Developing Commitment: Prayer and Fasting

by APC on January 21, 2016

As we continue to delve further into the components of discipleship and spiritual commitment, we should become acquainted with the concepts of prayer and fasting. Both elements are much more than talking to God for a few minutes a day and “giving up” something for a period of time.

Prayer

Prayer is one of the best kept secrets in the world. The more we pray, the more we will understand it. Prayer isn’t making deals, missing dilemmas, a “protocol,” or a means by which we “make wishes” to God. Prayer is communication with God, and it is essential in a successful relationship with Him.

Communication is not one-sided, and neither is prayer. We can speak to God in prayer, but other times He wants us to listen! Prayer will grow us in relationship with God. And, while it starts focused on us, it will transform into being about Him and His kingdom. We need to learn to seek after Him and pray for His will—praying in the Holy Ghost will help us pray what God wants and not what we want.

Encouragement to Pray

God hears our prayers! If we are righteous (Proverbs 15:29) and call upon Him in truth (Psalms 145:18), He will listen to us. One reason we feel Jesus when we pray is to encourage us to keep praying! Scripture encourages us to continue in prayer (Romans 12:12; Colossians 4:1–2) because there are many benefits to us as well as others (James 5:16).

Prayer will strengthen us and our walk with God in His kingdom. The closer we draw to Him the more we realize how we need the strength He provides to us through prayer. Our prayers can also change the landscape around us for ourselves and others (Isaiah 38:1–5). Our prayers can move God!

Approach Prayer with the Right Attitude

Our goal in prayer is to do it reverently and in secret with God (Matthew 6:5–8). Jesus gave us the master key to revival: effectual, fervent prayer. We need to be real, relaxed, relational, and revealing in our prayers.

From the Heart

Our prayers need to be simple and from the heart. But, we can’t pray the right things from the heart if our heart (spirit) isn’t right (Matthew 15:8). When we search for God with all of our heart, and with the right heart, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).

In a Humble Manner

We cannot exalt ourselves when we pray, but approach God knowing that He is able to do all things and we cannot. We need to know that we aren’t perfect and still need to work on us. Effectual prayer begins where we end and God begins—we need to die out to ourselves and be meek before God (Luke 18:10–14). We need to pray knowing it isn’t about us so we can produce fruit in the kingdom of God.

Follow the Prayer Model

Jesus gave us a model for prayer in Matthew 6:9–13, which is known as the Lord’s prayer. Jesus told His disciples, “this, then, is how you should pray…” (Matthew 6:9, NIV).

7 Parts of Prayer

Praise

We need to start our prayer by expressing our love to God. There are 2 kinds of praise: worship (praising God for who He is) and thanksgiving (praising God for what He has done) (Psalms 100:4). We can praise God for His many attributes found throughout Scripture (e.g., patient, merciful, kind, etc.). God answers prayers that acknowledge who He is! We can also praise God in the promises He has for us declared in His Word as well as the blessings we have in our life.

Purpose

We need to commit ourselves to doing God’s will. We should pray His kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. Prayers should align everything in life (e.g., family, church, ministry, job, etc.) with God’s will. We need to seek His counsel in every area of our lives!

Provision

While prayer should be more focused on others, we should ask for God to provide for our daily needs. We shouldn’t worry about anything, but ask God to take care of it and praise Him for what He will do (Philippians 4:6). God will supply all our need (Philippians 4:19) and will freely give us all things (Romans 8:32). We will not have provision if we don’t ask (James 4:2). Our prayers should be specific—write them down and expect an answer!

Pardon

We need to ask for forgiveness in our prayer time. The Holy Spirit can reveal our sin (Psalms 139:23–24) so we can confess each sin specifically (Proverbs 28:13), make restitution to others when necessary (Matthew 5:23–24), and by faith, accept God’s forgiveness (I John 1:9).

People

Pray for other people! We are called to make supplications, prayers, and intercession for all men (I Timothy 2:1). We will be blessed when we pray for others (Job 42:10)—these blessings are even double from when we just pray for ourselves!

Making a prayer list of others to pray for is a good prayer resource. It can include family, friends, church leadership, missionaries, etc. Our prayers for others will produce miracles in their life (Acts 12:5–7). Miracles and signs will follow those who pray effectually.

Protection

We should pray for spiritual protection from the enemy and ourselves. We can fall prey to temptation and fear. But, when we pray for protection, God will give us the power and confidence to face every situation and to become overcomers! Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (I John 4:4).

Praise

Our prayer should always end the way we begin—with praise. We praise Him for what He will and is able to do!

Fasting

In Scripture, the disciples were not able to cast out a spirit from a child. When they asked why they were unable to do so, Jesus said, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:25–29, KJV). There is power associated through the combination of prayer and fasting.

Benefits of Fasting

The purpose of fasting is to bring our flesh into obedience with the will and voice of God. We will have a greater spiritual sensitivity to hear the voice of God when our “flesh” doesn’t get in the way. Prayer also builds up spiritual authority. As in the case of Jesus’ disciples, they were unable to conquer the enemy by themselves. Fasting helps us find a gateway into the power and presence of God, and once activated in our life can attack the strongholds in our life as well as others!

A Process

Like prayer, fasting is a process. We shouldn’t start a 21 day fast when we haven’t fasted 1 day. We need to first understand the purpose of fasting before we fast. Then, we can start to build up our fasting life as we feel led by the Holy Ghost.

Biblical fasting is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose. There are different types of fasts. We can fast:

  • From sunrise to sunset
  • Daily meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • The Daniel fast (Daniel 10)
  • The Esther fast: 3 days without food and water (Esther 4)
  •  Juice fast (only liquids)

And, when we fast, we should supplement the lack of food with prayer—this is why prayer and fasting goes hand-in-hand. While we abstain from one element of our life, we replace it with prayer and fill up on the truth, power, and strength the Lord has in store for us.

We have no idea how many lives we will change if we lay hold onto the concept of prayer and fasting. And, while we are impacting others, we will continue to grow in our own spiritual discipleship with the Lord.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on January 20, 2016 with Guest Speaker, Sister Naomi Fisher