Prayer & Fasting

Six Vital Questions About Prayer Q: What Is Prayer?

Simply put, prayer is communicating with God. Real prayer is expressing our devotion to our heavenly Father, inviting Him to talk to us as we talk to Him.

Q: Who Can Pray?

Anyone can pray, but only those who walk in faith and obedience to Christ can expect to receive answers to their prayers.

Contact with God begins when we receive Jesus into our lives as Savior and Lord (John 14:6). Praying with a clean heart is also vital to successful prayer. We cannot expect God to answer our prayers if there is any unconfessed sin in our life or if we are harboring an unforgiving spirit (Psalm 66:18; Mark 11:25). For God to answer our prayers, we must have a believing heart and ask according to His will (Matthew 9:29; 21:22; 1 John 5:14,15).

Q: Why Are We to Pray?

God’s Word commands us to pray (Luke 18:1; Acts 6:4; Mark 14:38; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2; 1 Timothy 2:1,2).

We pray to have fellowship with God, receive spiritual nurture and strength to live a victorious life, and maintain boldness for a vital witness for Christ.

Prayer releases God’s great power to change the course of nature, people, and nations.

Q: To Whom Do We Pray?

We pray to the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. when we pray to the Father, our prayers are accepted by Jesus Christ and interpreted to God the Father by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26, 27,34).

Q: When Should We Pray?

God’s Word commands us to “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We can be in prayer throughout the day, expressing and demonstrating our devotion to God as we go about our daily tasks.

It is not always necessary to be on our knees, or even in a quiet room to pray. God wants us to be in touch with Him constantly wherever we are. We can pray in the car, while washing the dishes, or while walking down the street.

Q: What Should We Include in Our Prayers?

Although prayer cannot be reduced to a formula, certain basic elements should be included in our

communication with God: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication (ACTS).

A-Adoration

To adore God is to worship and praise Him, to honor and exalt Him in our heart and mind and with our lips.

C-Confession

When our discipline of prayer begins with adoration, the Holy Spirit has opportunity to reveal any sin in our life that needs to be confessed.

T-Thanksgiving

An attitude of thanksgiving to God, for who He is and for the benefits we enjoy because we belong to Him, enables us to recognize that He controls all things – not just the blessings, but the problems and adversities as well. As we approach God with a thankful heart, He becomes strong on our behalf.

S-Supplication

Supplication includes petition for our own needs and intercession for others. Pray that your inner person may be renewed, always sensitive to and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Pray for others – your spouse, your children, your parents, neighbors, and friends; our nation and those in authority over us. Pray for the salvation of souls, for a daily opportunity to introduce others to Christ and to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

How to Begin Your Fast

How to Begin Your Fast

How you begin and conduct your fast will largely determine your success. By following these seven basic steps to fasting, you will make your time with the Lord more meaningful and spiritually rewarding.

STEP 1: Set Your Objective

Why are you fasting? Is it for spiritual renewal, for guidance, for healing, for the resolution of problems, for special grace to handle a difficult situation? Ask the Holy Spirit to clarify His leading and objectives for your prayer fast. This will enable you to pray more specifically and strategically.

Through fasting and prayer we humble ourselves before God so the Holy Spirit will stir our souls, awaken our churches, and heal our land according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. Make this a priority in your fasting.

STEP 2: Make Your Commitment

Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake. Jesus implied that all of His followers should fast (Matthew 6:16-18; 9:14,15) For Him it was a matter of when believers would fast, not if they would do it. Before you fast, decide the following up front:* How long you will fast – one meal, one day, a week, several weeks, forty days (Beginners should start slowly, building up to longer fasts.)

* The type of fast God wants you to undertake (such as water only, or water and juices; what kinds of juices you will drink and how often)

* What physical or social activities you will restrict

* How much time each day you will devote to prayer and God’s Word

Making these commitments ahead of time will help you sustain your fast when physical temptations and life’s pressures tempt you to abandon it.

