The Power of Prayer & Fasting By Mike Prah
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly.” Joel 2:15
WHAT IS FASTING?
Biblical fasting is abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. Simply going without food because it is not available or for medical reasons is not biblical fasting. There must be a spiritual motivation to qualify a fast as biblical. Fasting is disciplining your flesh by abstaining from natural pleasures for a selected period of time while focusing on a deeper relationship with God.
In his book “A Hunger for God,” John Piper writes, “Christian fasting, at its root, is the hunger of a homesickness for God to gain superior satisfaction in God. It is also a chosen weapon against every force in the world that would take that satisfaction away."
SOME BIBLICAL EXAMPLES
Jesus fasted to gain spiritual strength and acknowledge His dependence on the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. He did this before He began His public ministry (Luke 4:1-2).
Nehemiah fasted for repentance and favor in the sight of the king to gain permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:4).
David fasted, asking God to intervene because of injustice (Psalm 35:13). In 2 Samuel 12:17-23, he fasted for healing and miraculous intervention.
Mordecai and the Jews fasted upon hearing the news of Haman’s wicked plot for their extermination (Esther 4:3).
The early church fasted while worshiping and committing their ministry to the Lord. They also sought the Lord through fasting for guidance and confirmation during the appointment of elders (Acts 13:2, 14:23).
Jesus expected His disciples to fast (Matthew 6:16).
PURPOSE OF FASTING: WHY FAST?
1. To get clear directions from God.
2. For spiritual growth in your life.
3. To break the curse of Satan and to defeat every opposition against your life and your generation.
4. To obtain personal breakthroughs in your health, finances, emotions, job, relations and every area of your life.
5. To see the supernatural hand of God released to experience uncommon miracles in your life and generation.
6. To cover your children under God's protection and provision in society.
7. Marriage enrichment.
8. To intercede for your family members & friends who need deliverance.
9. To intercede for your Church leaders, employers and government leaders to do God's will and be blessed by God.
One of the keys to personal renewal, fruitful recovery, and overall effectiveness in life is fasting with prayer. When the early Church in the Book of Acts wanted to see souls saved and lives changed, they fasted. When they wanted to minister to the needs of people with supernatural power and effectiveness, they fasted. When they needed miraculous provision, they fasted. In fact, whenever they faced personal or corporate challenges that required God’s intervention, they fasted, and God answered! And today, over 2,000 years later, fasting with prayer remains the key to uncommon breakthrough!
BENEFITS OF FASTING
– Fasting enables us to humble ourselves before God so that God can use us in dynamic ways (Psalm 38:13, Psalm 69:10, 2 Chronicles 7:14).
– Fasting is a means by which a believer brings his/her body into submission to God’s will (1 Corinthians 9:27).
– Fasting changes a person, not God. God is omnipotent and unchanging (Malachi 3:6).
– Fasting breaks down the barriers in a person's carnal nature that stand in the way of the Holy Spirit’s control over his/her life (Ephesians 3:20).
– Fasting intensifies prayer and enables the believer to become more effective in every area (physically, spiritually, emotionally, relationally, financially, vocationally) (Daniel 9:2, 3; Daniel 10:1-14).
- Fasting unleashes spiritual strength against an enemy attack (Mark 9:28-29 NKJV, Matthew 26:41 NIV).
– Fasting empowers the believer to obtain deliverance, spiritual breakthroughs, answered prayers and victory (Isaiah 58:6, 2 Chronicles 7:14, 15, 2 Chronicles 20:1-30).
– Fasting prepares the believer to receive a fresh outpouring of the Spirit and the blessings of God (Joel 2:12-29).
– Fasting has medical benefits and produces healing (Isaiah 58:8).
– Fasting will bring peace to our land (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
WRONG REASONS FOR FASTING
- To be seen by others (Matthew 6:18). Piper writes, “The critical issue is not whether people know you are fasting but whether you want them to know so that you can bask in their admiration.”
- To be justified by God. In a parable to people “confident of their own righteousness,” Jesus spoke of two men. One said, “I fast twice a week.” The other said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The latter “went home justified before God" (Luke 18:9-14 NIV)
- To be commended by God. Food will not commend us to God; we are neither better if we do, nor worse if we don't eat (1 Cor. 8:8 NIV). Fasting does not cause us to “earn” something from God, but it helps us to be more receptive to what He wants to do in and through us to accomplish His awesome purposes for our life.
TYPES OF FASTS
The goal of fasting is to draw nearer to God. Biblical fasting always has to do with eliminating distractions for a spiritual purpose; it hits the reset button of our soul and renews us from the inside out. It also enables us to celebrate the goodness and mercy of God and prepares our hearts for all the good things God desires to bring into our lives.
Remember, your personal fast should present a level of challenge, but it is very important to know your body, your options, and, most importantly, to seek God in prayer and follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do. The duration of your fast can be for 3, 7, 14, 21, 40 days or any time period that you choose.
SELECTIVE FAST (For Example: Daniel Fast)
This type of fast involves removing certain elements from your diet. One example of a selective fast is the Daniel Fast, during which you remove meat, sweets, and bread from your diet and consume fruits and vegetables for food, and water and natural juices for fluids. This is the fasting that FavorLife Church recommends and practices twice a year in January and September for 21 days.
- PARTIAL FAST
This fast is sometimes called the “Jewish Fast” and involves abstaining from eating any type of food in the morning and afternoon. This can either correlate to specific times of the day, such as 6:00 am to 3:00 pm, or from sunup to sundown (6am to 6pm) During our 21 Day Fast, individuals may select this fast due to personal reasons or choose to partake of Daniel Fast on certain days or weeks and Partial Fast on other times.
