Fasting and Prayer

Our congregation is going through a forty day fast, wherein church members are encouraged to participate in scheduled prayer topics and fasts from certain things.

Some of the suggested fasts are fasting from social media, fasting from sarcasm or negative talk, and fasting from the news.

Also on the schedule is fasting from food for one meal or during daylight hours.

I think all of the above are worthy and beneficial, but I would like to talk about fasting in the traditional sense.

Have you ever fasted from all food for more than 24 hours for the express purpose of prayer? If you haven’t, you are definitely missing an opportunity to draw near to God. As a bonus, James 4:8 tells us that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us!

Jesus said in Matthew 6, “When you fast…”, not if, but when, as if he expected his followers to do so.

When I am not pregnant or nursing, as is the case now, I have found it a huge blessing to plan and dedicate times of fasting and prayer.

When I am fasting for several days from food, I am reminded in a very physical way (stomach growling, weakness) multiple times, even hourly, throughout each day that I have a maker who provides for my needs daily.

When I feel hungry, but I continue fasting, I am reminded to be thankful for delicious foods and the ability to enjoy them.

Denying myself the comfort and sustenance of food for a time reminds me to praise God for even small blessings that we take for granted every day.

Each time I feel hunger, I remember to pray for those on my prayer list: 2 baby boys in Africa, starving in an orphanage and waiting to come to their new home in Texas, hopefully very soon; a teenage mother lost and alone in foster care; 2 families who found out last week that the father no longer has a job; a little girl named Nditenga; a deaf man wishing to worship in a hearing world; and more.

When I see everyone enjoying my favorite pizza and I want a bite, but I decline, I think of Jesus and the far greater sacrifice he made for us.

When I am weak from hunger, I must draw on strength from above, and I realize that “God is my refuge and STRENGTH,” (Psalm 46:1) and as little children often sing, “I am weak, but He is strong.”

It is so easy for adults to forget the weakness and vulnerability we experienced as little children. When we were very small, we accepted that we were powerless to care for our own needs, to drive where we needed to go, to even survive without someone caring for us. We grew up and found that we can care for ourselves, and sometimes we forget that we still have one who cares for us, without whom we would not survive.

Throughout each day, even when I am not fasting, I like to think that I am in constant prayer, that I have a running conversation going with my heavenly Father. But when I am fasting, I realize that I am in constant prayer at a much deeper level. Minute by minute, my growling stomach urges me to remember who it is that sustains me. I am constantly, constantly, in a powerful, physical way, reminded to turn to God.

I am no biblical scholar, but I know why fasting and prayer go hand in hand. Fasting makes me weak, needy, and powerless. Fasting makes Him strong, benevolent, and ever-present.

If you are a healthy person, not pregnant or nursing, not tempted by an eating disorder, I believe that you may find fasting beneficial to drawing you closer to God, too.

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Comments

  1. You said it well, Connie!

  2. You’re right, fasting was an assumed practice for Jesus. Jesus and his followers lived in a Jewish world, so the 24-hour fast of Yom Kippur was well known to all of them. And at least one Jewish ascetic sect of the time fasted every Sabbath, because they considered eating to be included in the definition of “work.”

  3. I have been drawn to this subject many times over the past few months. I would like to do a daylight fast, but have no idea the proper way to go about it doing so. Is there something you drink to keep your energy level at its peak?
    Tell me more about how you fast.

    • Smockity Frocks says:

      I have done it where I drink only water. VERY tough. I usually drink coffee, Dr. Pepper, lots of water, and V-8 if I feel I need it.

  4. I had never before truly considered fasting until a couple of weeks ago when I was watching a pastor on television talking about it. Since then it has been heavy on my heart and your post today kind of cemented it for me. As a previous poster asked, what do you drink during your fast? Any additonal details are appreciated!

  5. That was a beautiful post. It has been quite a while since I have fasted but I remember it being all of the things that you said. When I had a houseful of young kids, I would fast only lunch one day a week to pray for things that were heavy on my heart. It was nowhere close to the longer fasts that others were doing but it was still very powerful. Thank you for the encouragement!

