperfection and grace! God is not above giving clarity or helping us understand and change where necessary. The reward of fasting in the Bible was always some form of clarity.
Am I the only one that needs to change my heart to accept God’s will at times? Can I get an Amen?!?!
Related Post: 40 Day Fasting and Prayer Guide – Be Still and Know God
Fast Over Grief or Brokenness
When there is something hard or painful or sorrowful that that is too big for you to face or fix alone, a time of fasting can be powerful. Grief or brokenness over a serious problem often prompted people in the Bible to fast. The power of fasting and prayer to heal brokenness is evident in Scripture!
- He was distressed over the wall in Jerusalem being in disrepair. Nehemiah 1: 1-4
This piece gives me more hope because the people of Israel were in a season of blessing. They had just been released from captivity! Hope should have oozed out of them, but it was hard. Sometimes hard times come in the midst of blessings.
Nehemiah humbled himself to fast and found favor with God to go back and fulfill God’s purpose with His people.
- In 2 Samuel 1:12 we see David fasting in grief at the loss of Saul and Johnathan. This was just before he took the throne to rule Israel. David humbled himself to fast.
Fast To Cure Spiritual Dryness
Have you ever wondered how to fast and pray for a breakthrough?
Sometimes we are just in a dry season. Dryness comes without warning and is difficult to shake. Sometimes we are dry and don’t even realize it. Other times we need a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit as we head to serve in some way. Either way, fasting cures Spiritual dryness in cool ways.
- Jesus did not begin His public ministry until after a time of fasting (Matthew 4:1-11).
- The Church spent time fasting when asking for gifts or filling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 14:23)
Why do we fast and pray scripture? Because Jesus showed us a powerful example of just that! I love the promise of Jesus to fill those who hunger for Him.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6
Check out this beautiful promise of refreshing when our fast is acceptable to God.
“And the Lord will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11
Fast For Protection From Evil
Other times we are faced with situations that are purely evil. When there is something oppressive that you can’t shake, a time of fasting can bring peace and healing.
- The disciples were upset that they could not cast out a demon – Jesus answered that “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” Matthew 17:21
- Again we see a fast with a prayer for protection in Ezra 8:21-23.
- Not only can we fast for personal protection, but we can also intercede for others as in Ester 4:16.
Fast To Overcome Sin
The last reason to fast may seem obvious, but it must be said that sin brings consequences. One consequence of sin that we rarely recognize is spiritual dryness and unanswered prayers. When you are struggling to break free from sin, a time of fasting is powerful. The power of prayer and fasting can not be overstated!
As a side note, fasting often reveals areas of sin we didn’t realize we had. Whether you want to deal with a sin issue or not, God often wants to work sin issues out of us. So beware of that.
- When sin was revealed a fast was called In 1 Kings 21:25-27.
- In Joel 2:12 a fast is called as the people are returning to the Lord.
- The entire city of Nineveh calls for a fast (Jonah 3:5-9) with the hope that God would reverse the coming calamity.
- We see that same theme again in 2 Samuel 12:15-17 when David is asking God to turn away judgment for his sin.
Why Do We Fast And Pray? Do These 5 Reasons Speak To You?
Can you relate to any of those Biblical Old and New Testament reasons for fasting? Are there things in your life that you need divine intervention about?
Why do we fast and pray?
A fast is a weapon in our spiritual arsenal that can be used to fight a very real enemy. When you fast, you draw nearer to God to seek God for guidance and intervention in your life.
Maybe you are with me and agree that fasting is important, that there are great reasons to fast but you still have questions. What do you do when you fast and pray? In the weeks to come we will dissect fasting even more to answer that question:
- How To Fast in A Way that Pleases God
- What Not To Do While Fasting
- What To Expect Before, During, and After The Fast
- The Scary Truth About My First Fast
If you need help to get started with fasting and prayer, check out this short book, “A Beginner’s Guide to Fast and Pray“.
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