- SOUL FAST
This fast is a great option if you do not have much experience with food fasting, have health issues that prevent you from food fasting, or if you wish to refocus certain areas of your life that are out of balance. For example, you might choose to stop using social media or watching television for the duration of the fast while focusing on prayer and devotion to God, and then carefully bring that element back into your life in healthy doses at the conclusion of the fasting period.
- COMPLETE FAST (Not recommended)
In this type of fast, you drink only liquids, typically water. FavorLife Church DOES NOT RECOMMEND this type of fast for health reasons.
FASTING: HELPFUL HINTS
1. Focus on the Word of God and increase prayer devotions during a fast. Select from a list of several Daily Bible Reading and Devotional Plans from our Church Website (see Fasting Resources below) to guide your reading of God’s Word. Daily Prayers are also available from the Fasting Resources below.
2. Fasting will increase your faith and your relationship with God.
3. During a fast, prayers must be specific. It is wise to keep a journal of your prayers and how God answers them.
4. Avoid eating a large meal before you begin to fast. This will make you even hungrier when you start your fast. Continue to eat fruit and vegetables before for at least three days before you begin to fast.
5. Drink lots of water and fluids: bottled, distilled, or purified preferably at room temperature. Do not drink tap water.
6. The first beginning few days will be the hardest days of the fast, afterwards each day actually gets easier as you pray and press your way into God.
7. Fasting strengthens your inner will. You will not starve to death by fasting. Fast until God has dealt with you or you feel a release.
8. Fasting will not impair your health; however, consult with your physician if you have any concerns. It is not recommended that a pregnant woman should fast.
9. Limit (or perhaps eliminate) your indulgence in one or more of your usual pleasure practices (i.e. TV, a favorite hobby or sport, etc.) during the 40 fasting period.
10. The victory often comes after the fast is over.
11. Wisdom should be used when breaking a fast. Do not eat food like meats that are hard to digest when breaking a fast. Eat fruits or vegetables and drink plenty of water before, during and after fasting.
If you have any health concerns or are pregnant, please consult with your physician for advice before starting any fast.
PRAY FOR YOUR LOCAL CHURCH DURING YOUR FAST AS FOLLOWS:
1. Pray that the church would be built after God’s pattern and that God would be glorified and the name of Christ be exalted in all things (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, Exodus 25:8-9, Matthew 16: 17-19, Ephesians 2:18-22).
2. Pray that the church would grow in all dimensions:
- Stronger through Worship
- Deeper through Discipleship
- Larger through Evangelism
- Broader through Service
- Warmer through Fellowship
(Ephesians 4: 7-16, Acts 2:41-47, Acts 4: 31-35)
3. Pray that God’s Spirit and power would fill the church (Ephesians 3:16-19).
4. Pray that God would destroy every satanic attack and calculation designed to hinder the growth, progress, advancement and establishment of the church (Matthew 16:18, Acts 12:1-10, 2 Corinthians 2:11).
5. Pray that God would destroy and arrest the operations of the spirits of strife, contentions, envy, jealousy, backbiting, criticism, undermining, sabotage and every form of carnality that hinders the work of God (Galatians 5:13-26, James 3:10-18).
6. Pray that God would release a spirit of unity and team work, in the lives of the people of God (Nehemiah 4:15-21, Ephesians 4:16).
7. Pray that the Church would faithfully show love to a hurting world in His Name (John 13:35).
8. Pray that all members of the church would discover their divine calling and ministries and would be fruitful in utilizing their gifts for the benefit of others, to the glory of God (Romans 12:3-8, 1Corinthians 12: 4-31).
9. Pray and release every human, financial and material resource that heaven has ordained for the advancement of the Church (Psalm 118:25, Philippians 4:19).
10. Pray that God would supernaturally empower His church financially so that the church can meet all its financial obligations without struggle (Psalm 34;10, 2 Corinthians 12:9).
11. Pray that every department of the church would be functional, efficient and effective and that all the needs of the people of God would be met ( 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 4:19).
12. Pray for the leaders of every church, that their hearts, minds, motives, and actions are directed towards Christ (Galatians 6:9, 2 Timothy 2:15, Hebrews 13:7).
13. Pray for the church to have a love for God’s Word and to walk in His wisdom, humility, and strength (2 Chronicles 7:14).
14. Pray for revival and the activation of every spiritual gift in the lives of the people of God. Pray that this revival would cause a massive in-gathering of souls into the kingdom of God. (2 Timothy 1:6).
15. Pray that God would bless His church tremendously in all dimensions, and stir us up to Godly action for the advancement of the Kingdom of God (Ephesians 6:18).
PRAYER OF DEDICATION
Heavenly Father, today I consecrate myself to You in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. I receive fresh oil from Your presence to empower me to be effective in these days of fasting and prayer.
I declare that I shall not be distracted by any device of the enemy but I shall come to a place of deliverance, breakthroughs and victory in every dimension of my life.
I receive supernatural strength from the Holy Spirit to rise above the cravings of my human nature. I declare that in the midst of this fast I would receive power and divine directions from the presence of God that would positively affect my destiny.
Thank you, Lord for my season of breakthroughs and Double Portion anointing. I receive every blessing and miracle that You have ordained for me, in Jesus mighty name, Amen!
Click below to access Fasting Resources