Early in my faith, I felt that Christianity was a list of rules I could never follow. The abundant life Jesus promised in Matthew 9:14-15 always felt out of reach. So imagine my surprise when I experienced the power of prayer and fasting in my early 20’s and saw real breakthroughs!
What Is the Power Of Prayer and Fasting?
In college, I heard a message entitled, ‘The Power of Prayer and Fasting: God’s Gateway to Spiritual Breakthroughs.’ After teaching, the preacher challenged us to practice a time of fasting. Wow! God showed up in a way I didn’t think He still worked in the 21st Century.
He answered a question I had been asking Him for years in prayer and drew near to me in a way I could physically feel. To this day I can look back at that experience as the catalyst for all the change in me that followed.
But what is the power of prayer and fasting? To get to the heart of this we have to answer some preliminary questions.
What is Fasting in the Bible?
Medically, fasting is about going without food for a predetermined amount of time, however, Spiritual fasting goes deeper than food.
“Fasting – Spiritual fasting – is a Biblical principle, a Spiritual discipline of setting aside something you seek for earthly satisfaction, to spend more time being satisfied by God.” – A Beginners Guide to Pray and Fast: Taking Spiritual Warfare to the Next Level
Biblical fasting can mean giving up food for a meal, but it could also be giving up other things that you seek for satisfaction.
Why Do We Fast When Praying?
We add fasting to prayer when prayer alone isn’t enough. When you have been praying without answers or what you are asking feels bigger than you, you fast. In the Bible, we see fasting and prayer for breakthrough in several areas.
- Personal breakthrough (Nehemiah 1:1-4)
- Group breakthrough (Esther 4:16)
- National breakthrough (Ezra 8:21-23)
In fact, I love using the books of Esther, Nehemiah, and Ezra as a fasting and prayer guide because they used this Spiritual discipline in easy to follow ways. More than that, God moved when they humbled themselves before Him in prayer and fasting. We need God to move in those ways in our world today and I believe if God’s people would begin to fast and pray we would see miraculous change.
Why Prayer and Fasting are Important To Christians?
The people of God experience miracles through fasting and prayer that they would otherwise miss. Prayer and fasting are a way to humble ourselves which helps us draw nearer to God.
It is hard to humble ourselves on our own. It is harder still to draw near to God in this fast-paced world. Fasting is important to Christians because it accomplishes both.
Why is fasting important to God?
One of the main benefits of fasting and prayer is nearness to God. God draws near to the humble (James 4:6). When we are in a posture of humility God speaks to us, answers prayers, reveals sin, convicts us, encourages us and so much more.
Fasting is a discipline we have lost touch with, but it is important to God because God longs for all of those things to be part of our daily lives as His disciples.
Types of Fasting in the Bible
There are more than 9 types of fasting in the Bible, but the most commonly practiced today are below:
- The 40-Day Fast
- A Complete Fast
- The Partial Fast
- The Daniel Fast
- Esther’s Fast
- The Passover Fast
- Group Fasting
- Isolation Fasting
- None-Food Fasts (from oils, meats, sex, unholy things)
We learn from the fact that there are so many types of spiritual fasting, that the power behind fasting is not about the rules as much as seeking God’s heart in humility.
Fasting and Prayer Scriptures
There are many fasting and prayer scriptures that help us understand the power behind this spiritual discipline. However, of all that I have studied, there are two Bible verses about the power of fasting that help guide my practice.
The first verse, spoken by Jesus is why I believe fasting is a must for all believers.
“Then the disciples of John *came to Him, asking, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:14-15 NASB emphasis mine)
The second scripture on prayer and fasting shows us that fasting is to be done in secret.
““Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18 NASB emphasis mine)
The power of prayer and fasting can be seen in many other bible verses. There are 27 more fasting and prayer scriptures here.
Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement
““This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work—whether native-born or a foreigner residing among you—” Leviticus 16:29 NIV
““On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the Lord.” Leviticus 23:27 NASB
Yom Kippur is observed in the Jewish culture with 25-hours of fasting and intensive prayer. This is the holiest day of the year in Judaism where they focus on atonement and repentance.
Yom Kippur is only one of many days of fasting that the Jewish people still observe as they follow the example set by the patriarchs of our faith. It would be wise for us to join them in this Spiritual discipline.
Will You Unleash the Power of Prayer and Fasting in Your Life?
Over the years, through the power of prayer and fasting God has broken the chains of sin in my life and set me free from many things. Not only have I found personal freedom, but I have also truly met with God, gotten to know Him more intimately, and developed a personal relationship with him that is deeper than I ever dreamed possible.
Through fasting, our church has found healing from hurts that went deeper than we knew, seen revival spark and spread throughout our city, and more.
Adding fasting to your prayer life brings blessings and freedom. Will you begin to practice this Spiritual Discipline today?
How To Plan A Time of Fasting
Getting started with a time of fasting is as simple as 1-2-3.
- Pray about what to give up and for how long.
- Set aside a verse or passage to meditate on while fasting.
- Make a plan for how to stick with the fast when temptation comes.
You can do this. God honors our attempts to grow nearer to Him. Learn more about how to fast and pray in a way that pleases God here.