Importance Of Fasting And Prayer As Christians From The Bible
One of the most important practices in the Christian religion is fasting. It is a well-kept secret because Jesus Himself, after being baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River and receiving the spectacular revelation from Heaven by the Holy Spirit that He pleased God, engaged in a 40-day fast in the desert before beginning His earthly ministry.
The adversary of our souls makes every effort to prevent us from comprehending and engaging in the practice of fasting and prayer. You already know the answer if you were wondering why this should be the case. Satan is aware that if we practice discipline as an integral part of our spiritual journey, we will possess spiritual strength. If we want to successfully live out our religion and claim to be disciples of Jesus, we must in some way exercise the spiritual discipline of fasting. The early church kept up its regular practice of fasting and prayer even after Jesus ascended to heaven.
To Accompany Grief In Personal Or Corporate Loss
In Nehemiah 1:14, we are told that Nehemiah hears of the destruction of Jerusalem. In deep grief over the loss of the city, he enters a time of weeping, mourning, fasting, and prayer. Daniel, grieving the Babylonian captivity that he and his friends were experiencing, calls upon the Lord through fasting and begs God for restoration . When Daniel is thrown into the lions den, King Darius is very disturbed and fasts and stays awake all night, anticipating Daniels fate .
Fast For Intimacy With God Not Praise From Man
When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 1so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
As Christians, our intentions matter. Our faith takes life to a level unseen. It is possible to do everything right on the outside, but without the proper heart, it doesnt serve its purpose.
Fasting is one of those things.
If you are fasting to be seen by others as a good Christian,youre doing it wrong.
If youre fasting with a heart that can only focus on the things you lack and not a hunger that drives you into the arms of your Savior to satisfy your needs, youre doing it wrong.
Dont fast for attention, recognition, or the sake of not-so-silent suffering through the 40 days of Lent.
Fast to draw nearer to God and rely on Him on deeper levels than you have before.
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Why Do We Fast What Is The Purpose Of Fasting
Fasting is an ancient practice. We believe it must have existed among believers from the very beginning. The purposes of fasting include:
Developing spiritual strength, including resisting temptation.
Developing self-mastery, making our spirits masters of our bodies.
Obtaining spiritual knowledge and testimony.
Obtaining spiritual guidance.
Helping the needy.
As President Russell M. Nelson has taught: âFasting helps your spirit to develop dominance over your physical appetites. Fasting also increases your access to heavenâs help, as it intensifies your prayersâ .
In addition, the law of the fast also has the purpose of helping those in need . Today, we are asked to skip two meals and give an offering of at least the value of those meals. Our generous fast offerings go directly to helping the poor and needy, and we are blessed as well.
As President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency has taught, âIn Church we are invited to help Him as He cares for the poor in His way, and â¦ He promises everlasting blessings will come from our helping Himâ .
To learn more about fasting, see Gospel Topics, âFasting and Fast Offerings,â topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org Bible Dictionary, âFasts.â
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To Receive Power For Ministry
There is a power thats available to serve Christ far beyond what we can do in the flesh. It is one of the major keys to effective, biblical ministry. Paul, in Ephesians 3:16, prays that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being. We must understand that either we choose to minister in the flesh through our own abilities and our own strength, or we choose to minister through the impacting influence of the Holy Spirit. While effective planning, good strategy, and careful analysis are important, they are secondary to the impact of the Holy Spirit and His presence.
Paul teaches us further in 2 Corinthians 3:5, Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. Again, in 2 Corinthians 4:7, he says, But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
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New Wine Into New Wineskins
Then Johns disciples came and asked him, How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?Jesus answered, How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them then they will fast.No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.
The entire purpose of the disciples and the Pharisees fasting was to show a longing for the day God would show up and show favor to Israel again.
But Jesus was right there with them! There was no need for fasting at that moment.
But immediately afterward, Jesus said, the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them then they will fast.
He wasnt putting an end to all fasting.
He specifically said the time to fast would be coming again!
But now, our fasting isnt filled with mourning as it was for the Pharisees. Instead, its filled with longing because we know Jesus came and will come again!
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Why Do Christians Fast What Does Biblical Fasting Accomplish
Biblical fasting is not a hunger strike between you and God. It can be easy to think of fasting as a way to add an extra oomph to your prayers. But biblical fasting isnt so much about how God responds to your prayers: its more about how you bring your prayers to Him.
God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble . Fasting is a means of humbling ourselves before God. In the Old Testament, fasting was often accompanied by other signs of humility and brokenness, such as weeping, mourning, and lamenting, as well as wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes.
Bill Bright, Crus co-founder, made it his practice to fast and pray. He believed it played a vital role in what God did through him and through Cru as a ministry. He listed several benefits he gained from fasting:
- Fasting is a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God. King David said, I humbled myself with fasting .
- Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance and a transformed life.
- Your confidence and faith in God will be strengthened. You will feel mentally, spiritually and physically refreshed.
Its important to understand that fasting is not a way to get a better response to prayer. Rather, true fasting is a means of fostering a better approach to prayer.
