I know many people don’t really like this topic but it doesn’t really change the fact that praying and fasting have been known for centuries for their effectiveness.
Deep knowledge of the Word doesn’t mean you won’t fast and pray! Death and resurrection of Jesus didn’t put full stop to fasting and prayers.If you still don’t believe,read what Paul(who became an Apostle after the death and resurrection of Christ) said about how he served in his missionary journeys:
“…in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often…2Cor 11:27.
But before I write on the indications for fasting and prayers,I want to make three general points about fasting and prayers:
1)Fasting should not be targeted to change God’s will when repentance is indicated.Fasting does not change God,it changes us!For example,David wanted to use it to alter the decision of God about his child that was sick,but it failed:
“But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground.”-2Sam 12:14-18a.
When repentance is needed,please repent! Fasting can help add seriousness to the repentance as it happened to the Ninevites but it can’t be used to manipulate God.
2)As far as you can,fasting should be done privately.It should be an affair between you and God.It is not for showmanship.However,people who cook for you or who know when you eat can be informed not to bother about you when you are fasting.Outside these,it should not be for public consumption.
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full”-Matt 6:16
3)Fasting and prayers are not only meant strictly for the purposes underlisted.The Bible says ‘when you fast’ and ‘when you pray’ not ‘if ye pray/fast’.So, it is expected that we do both .For instance:
“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage.Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer“-Luke 2:36-37
INDICATIONS FOR FASTING AND PRAYERS
These are special situations in which you need to set out time to seek the face of God despite your busy schedules:
a)When you need certain information from God: Moses fasted 40days and 40nights three times! Two out of those times,he fasted to get the 10 commandments.
“When I went up on the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant that the Lord had made with you, I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water”- Deut. 9:9
Moses broke the tablets and he had to sacrifice food and water for another long period in order to get this special information from God:
“Then once again I fell prostrate before the Lord for forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water, because of all the sin you had committed”-Deut 9:18
Do you need some sensitive information about your life,career,ministry etc? If yes,you need to add fasting to your prayers.
b) When you are weak spiritually:If you discover your prayer life is nose-diving or possibly you notice you are no longer interested in the things of God or you become lethargic like Elijah,then you need to fast and pray!
“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”-1Kings 19:3-4
“So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God”vs 8
How could breaking of a day’s fast with a single meal sustain Elijah for 40days and 40nights? That could only be through supernatural strength. Number 40 is symbolic in the Bible so everyone who is a Christian needs to fast once a while to run a successful journey to Heaven.
c) To break yokes,strongholds of addictions,demons etc: It should be noted that when you are addicted to something bad,you need to abstain first from such thing like Job did:
“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman”-Job 31:1
That verse was not talking about food abstinence.It was about abstaining from the thing that tempted him.Job decided not to look at a woman with lustful eyes.So, an alcohol addict needs to abstain from alcohol, likewise a sexually immoral person needs to run away from anything that makes him/her to lust.
But abstinence alone cannot guarantee freedom especially when the person is already under the stronghold of demons like the young boy with seizures. Such a person needs to be delivered.The person that will deliver such a demon possessed person must fast and pray or else that kind won’t go out.His fasting must be sincere and not to show off:
“What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling?This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance,bowing your head like reeds bending in the wind.You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes.Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord?”-Isa 58:4-5
What then should be the primary focus of the person that fasts to deliver others?
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people.” Isa 58:6
This verse 6 further gives credence to what Christ told the disciples about setting people free:The spiritually imprisoned,the burdened,the oppressed,the chained can’t be set free except by prayer and fasting.
To be continued on Sunday.