At least some form of fasting and prayer is universally practiced in almost all religions. It’s not distinctively Christian although Judaism and Christianity have their own way of doing it. The reason for this Q&A is the lack of understanding among Christians about the spiritual discipline of Fasting and Prayer. It answers some of the basic yet commonly asked questions. Read on to learn the major spiritual truths about this discipline.
1. Is Fasting and Prayer Biblical?
I. Yes. Fasting and prayer are approved practices in the New Testament as well as the Old. Here’s why?
II. God urged His people to fast and pray, (Joel 2:12) Jesus fasted and prayed in the wilderness for 40 days, (Matthew 4:1-2). He urged others to do it the right way, (Matthew 6:16-18)
III. Prominent characters in the Bible fast and prayed, (Daniel 9:3) Early church leaders received God’s guidance through fasting and prayer, (Acts 13:2)
2. What is the Historical Basis?
I. It wasn’t strictly Jewish. Pagan nations also have observed the fast, (Jonah 3:6-9)
II. In the Bible, people observed the fast as a means of producing repentance, (Jonah 3:10)
III. Jews observed the fast on the day of atonement (Yom Kippur). This was mandatory, (Leviticus 16:29-31)
3. Is it different from Prayer?
We pray regularly to have fellowship with God. Fast and prayer, on the other hand, is a spiritual discipline.
4. Why do we Fast and Pray?
It’s a deliberate act of starving our flesh, (obviously!). When the flesh is starved our spirit becomes stronger, sensitive, and more receptive to the Holy Spirit of God.
5. What is fast and prayer isn’t?
I. A symbol of the individual religious devotion or spiritual superiority, (Matthew 6:16-18)
II. A merit-producing, manipulative, or in any other way, an act of bargaining with God.
III. Not a way to move God in closer alignment with us and our will, but rather to draw us in alignment with God and His will!
6. How long must I Fast and Pray?
I. It depends. There are no regulations. Most fasts in the Bible were for one day, usually the hours between sunrise and sunset. 3 or 6 days at the most, (ending on the 7th day).
II. Bible never encourages long fasts that would be damaging to one’s body and mind.
III. Partial fasts are acceptable. You can skip one or two meals and still call it fast. Remember, God looks at the heart, not the fast.
7. When should I Fast and Pray?
I. When anticipating special ministerial opportunities, (Acts 13:3). Deliverance ministry also requires fasting and prayer, (Mark 9:29 – KJV)
II. When God’s will is not clear, (Acts 13:1-3)
III. Intercession, (Esther 4:16). Especially in times of repentance and mourning over a national crisis, (2 Chronicles 7:14)
8. Anything else I should Know?
I. It’s always fast and prayer. If you are too busy to pray then don’t fast. I strongly discourage anyone from seeking to fast and pray on a busy day.
II. When in doubt, always consult your physician. Don’t fast and pray if you are not in the right physical shape for it.
III. Fasting and prayer are voluntary acts. Don’t force yourself into doing it.
Fasting and prayer are widely practiced disciplines in the Church. Hence it’s important that we know why we do what we do and the right way of doing it.
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