STEP 3: Prepare Yourself Spiritually

The very foundation of fasting and prayer is repentance. Unconfessed sin will hinder your prayers. Here are several things you can do to prepare your heart:

* Ask God to help you make a comprehensive list of your sins.

* Confess every sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and accept God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9).

* Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3,4).

* Make restitution as the Holy Spirit leads you.

* Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit according to His command in Ephesians 5:18 and His promise in 1 John 5:14,15.

* Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master; refuse to obey your worldly nature (Romans 12:1,2).

* Meditate on the attributes of God, His love, sovereignty, power, wisdom, faithfulness, grace, compassion, and others (Psalm 48:9,10; 103:1-8. 11-13).

* Begin your time of fasting and prayer with an expectant heart (Hebrews 11:6).

* Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit (Galatians 5:16,17).

STEP 4: Prepare Yourself Physically

Fasting requires reasonable precautions. Consult your physician first, especially if you take prescription medication or have a chronic ailment. Some persons should never fast without professional supervision.

Physical preparation makes the drastic change in your eating routine a little easier so that you can turn your full attention to the Lord in prayer.

* Do not rush into your fast.

* Prepare your body. Eat smaller meals before starting a fast. Avoid high-fat and sugary foods.

* Eat raw fruit and vegetables for two days before starting a fast.

While You Fast

Your time of fasting and prayer has come. You are abstaining from all solid foods and have begun to seek the Lord. Here are some helpful suggestions to consider:

* Avoid drugs, even natural herbal drugs and homeopathic remedies. Medication should be withdrawn only with your physician’s supervision.

* Limit your activity.

* Exercise only moderately. Walk one to three miles each day if convenient and comfortable.

* Rest as much as your schedule will permit.

* Prepare yourself for temporary mental discomforts, such as impatience, crankiness, and anxiety.

* Expect some physical discomforts, especially on the second day. You may have fleeting hunger pains, dizziness, or the “blahs.” Withdrawal from caffeine and sugar may cause headaches. Physical annoyances may also include weakness, tiredness, or sleeplessness.

The first two or three days are usually the hardest. As you continue to fast, you will likely experience a sense of well-being both physically and spiritually. However, should you feel hunger pains, increase your liquid intake.

STEP 5: Put Yourself on a Schedule

For maximum spiritual benefit, set aside ample time to be alone with the Lord. Listen for His leading. The more time you spend with Him, the more meaningful your fast will be.

Morning

  • Begin your day in praise and worship.
    * Read and meditate on God’s Word, preferably on your knees.
    * Invite the Holy Spirit to work in you to will and to so His good pleasure according to Philippians 2:13.
    * Invite God to use you. Ask Him to show you how to influence your world, your family, your church, your community, your country, and beyond.
    * Pray for His vision for your life and empowerment to do His will.
  • Noon
    * Return to prayer and God’s Word. * Take a short prayer walk.
    * Spend time in intercessory prayer for your community’s and nation’s leaders, for the world’s unreached millions, for your family or special needs.
  • Evening
    * Get alone for an unhurried time of “seeking His face.”
    * If others are fasting with you, meet together for prayer.
    * Avoid television or any other distraction that may dampen your spiritual focus.
    When possible, begin and end each day on your knees with your spouse for a brief time of praise and thanksgiving to God. Longer periods of time with our Lord in prayer and study of His Word are often better spent alone.
    A dietary routine is vital as well. Dr. Julio C. Ruibal – a nutritionist, pastor, and specialist in fasting and prayer – suggests a daily schedule and list of juices you may find useful and satisfying. Modify this schedule and the drinks you take to suit your circumstances and tastes.
    5 a.m. – 8 a.m.
    Fruit juices, preferably freshly squeezed or blended and diluted in 50 percent distilled water if the fruit is acid. Apple, pear, grapefruit, papaya, watermelon, or other fruit juices are generally preferred. If you cannot do you own juicing, buy juices without sugar or additives.
    10:30 a.m. – noon
    Fresh vegetable juice made from lettuce, celery, and carrots in three equal parts.
    2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.
    Herb tea with a drop of honey. Avoid black tea or any tea with caffeine.
    6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
    Broth made from boiling potatoes, celery, and carrots with no salt. After boiling about half an hour, pour the water into a container and drink it.
    Tips on Juice Fasting
    * Drinking fruit juice will decrease your hunger pains and give your some natural sugar

energy. The taste and lift will motivate and strengthen you to continue.

