The mere mention of fasting and prayer can actually strike fear in our heart. The thought of denying ourselves sounds harsh and begins the conversation of whether or not fasting is even for our present day. If God never changes and if Scripture is the inherent word of God, we have to consider that Jesus said “When you fast” not “If you fast”. You see, that is where my friend Wendy and I stopped dead in our tracks. The “When” got us; that and the fact that we felt something was missing.
We weren’t satisfied with “comfortable” Christianity. We wanted to sacrifice, to delve so much deeper into this relationship we have with the God of the universe. So despite our love of nachos and all things chocolate, we drove in one day a week as partners in the spiritual discipline of prayer and fasting.
It is now thirteen years later from the time we started on this journey. Honestly, I have to say we missed some weeks during our commitment, but just like the gracious Lord we serve, mercy was shown to one another. That was just one of the wonderful things about this “fasting friendship”. Other aspects included the ability to be vulnerable with each other, the trust we had for one another, and that nothing was held up to any standard of judgement. We prayed for each other’s requests with the same passion as we prayed for our own, and when life’s trials were so hard that they left us on the floor in tears, unable to utter the words of our own prayer, we would pray for the one who couldn’t.
Through fasting and prayer, a sisterhood was formed and a deeper intimacy was found with our Heavenly Father. We are hooked…for we have seen the benefit and the growth this process has brought us. Best of all, Jesus is truly our first love and we look forward to our fasting days with excited expectation. We have learned so much and we want to share this good news with you!
Let’s talk about seven ways fasting and prayer can change our lives:
1. Fasting and prayer can help us hear from God — Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
For those of you who truly know Jesus, how could you ever resist that appeal? You have been invited to “call” to Him in prayer. His word says that He will tell us things we don’t know, which is very helpful in point #2! If you want deeper intimacy with God then we highly recommend you enter into a sacrificial space in time where you seek Him like never before.
2. Fasting and prayer can reveal our hidden sin — Jeremiah 16:17 (NIV)
“My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes.”
God can see our sins like a flashing neon sign. Nothing is hidden from His sight. We have found that the harder sins to acknowledge are often the hidden ones, especially when they involve our motives and attitudes.
When we fast and pray, we are taking time away from a meal or an activity to devote our entire being to focus on God. We find we are more sensitive to the voice of God, more attuned to hearing what He has to reveal to us. Gently, God whispers in our mind what we were really thinking at the time of our sin, what our true intent was and we are shocked…momentarily.
Then, like a light turned on in a pitch black room, we see it. We did mean harm. We were manipulative. Even though our recognition makes us want to hide our face, our loving Savior lifts our chin to look into his forgiving eyes. As we repent, we no longer want to hide, but rather praise and worship the very One who confronted our wrong.
3. Fasting and prayer can strengthen intimacy with God — Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
As we remain consistent in prayer and fasting, we will develop a craving for more quiet, alone time with our heavenly Father. Psalms 42:1 says, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God”. Fasting and prayer is a great catalyst to create an insatiable hunger for God’s presence and bring us into a place of deep intimacy with our Lord.
4. Fasting and prayer can teach us to pray with right motives — James 4:3 (NIV)
“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives,
that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
The more we focus on our prayer time, and press in with heightened sensitivity through the sacrifice of fasting, our will aligns with God’s. No longer are we praying with wrong motives, but we are petitioning the Lord with a heart of worship, gratitude and a concern for things outside of ourselves.
5. Fasting and prayer can build our faith — Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him
must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
God says He will answer our prayer. As we have fasted, he has bolstered our faith by answering incredible requests with much affirmation. He has also built our faith by helping us trust when He says no. Whatever the answer, we have learned that we can believe God knows best. Our reward is the peace that comes from being fully surrendered to God’s control over our lives.
6. Fasting and prayer can make us more compassionate towards others — Isaiah 58: 6&7 (NIV)
“Is this not the kind of fast I have chosen; to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
As I was approaching the last couple of hours of my fast one day, I suddenly became ravenous. I found myself thinking, “You’d only be quitting a couple of hours early…who would know…what’s two hours?” As I got up and started to walk towards the kitchen, I heard the voice of my Savior saying “there are people in the world who don’t have the option to go to their cupboards and find food”. This broke my heart. How often do I think about the hungry? How often do you? Instead of breaking my fast early, I completed my fast by praying for people in need, asking God to help me be proactive about helping to supply those needs.
7. Fasting and prayer can teach us self-control — Titus 2: 11&12 (NIV)
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.”
It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. We are a quick-gratification culture. Fast food, high speed internet and overnight delivery. We are not accustomed to waiting for anything, much less denying ourselves. Sacrifice teaches us self-control. When we have to resist the urge for a quick fix to our desire, hunger or even a basic need, we learn not to give up. We hold on; we persevere.
Self-control, learned through fasting, can pour over into many areas in our lives. As this forms us more in the image of Christ, we become more like Jesus, which is God’s will is for us. We have come to know God like never before. His grace amazes us in that He would call us into this sacrificial relationship where we gain infinitely more than we give up.
God has changed our lives through prayer and fasting—are you ready for Him to change yours?
To learn more about Suzanne Niles and Wendy Simpson Little’s new book, please visit Fast Friends
Are you ready to draw closer to God in a new way? Authors Suzanne Niles and Wendy Simpson Little can help you go deeper in your faith than ever before!
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