A Call to Prayer & Fasting

February 9, 2014

As part of our RE:NEW commitment services and our Solemn Assembly this Sunday, Pastor Dan has challenged us to fast and pray that day until after the Solemn Assembly is over. The following are a few thoughts that may help guide you if you are unfamiliar with the biblical discipline of fasting.

What fasting is:

  • Fasting is abstaining from food for the purpose of intensifying our prayer. By fasting with prayer, we humble ourselves to pray in a way that recognizes that God is all we need and He is what we are most desperate for.

What fasting is not:

  • Fasting is not a condemnation of good things. It simply turns one’s eyes to the giver of good things for a specific time and purpose.

  • Fasting is not a way to pay for sin or to manipulate God. Professor and author Dr. Donald Whitney says, “Notice that none of the purposes is to earn God’s favor. We cannot use fasting as a way to impress God and earn his acceptance. We are made acceptable to God through the work of Christ Jesus, not our work. Fasting has no eternal benefit for us until we have come to God through repentance and faith.”

What fasting is used for in Scripture:

Dr. Donald Whitney suggests these biblical reasons for fasting in his book Biblical Disciplines of the Christian Life.

  1. To strengthen prayer:  Acts 13:1-4.  The church at Antioch

  2. To seek God’s guidance:  Acts 14:13. Paul and Barnabas would pray and fast before appointing elders in the churches they founded.

  3. To express grief:  2 Samuel 1:11-12. David and his men fasted and mourned upon hearing of the Philistines’ defeat of Saul and Jonathan.

  4. To seek deliverance or protection:  Ezra 8:23. Ezra and the exiles were seeking God’s protection on their journey back to Jerusalem.

  5. To express repentance and return to God:  Joel 2:12 “’Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’”

  6. To humble oneself before God:  Psalm 35:13. David humbled himself by fasting and putting on sackcloth.

  7. To express concern for the Work of God:  Daniel 9:3. Daniel was burdened for the return of the exiles and restoration of Jerusalem.

  8. To minister to the needs of others:  Isaiah 58:6-7. Fasting isn’t introspective or selfish. People with the right motivation do justice, feed the hungry, etc.

  9. To overcome temptation and dedicate yourself to God:  Matthew 4:1-11. Jesus’ fast before he faced Satan’s temptations.

  10. To express love and worship to God:   Luke 2:37. Anna in the temple.

What if I can’t fast from food for medical reasons?

While the primary picture of fasting in Scripture is fasting from food, sometimes fasting from food may be physically dangerous. For example if you are diabetic, nursing or need to take food with medicine, a total food fast may be dangerous. As an alternative, consider fasting from TV, social media, or some other regular activity that may hinder you seeking the Lord in prayer with all your heart.