Much discussion has revolved around the practice of fasting with prayer to humble oneself before God and receive answers otherwise unobtainable. Jesus said there were some problems that could not be solved and some questions that would not be answered without prayer and fasting. When the disciples were unable to help a tormented, demon possessed boy, Jesus replied and said this kind of life issue could not be dealt with except through fasting and prayer (Matthew 17:21). The books of Daniel, Isaiah and Ezra give us some insight about the importance of this spiritual practice and why it is so important. After 21 days of fasting, Daniel learned:
1. Prayer and fasting gets heaven’s attention and sensitizes our inner person to be able to hear from God. v.11 He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.”
2. Prayer and fasting ignites spiritual warfare invisible to us and prepares the way for breakthrough. v.12 Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way.
3. Prayer and fasting allows me to participate in the future, worldwide plan of God. v.14 “ Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”
4. Prayer and fasting isn’t just for ministers but for those working in everyday life. Daniel was a government official who understood his influence in a secular culture.
When Isaiah was sent to show the people of Israel the proper way to fast, he taught that:
5. Prayer and fasting breaks demonic strongholds. Isaiah 58:6 “Is this not the fast I have chosen? To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free and that you break every yoke?”
6. Prayer and fasting fills us with the compassion of Christ and opens our eyes to the needs around us. v.7 “ Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?”
7. Prayer and fasting brings healing and opens the heavens for answered prayer. v.8 “Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you. The Glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” “Then you shall call and the Lord will answer, you shall cry and He will say- Here I am.”
8. Prayer and fasting helps me to stop evaluating others and speak right words. v.9 “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
9. Prayer and fasting helps us restore people’s lives and become a builder of the churches and communities where we live. v.12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
10. Prayer and fasting helps us understand the value of a day set apart each week for corporate fellowship and worship. v.13 “If you call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor him, not doing our own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
When Ezra the scribe headed back to Jerusalem to be part of the restoration of the exiles, he understood:
11. Prayer and fasting prepares the way for the next generation to know God. Ezra 8:21 “I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children…”
Our culture is quickly headed down a path of moral, financial and spiritual destruction. For those who are serious about personal, local, regional and national awakening, God has given to us the way of prayer and fasting, to make an investment in the lives of people and allow the power of Jesus to transform us one more time. This is serious – Let’s get to it.