Fasting and Prayer - Why Should Christians Fast?
By: John Lindell08/09/16

The Call to Fast (Part 2)

One of James River’s campuses sits on a piece of property that had been owned by the same family since the Civil War. We had looked for land around the city and knew this ground was uniquely suited to meet the needs of our growing church family. We weren’t the only ones who had noticed the property’s potential – major retail chains were also interested, but the family wasn’t interested in selling. Debbie and I went and sat on the front porch, drinking iced tea, with the family’s matriarch. We talked about the church and our dreams for what God might do through the church on the land, but as we got up to leave, she made it clear that the land was not for sale.

What do you do when you’ve exhausted all your options, when you believe you know God’s will but you can’t see how in the world it will come to pass? You fast. We called the church to a three day fast. We knew we needed God’s help for our need to be met. Within ten days of the church praying, the miracle came as the family who owned the property offered to sell the property to the church. When God’s people fast and pray the supernatural happens!

Why should we fast?

The Bible lists a variety of reasons for engaging in a fast.

1. Fasting Helps Secure Favor in Situations

Nehemiah 1:4, “As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” (ESV)

Nehemiah 1:11, “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. Now I was cupbearer to the king.” (ESV)

The story of Nehemiah is a vibrant example of the favor that comes with denying ourselves for the purpose of drawing near to God.

2. Fasting Prepares Us for New Seasons of Life

  1. Moses fasted before he received the law
  2. Jesus fasted prior to the start of His earthly ministry
  3. Paul fasted before the start of his missionary ministry

Acts 13:2, “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (ESV)

3. Fasting Gives Us Greater Awareness of God’s Presence

Isaiah 58:8-9a, “Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’” (ESV)

There is a unique spiritual sensitivity that comes through prayer and fasting. Fasting has a way of quieting our heart. Fasting helps us to hear from the Lord. If you are struggling to discern God’s voice, one of the best things you can do is fast!

4. Fasting helps us Discern God’s Will and Breaks Satan’s Grip

Daniel 10:1-4a, “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision. At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. On the twenty-fourth day of the first month.…” (NIV)

Daniel fasted 3 weeks, 21 days and, humanly speaking, it appeared nothing had happened!

Daniel 10:4, “On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris,” (NIV)

Notice that the first day of the fast the answer was on its way. Daniel didn’t see or hear anything for 24 days; but Heaven heard, and his answer was on its way from the very first day.

Did God answer Daniel?

Daniel fasted 3 weeks, 21 days and, humanly speaking, it appeared nothing had happened!

Daniel 10:5-9, “I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude. I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.” (NIV)

When you fast, you are going to see God show up in the midst of your situation.

Daniel 10:10-11a, “A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said, ‘Daniel, you who are highly esteemed….’” (NIV)

When you fast and pray, Heaven takes note. When you say, “I want God’s blessing more than I want food,” the Lord will help you.

Daniel 10:11b-12, “‘…consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.’ And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling. Then he continued, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.’” (NIV)

Notice that the first day of the fast the answer was on it way!

Daniel 10:13-14, “But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.” (NIV)

The reward is worth the struggle.

Those verses remind us that when we are fasting there is a spiritual battle taking place. The struggles of fasting are not just physical. As we fast and pray we are doing spiritual warfare. Satan would love nothing more than for you to give up. Whatever your need is you can be sure of this, God responds to His people when they respond to him. If you want to see God’s power in your life and in your situation, set your heart on seeking him. As you draw near to him through fasting and prayer – you will see God do extraordinary things in your life.

Read The Call to Fast Part 1 on what is biblical fasting and if Christian’s should fast.