  6. Good post! When Orthodox Christians fast we abstain from meat, dairy, eggs, oil, and alcohol. So we can still eat, but the idea is to eat simply to sustain life, rather than for pleasure! It also means you don’t have to spend so much time preparing and cooking food. As a family we try to fast over advent (which is hard as there’s so many Christmas parties!), and Lent (which is a stricter fast, but easier because lots of people give things up over Lent). Over Lent, we tend to have cereal (dry or with soya milk) for breakfast, the children have school lunch (tricky one for home-schoolers!) and I put the crockpot and bread machine on, and we have soup and bread for our evening meal (the adults main meal of the day).
    It’s important that children and nursing/pregnant women eat properly, also men who are operating heavy machinery/caring for the sick/driving long distances/etc.
    Also, we do try to fast from TV and chocolate over Lent. Which means that we REALLY appreciate our chocolate Easter eggs!

  7. This is the best post you’ve ever written. I enjoy your posts but this one on prayer and fasting is the best. It’s so true and as Christians we need to go deeper with The Lord. This will get us there. Fasting with Prayer accomplishes so much good. We need to do it often. There are so many different kinds of fasting. I’ve tried a few and keep doing the fast that best suits my lifestyle and my bodytype. It accomplishes awesome things in The Lord. Prayer is much deeper.

  8. Thank you so much for writing on a such a beautiful and rather controversial topic. I have done quite a bit of fasting for spiritual and health reasons. I rarely tell people that I fast because it’s often looked down upon even among religious people. I have done the Daniel Fast a few times, and I have completed many 24 hour distilled water fasts. I feel so wonderful after I fast. Many people think that if you fast, you are starving yourself and that nothing good can come of it. Fasting can help you to lose weight. Fasting is used for many natural cures. Fasting is also like pushing a reset button on homeostasis. There is a wonderful book called The Miracle of Fasting by Paul Bragg. This book is from the people that make Bragg’s vinegar. I definitely recommend that book to anyone who wants to try fasting! Thanks again for writing such a wonderful post!

  9. Just to share part of what my family does: my husband and I usually fast Mondays until dinner. Things we focus on for prayer are our children and ministry.

    This was an excellent post! Beautiful! So so true! Thank you for sharing your love for the Lord and some of the wisdom He has given you on this subject!

    Sisters who are wanting to fast: consider fasting for one meal or daylight hours. Some people drink juice periodically (like an 8 oz cup at meal times) and keep your water intake up! Praying for you who are wanting to take this step for the first time!

  10. Okay, the not pregnant or nursing part kind of got me because I’ve been doing one or the other almost constantly for 14 years. :) With that said, I really appreciate what you’ve said about fasting – unfortunately many Christians neglect this. It’s only in recent years the Lord has convicted me on this – but even with the pregnant/nursing issue I try to do this even on a half-day basis. It really focuses my mind on what God wants me to focus on. Thanks, Connie!

  11. As a nursing mother, I find that fasting from a treat (chocolate usually) is a good way to fast and still give my baby all that she needs. Thanks for this post; I needed to be reminded to press on.

  12. Just a heads up, I would strongly suggest that you remove some of the very personal information that you have on your sponsor child.

    Just glancing at her profile, I know her full name, her birth date, her ID number, and the exact town and country that that she lives in. Anyone could easily hop on a plane and reach her or her town. Child Exploitation is a huge problem and is a huge risk within child sponsorship models and thankfully World Vision doesn’t post full names and exact locations (publicly) on their website (unlike Compassion International).

    For more information on child security and privacy please go here:

    http://www.worldvision.org/content.nsf/sponsor/world-vision-child-protection

  13. How timely! Our church is in the last week of a 21 day fast. Even though I’ve been a Christian for 20 years, this is new to me because fasting was never talked about at our previous churches. Some resources our church recommends are 2 little inexpensive books by Derek Prince and 2 by Jentezen Franklin, which make fasting sound exciting, lol!

    We’ve been at this church for 4 years but I thought fasting wasn’t for me because of being pregnant/nursing all that time. This year I purposed to participate even if I can’t do a complete fast – I’m nursing an 11mo old. I considered the Daniel Fast (lots of info online) but it’s not that different from our regular eating. So I decided to fast lunches (but drink juice or V8). It works for me because after lunch I can lay down with the littlest ones for naptime and do some praying.

  14. I did my first fast today, but now it is 10:30 pm and I CAN’T SLEEP! I have so many things going on tomorrow that I need to be rested for. So I got up and had a bowl of cereal and 1/2 an avocado. Any tips on finishing a fast? (ie, the last part of sleeping!)

Trackbacks

  1. Q&A Time! says:

    [...] Well, I wouldn’t call it “skinny”, but I don’t always eat what I want to eat or as much as I want. I also practice prayer and fasting periodically. [...]

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