* The best juices are made from fresh watermelon, lemons, grapes, apples, cabbage, beets, carrots, celery, or leafy green vegetables. In cold weather, you may enjoy a warm vegetable broth.

* Mix acidic juices (orange and tomato) with water for your stomach’s sake.

* Avoid caffeinated drinks. And avoid chewing gum or mints, even if your breath is bad. They stimulate digestive action in your stomach.

Breaking Your Fast

When your designated time for fasting is finished, you will begin to eat again. But how you break your fast is extremely important for your physical and spiritual well-being.

STEP 6: End Your Fast Gradually

Begin eating gradually. Do not eat solid foods immediately after your fast. Suddenly reintroducing solid food to your stomach and digestive tract will likely have negative, even dangerous, consequences. Try several smaller meals or snacks each day. If you end your fast gradually, the beneficial physical and spiritual effects will result in continued good health.

Here are some suggestions to help you end your fast properly:

* Break an extended water fast with fruit such as watermelon.

* While continuing to drink fruit or vegetable juices, add the following:

-First day: Add a raw salad.

-Second day: Add baked or boiled potato, no butter or seasoning.

-Third day: Add a steamed vegetable. Thereafter: Begin to reintroduce your normal diet.

* Gradually return to regular eating with several small snacks during the first few days. Start with a little soup and fresh fruit is such as watermelon and cantaloupe. Advance to a few tablespoons of solid foods such as raw fruits and vegetables or a raw salad and baked potato.

A Final Word

STEP 7: Expect Results

If you sincerely humble yourself before the Lord, repent, pray, and seek God’s face; if you consistently meditate on His Word, you will experience a heightened awareness of His presence (John 14:21). The Lord will give you fresh, new spiritual insights. Your confidence and faith in God will be

strengthened. You will feel mentally, spiritually, and physically refreshed. You will see answers to your prayers.

A single fast, however, is not a spiritual cure-all. Just as we need fresh infillings of the Holy Spirit daily, we also need new times of fasting before God. A 24-hour fast each week has been greatly rewarding to many Christians.

It takes time to build your spiritual fasting muscles. If you fail to make it through your first fast, do not be discouraged. You may have tried to fast too long the first time out, or your may need to strengthen your understanding and resolve. As soon as possible, undertake another fast until you

do succeed. God will honor you for your faithfulness.

I encourage you to join me in fasting and prayer again and again until we truly experience revival in our homes, our churches, our beloved nation, and throughout the world.

Why People Fast

Reasons Why People Fast:

Fasting in the Bible has been done for a wide range of reasons. These include:

  • Samuel led the people of Israel into a fast to celebrate the return of the ark of covenant, and to pray for deliverance over the sin that had led to it being captured and taken away. 

1 Samuel 7:6 – “And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the Lord. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.”

  • Ezra proclaimed a fast at the Ahaza Canal so as to humble themselves before the Lord, ask for his guidance and provision, and for protection against their enemies as they planned on the course of rebuilding Jerusalem.

Ezra 8:21-23 – “Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God to seek from Him a safe journey for us, our little ones, and all our possessions. For I was ashamed to request from the king troops and horsemen to protect us from the enemy on the way, because we had said to the king, “The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him.” So we fasted and sought our God concerning this matter, and He listened to our entreaty.” 

  • Esther, her cousin Mordecai, and her attendants as well as all the Jews in Shushan fasted for 3 days and 3 nights praying for favor and breakthrough before Esther’s ‘illegal’ but divine appearance before the King. 

