Praise, Prayer & Fasting

“Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21). Wow! I can remember one of the first times that this verse hit me – prayer and fasting? You can define fasting as doing without food for a designated time for spiritual purposes. The intent of this post is to get you to consider the spiritual discipline of fasting from time to time.

I thought only Jesus and few other biblical characters participated in fasting, but as I began to look through the Bible I found that many biblical characters practiced prayer and fasting. Men like Moses, Samuel, Jehoshaphat, Nehemiah, Paul, David, the Apostles, Ezra, Jesus, Elijah and Daniel; women like, Hannah, Esther and Anna. I was overwhelmed with the amount of people who practiced prayer and fasting. What you find when you read the Bible is that this is not a practice one must be “called” to do, but rather it is a spiritual discipline much like Bible reading, church attendance and praying are.

The Sermon on the Mount probably gives the most helpful teaching on assuming a Christian would practice this spiritual discipline. Jesus said in Matthew 6:2, “when thou doest thine alms,” in Matthew 6:5, “when thou prayest,” and in Matthew 6:16, “moreover, when ye fast”. In all three cases Jesus assumes of his audience that they would give, they would pray and that they would fast.

A few quotations for you to consider from Christians of the past:

Charles Spurgeon said, “Our seasons of fasting and prayer have been high days indeed. Never has heaven’s gate stood wider; never have our hearts been nearer the central glory.” Matthew Henry stated, “It (fasting) secures God’s power to assist us, it sharpens prayer, it demonstrates humility before God, it controls the body.” David Brainerd, the great missionary to the American Indians said, “Be as much in fasting and prayer as your health will allow, and live above the rate of common Christians.”

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