How does prayer and fasting work together?

Question: “How do prayer and fasting work together and how may fasting improve the results of prayer?”

Bible Answers

Fasting has nearly been lost to the modern church but the Lord never did away with fasting. Fasting is still used of God to bring us into kingdom living. Fasting is a way of submitting our desire unto the Lord through voluntary abstinence from eating. Fasting manifests spiritual results. When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men 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 (Matthew 6:16-18).

Jesus, by fasting, set an example that we might follow in His steps (Matthew 4:1-4).  This Scripture shows us that the Lord drank water but did not eat food, for it says that after forty days he was hungry. The normal fast is without food, drinking water only.

There are also absolute fasts recorded in the Bible. Upon Saul’s conversion in Acts 9:9, he immediately went on an absolute fast for three days, having neither food nor water. The body can go for a number of days without food, but cannot go for long without water.

By fasting, we are saying that my spirit will rule over my soul. Because many have never denied their appetite, they are in bondage to their flesh.  The Lord wants us to be ruled by the Spirit, not by our flesh. It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).

Isaiah 58:6 gives direction to fasting:  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 you break every yoke? Fasting is to make Satan turn loose of the things he is holding and brings us closer to God.  Fasting is an important key to getting the victory over hard situations that do not seem to respond to normal prayer.  Apparently a three-day fast will break most addictions.

And fasting makes it easier to hear the voice of God.  As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away (Acts 13:2-3).

Fasting provides more uninterrupted time with the Lord. As we minister unto the Lord, our spirit draws closer to Him. John’s disciples often fast and pray (Luke 5:33). Fasting directs our attention to God.

Fasting makes Satan turn loose of what he is holding back, that which rightfully belongs to us.  Jesus died so we could have His blessings.  They belong to us as His children. However, we must press in and demand that the enemy release some things. Sometimes Satan still controls territory in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Fasting is a key that breaks loose the bands of wickedness. As we fast and pray, Satan must let go. However, this kind [demon] does not go out except by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21).

Fasting can open the spiritual gate to finances, giving to those in need, breaking the bondage of sin in love ones, healing, ministry and the promise Then shall the light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily: and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your reward (Isaiah 58:8). As we fast, we need to ask the Lord to do a work of cleansing in our lives.

Besides improving spiritually, regular fasting detoxifies our body of unnatural elements found in our modern diet, improves health, and makes us look younger.  Great benefits have been derived from fasting one day a week.

Types of fasts:

  1. Normal Fast – No food, only water.
  2. Absolute Fast – Absolutely no food or water (Should not be more than 3 days and only then if you have a clear directive from the Lord and are in good health).
  3. Juice Fast – Fruit and vegetable juices only.  
  4. Partial Fast – Abstinence from certain kinds of foods (i.e.: No meat or sweets, soup only, fruit and vegetables only, etc.). Partial fasts are more common to meet needs of medical conditions.

Typical Jewish Fasting Period

Began at 6:00 P.M. in the evening and ended the next day at 6:00 P.M.

Before a fast

Before you start a fast, write down those things you desire from the Lord and you will find that the fast will be more joyful.  

Starting a fast

  1. The last meal or two before a fast should be roughage like cabbage and other vegetables and you should have smaller meals to prepare yourself.
  2. Start the fast with repenting of all sin and unforgiveness.
  3. Ask the Lord to bless and guide your fast, and to minimize hunger, cold, and to energize you.

When to fast

We need to be attuned to the Holy Spirit as to when fasting is needed. We also fast when we are seeking from the Lord. Fasting is done to bring spiritual results, physical healing, answers to prayers, God’s direction, deliverance from Satan’s bonds, relief for friends and loved ones, and finances.

Length of a fast

The Lord did not specify a specific duration that we are to fast, but from scripture, we can see that he did expect us to fast. And he said unto them, Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast, while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days (Luke 5:34-35).  We need to be led of the Lord regarding the type and length of a fast.  A fasting can be for one day, three days, a week or for however long God leads, or however long it takes to get the answer you are seeking.

How is time spent during a fast

God called us to fast and pray, not fast and work, nor fast and play.  While we may still have responsibilities, we need to set as much time aside as possible to be with the Lord in prayer. Along with giving up food, we should also give up pleasures, such as entertainment, TV, hobbies and sex (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). Before a fast and after prayer, commit to how long the fast is to be and then keep your commitment. Fasting calls for us to spend the time we normally spend on eating to spend it in prayer, worship, and reading the Word.

Breaking a fast  

When it is time to break a fast, it is very important, even for a one-day fast, to start slowly, maybe with a little chicken soup, some vegetables, and lots of water.  Give your body time to adjust back to food.

Fasting is a wonderful way to draw closer to the Lord, but be wise. Do not have a long fast if you are not physically able or on medication without seeing your doctor unless you are absolutely sure the Lord is directing you.

The main principles of fasting are to follow God’s calling, to loose Satan’s bands of wickedness, to complete your commitment in private, and to spend your time with the Lord, drawing closer to Him.

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