Esther 3:16 – “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.” 

  • A man came to Jesus and begged him to have mercy on his son since the disciples of Jesus had tried to cure him but they did not succeed. Jesus rebuked the devil and he departed out of the boy. When the disciples asked why they could not cure the boy, Jesus told them that such as that can not be cast out unless by prayer and fasting.

Matthew 17:21 – …this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

  • The most extreme fasts in the bible are the 40 day and 40 night complete fasts (no food or water) undertaken by Jesus and Moses. It is advisable to consult your doctor before going without any water or food for more than 24 hours

Exodus 34:28

“So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” 

Matthew 4:2

“And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.” 

From the above, we now know that there are different motivations to fasting. Sometimes we fast because we feel like we are in a spiritual wilderness and we need a breakthrough, or because we need God’s leadership as we start the new year, or even for thanking God and praying for divine intervention for situations and for our loved ones. We sometimes fast to provide food for the needy, or to pray for God’s deliverance from the sin we fleshly struggle with and for revival. Some people fast to get healed physically and others to seek God’s direction and will in their lives. You have a number of options on paths of fasting you can take as outlined below.

Types of Fasting

Types of Fasting:

  1. Complete fasting – In complete fasting, you usually do not eat anything for the duration of the fast, be it a day, two, or three. It involves drinking only water or fluids such as juice, especially when it is a fast of over 24 hours. 
  2. Partial (Morning till evening) – This fasting uses either of the paths of complete fasting, that is, either dry fasting or only drinking water, but usually runs from morning till evening before breaking the fast. Some people prefer eating breakfast and not eating anything until they break the fast at night for dinner, while others prefer to fast from dinner to dinner.
  3. Selective/Daniel fast (Certain Kinds of Foods) – This involves choosing to eat only certain kinds of foods and avoiding others over the fast period. Mostly, people avoid meat or sweets, and go for soup only, or fruit and vegetables only, or the juices of the fruits and vegetables, etc. Note that in Daniel 10:3, Daniel ate no bread. Selective fasting is usually designed for mostly 3 or more days, and could go as long as 21 days or even more depending on the person or group engaging in the fast. Selective fast can be from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm or from sunrise to sunset. 

Daniel 10:3 – “I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth, nor did I use any ointment at all until the entire three weeks were completed.

  1. Dry Fast. There are a few instances in the bible where people fasted without food or drink for a short period of time as they sought God.

Esther 3:16 – “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.” 

  • People have erroneously quoted these two portions of scriptures as instances of a 40 days dry fast.

Exodus 34:28

“So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” 

Matthew 4:2

“And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.” 

In Exodus 34:28, Moses is not said to have been in fasting for those 40 days but he was in the presence of the Lord for those 40 days. When in that very presence, the need for physical nourishment was not these in his physical body. It’s not the same as fasting when you’re not physically in His presence.

In Mathew 4:2, Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights. We’re told  that after those days, he became hungry but we’re not told that He became thirsty. That tells you that he must have been drinking and not eating.

Before you engage in a dry fast (without drinking water or other fluids), make sure you consult a doctor so that they can give you advice.

Note: 

  • Jews fast usually begins at 6:00 P.M. in the evening and ends the next day at 6:00 P.M (24 hours). Some people follow this time period to begin and end fasts.
  • Remember, fasting should go with prayer. Worship and prayer are great compliments to fasting, as well as reading the bible. Christ called on us to fast and pray. If you are fasting a certain meal of the day, use the time you would normally be eating to pray. The combination of prayer and fasting is a powerful way to focus on seeking God for breakthrough and answers to prayer. 
  • Dry/absolute fasting (no food or water) should not generally be done for over 3 days and even then only if you are in great health and have a clear directive from the Lord. 
  • People under medicinal prescriptions should also consult their doctors before choosing the specific type of fast to engage in.
  • To create a better time with God and to listen to his voice, be intentional about not getting distracted by phones, radio, social media, or other people, especially while in prayer over your fast period. For example, you can choose not to listen to the radio as you drive to work and just talk to God and meditate on scripture in solitude. 

