Are you hoping for a spiritual breakthrough? Here are 10 Fasting and Prayer Scriptures to deep dive into what the Bible says about fasting and prayer.
My daily commute to work each day takes about thirty-five minutes. I go through two small towns with hardly any traffic and the rest of the way is a two lane back road. That easy commute is a blessing in itself after spending most of my life fighting city traffic. But more importantly it provides a perfect quiet time that I can spend alone with God in prayer. Some days all I can do is praise him. Some days I can say nothing but lay my burdens at his feet. The best days though are when I come to God just to rest in Him and listen.
With all the advantages my back road commute provides there are some disadvantages. Those roads are the lowest priority on the state’s maintenance list. In one particular section the pavement was cracking up so badly it seemed it would rattle my old truck to pieces, interrupting my prayer time. I recall a few weeks ago after passing over the roughest spot I resumed my prayer by lightheartedly asking God to arrange for the state to repave that section. Two weeks later on my way home the paving crew was there repairing the two worst sections in the southbound lane.
Although I had forgotten my prayer God had not. He had promptly set things in motion to answer my lighthearted prayer so that evening I was sure to thank him. On my way to work the next morning I discovered that although the cracks were filled and the road was repaved, it was still just as rough as before. Since it’s a low traffic back road the repair crew didn’t spend any extra time smoothing out the new asphalt. Lord, what are you trying to tell me here? He was quick to answer this time. The road is now safe, no cracks or holes that can allow the road to wash away. He promises us a safe journey in this life and a sure destination. He does not promise a comfortable ride.
What Does the Bible Say About Fasting and Prayer?
The act of prayer is woven throughout the entire Bible. It began in the first chapter of Genesis when God first spoke to Adam in verse 28. Prayer is simply talking to God and listening for His voice. It is no different than having a conversation with a friend, except this friend knows exactly what is in your heart. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that we should “Pray without ceasing.” That doesn’t mean we should spend the whole day on our knees. We just need to be in a constant state of readiness for a conversation with God so that we can follow his will every step of the way.
Types of Fasting in the Bible
There are many accounts of fasting and prayer in the Bible but God only required Israel to fast on one day per year. In Leviticus 16:29 we read:
“And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you:”
The phrase “afflict your souls” refers to fasting. This type of fasting is the highest form of honoring God as it is an act of reverence. It is not a pleading prayer but a listening prayer. This fasting was designed to eliminate all distractions so the children of Israel could hear and understand God’s voice.
Fasting the Wrong Way
Isaiah chapter 58 gives us the account of Israel falling into habit of routine worship. They began to question why God wasn’t blessing them for their worship. “Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ they asked. We can find the same fault in many churches today. We attend every service, sing the hymns, pay our tithes, listen to the preacher, and then wonder why God doesn’t bless us. God’s answer to Israel is same as it is to us.:
“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” Isaiah 58:6-7
If we say we love God then he expects us to be salt and light out in the world not just inside the church building.
What is the Right Way to Fast?
Jesus explains the correct way to fast when He says:
“Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” Matthew 6:16-18
A Christian should never allow his service for God to appear as a tiresome chore and that definitely includes his prayer life. We have a hope in Christ that brings us an everlasting joy and that is what the world needs to see.
Why is Fasting and Prayer so Powerful?
Adding days of fasting to our normal prayer time brings a higher level of intimacy with God. Fasting helps to curb the distractions that always seem to pop up when we try to pray. It let’s God know that we acknowledge his sovereignty and we are trusting Him to answer our prayer. We can never be closer to God while on this earth than when we come to Him in a fasting prayer. Jesus confirmed the power of fasting and prayer to His disciples after He had cast out the dumb and deaf spirit.
“And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:29
How Do I Start Fasting and Prayer?
Several years ago the church I was attending planned a youth centered revival meeting. Our pastor encouraged the church to begin forty days of fasting and prayer before the meeting so that we might see God’s powerful work in the lives of the teenagers and young adults in the community. Fasting doesn’t necessarily have to mean giving up food but can be anything we are dependent on.
Forty days seemed like an enormous commitment to me but I decided to give it a try. I gave up coffee and soft drinks which at the time was all I drank. Water and one glass of tea per day would be my liquid intake for forty days. I committed the time when I usually drank my morning coffee to prayer for the youth meeting. The majority of the church members also committed to the fast. I don’t recall the exact numbers but the meeting lasted several days beyond what was planned and dozens more souls were added to God’s kingdom than we asked for.
Fasting isn’t a complicated procedure. Fasting is simply praying earnestly with our whole heart while relinquishing the priority of our comfort. It can last one day, forty days, or any time period in between. You must have a specific reason to fast, such as the salvation of a loved one or some personal circumstance. Name that reason each time you pray.
No matter what the answer is from God, you must commit yourself to content with His answer. King David fasted and begged God for seven days to let his sick child live. But when the child died on the seventh day he got up, washed, put on clean clothes and went into the house of the LORD and worshipped. When asked about his actions he answered in 2 Samuel 12:22-23.
“And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”
Regardless of the outcome you will be drawn into a closer intimacy with your heavenly Father.
When Should I Fast?
In the Old Testament we can read that God’s people would many times proclaim a fast whenever they had a great fear of an enemy or were about to undergo a risky task. In the case of the Ninevites we see that fasting can also be an outward sign of repentance. Fasting with prayer can insure us that we are in God’s will when our way is uncertain.
“And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” 2 Chronicles 20:3
“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.” Ezra 8:21
“Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord, Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come. ” Joel 1:14-15
“So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” Jonah 3:5
Most importantly, pray believing that God will hear and answer. I promise you that God will give you a reason to praise Him.
Fasting In The Bible
For even more insights into what the Bible says about fasting and prayer, the following beginners guide to fasting and prayer alongside Anchored: A Woman’s Guide to Steadfast Prayer are wonderful resources to further deep dive into the topic. Do you have a favorite book on the topic of fasting and prayer? Drop them in the comments below and let us know what you love most about the book. I can’t wait to check out your suggestions and add a few to my reading list.
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