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Hebrew Words For Fasting
When thinking of fasting, most Jewish people today will automatically think of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This is the first vague reference to fasting in the Bible. I say vague, because it doesnt actually say fast. The Law required the people of Israel to afflict themselves as they sought a clean slate for a new year . One easy way to obey that command is to go without food and water for a while, and so that is what happens each year to this day. God is close to the broken and lowly in spirit and fasting demonstrates a humble heart of repentance and submission to God.But the first time that the actual word for fast appears is in the book of Judges 20:19-28 in a time of severe crisis. The mess begins in chapter 17, when a man lies and steals from his mother, who then blesses him instead of correcting him. Things rapidly go from bad to worse, and sin wildly spins out of control, escalating into the most awful story of gang rape in the Bible. These events led to bitter fighting between the tribes, and an entire tribe is almost wiped out as a result. It is in this context that the people of Israel added fasting to their supplications, sensing that a major upgrade in prayer power was needed. It worked.
Why Fast And The Benefits Of Biblical Fasting
There are many reasons why you might want to practice fasting. All have a focus on creating intimacy with God through recognizing our dependence on Him.
2. Spiritual strength against a spiritual attack by the enemy.
3. To break free from the bondage of sin or demonic activity. .
4. To help us hear the voice of God
5. To focus on prayer and help us pray with the right heart and motivation.
6. To awaken a spiritual hunger for God.
7. To allow God to reveal what desires and temptations we have allowed to control us.
8. To temporarily give up good things to make room for things are even better.
9. To reveal sin that we might not be actively aware of.
10. To demonstrate to God that our love and desire for Him is greater than any earthly thing.
11. To increase our intimacy with Him.
12. To intervene in prayer on behalf of others.
13. To ask God for healing for ourselves or others.
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. Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off..
So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty..
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Why Fasting In The Bible When Devastating Grief Worry Anxiety Or Fear Hover Over Your Mind And Heart Like A Dark Cloud Or When Deep Loss Becomes Part Of Your Journey Turning To The Lord In Fasting And Prayer Can Be One Of Your Best First Moves
When devastating grief, worry, anxiety, or fear hover over your mind and heart like a dark cloud, or when deep loss becomes part of your journey, turning to the Lord in fasting and prayer can be one of your best first moves. Suffering has a way of focusing our experiences, thinking, and priorities. Turning to the Lord through the fast is what we need to do.
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Why Should You Fast
According to Dr. Bill Bright, who produced a guide to fasting for cru.org, there are a number of reasons why the practice of fasting can be spiritually beneficial.
- Fasting is biblical. We see examples of biblical fasting in the lives of figures like Moses, Jesus, and King David.
- Fasting and prayer can restore or strengthen your intimacy with God. Many longtime Christians find that fasting helps them rediscover their first love for God again.
- Fasting is a way to humble yourself in the sight of God . King David said, I humbled my soul with fasting . You may find yourself relying on God more fully for strength when you fast.
- Fasting and prayer can help us hear God more clearly. To listen to God as you fast, consider combining a time of fasting with a practice of listening prayer. Together, fasting and prayer can transform your prayer life into a richer and more personal experience of God.
- Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition. When you see your own brokenness more clearly, youre able to move toward repentance.
- When you experience revival in your own life through fasting, the grace and love of God can shine through you into the lives of others.
Do Christians Need To Fast
Fasting might sound sensational today. But in Jesus culture, it was weird for a religious person not to fast.
The disciples of John the Baptist, an important prophet who prepared the way for Jesus ministry, often fasted. So did the Pharisees, a group of religious leaders who opposed Jesus teachings and conspired to kill Him!
During Jesus earthly ministry, His followers didnt fast. But Jesus assumed they would fast after he returned to the Father . In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives His followers instructions on how to fast, specifically telling them not to make a show of fasting like others in their culture .
Jesus may not have commanded his followers to fast, but He expected them to.
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Spiritual Fasting Opens Our Heart To Hearing Gods Voice
When we fast, there is almost nothing distracting us from hearing Gods voice. We have emptied ourselves of our most basic need so we can put our full attention on God. This is the best time to make those difficult choices in life.
When we are at a crossroads and dont know which way to turn, fasting helps us to hear Gods direction. As we walk in the Spirit, we wont be hung up by the desires of our flesh trying to hold us down and keep us off course.
We will be able to hear more clearly from God when our spirit is stronger than our flesh.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh .
The Purpose Of Fasting According To The Bible
The purpose of fasting according to the Bible is to draw closer to God and to demonstrate a commitment to Him. Fasting can be used as a means of seeking Gods guidance, expressing sorrow for sins, expressing repentance or petitioning God. In many cases, fasting is done in order to humble oneself befre God and seek His favor. The Bible speaks of fasting in both Old and New Testaments, with several passages emphasizing its importance.
The Old Testament mentions fasting in several contexts, including: mourning , repentance , prayer , seeking divine guidance and humbling oneself before God .
In the New Testament, Jesus Himself is recorded as having fasted for forty days and nights during His temptation in the wilderness . In addition, He taught His disciples about fasting in Matthew 6. Jesus said that when somone fasts they must do so in secret and not for show. He also said that when someone fasts their Father who sees what is done in secret will reward them.
In summary, the purpose of fasting according to the Bible is to draw closer to God and demonstrate a commitment to Him by humbling oneself before Him, seeking His guidance, expressing sorrow or repentance for sins or petitioning Him.
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