From the above description, you have probably noted that the path of fasting you choose is usually between you and God. He will honor your best sacrifice offered from a contrite heart and spirit. 

May our good Lord give you the strength as you fast, may He not hide His face when you seek him, may he speak to you in a language that you can understand, May he repeat it to you over and over again like a baby so that you do not forget his word, and may your prayers be answered in accordance to His perfect will and richness in Christ Jesus. Blessings!

Scripture References for Fasting:

Matthew 6:16-18 – “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

Matthew 9:14-15, 

Luke 18:9-14

Relation to Prayer and Reading of the Word:

1 Samuel 1:6-8, 17-18, Nehemiah 1:4, Daniel 9:3, 20, Joel 2:12, Luke 2:37, Acts 10:30, Acts 13:2, Isaiah 58, Jeremiah 14:12, 1 Corinthians 8:8

Corporate/Group Fasting:

1 Samuel 7:5-6, Ezra 8:21-23, Nehemiah 9:1-3, Joel 2:15-16, Jonah 3:5-10, Acts 27:33-37

 

7 Basic Steps of Fasting & Prayer

7 Basic Steps to Fasting and Prayer by Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ

I believe the power of fasting as it relates to prayer is the spiritual atomic bomb that our Lord has given us to destroy the strongholds of evil and usher in a great revival and spiritual harvest around the world.

Increasingly I have been gripped with a growing sense of urgency to call upon God to send revival to our beloved country. In the spring and summer of 1994, I had a growing conviction that God wanted me to fast and pray for forty days for revival in America and for the fulfillment of the Great Commission in obedience to our Lord’s command.

At first I questioned, “Is this truly God’s call for me?” Forty days was a long time to go without solid food. But with each passing day, His call grew stronger and more clear. Finally, I was convinced. God was calling me to fast, and He would not make such a call without a specific reason or purpose. With this conviction, I entered my fast with excitement and expectancy mounting in my heart, praying, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”

I believe such a long fast was a sovereign call of God because of the magnitude of the sins of America and of the Church. The Lord impressed that upon my heart, as well as the urgent need to help accelerate the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation.

As I began my fast, I was not sure I could continue for forty days. But my confidence was in the Lord to help me. Each day His presence encouraged me to continue. The longer I fasted, the more I sensed the presence of the Lord. The Holy Spirit refreshed my soul and spirit, and I experienced the joy of the Lord as seldom before. Biblical truths leaped at me from the pages of God’s Word. My faith soared as I humbled myself and cried out to God and rejoiced in His presence.

This proved to be the most important forty days of my life. As I waited upon the Lord, the Holy Spirit gave me the assurance that America and much of the world will, before the end of the year 2000, experience a great spiritual awakening. This divine visit from heaven will kindle the greatest spiritual harvest in the history of the Church. But before God comes in revival power, the Holy Spirit will call millions of God’s people to repent, fast, and pray in the spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

The scope of this revival depends on how believers in America and the rest of the world respond to this call. I have spent fifty years studying God’s Word and listening to His voice, and His message could not have been more clear.

This handy reference guide, Seven Basic Steps to Successful Fasting and Prayer, will help make your time with the Lord more spiritually rewarding. I encourage you to keep it with you during your fast and refer to it often because it gives easy-to-follow suggestions on how to begin your fast, what to do while you fast, and how to end your fast properly.

During my forty-day fast, God impressed me to pray that two million Christians in North America will fast for forty days by the end of the year 2000, and pray for national and worldwide revival and for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Prayerfully consider this challenge.

Before you fast, I encourage you to read my book, The Coming Revival: America’s Call to Fast, Pray, and “Seek God’s Face.” It will help equip you for the coming spiritual awakening.