FASTING AND PRAYER; THE FOOD FOR HUNGER
I have heard people say that they cannot afford to fast. If they say that out from a genuine medical reason, that is acceptable. However, in my several decades of Pastoring and observing congregational fasts, I have heard testimonies of members who had ailments like abdominal ulcers healed by fasting and prayer. It is so easy to give reasons not to fast, yet fasting is inevitable for a child of God.
I once read an inspiring testimony from a book titled “THE FASTING EDGE” by Jentezen Franklin. It goes thus:
“I know a few guys who actually would have been fined thousands of dollars if they fasted. One year in Free Chapel, as the time for our annual fast (21 days) was drawing near, I was approached by a few of the Atlanta Falcon Football players who are part of the Free Chapel congregation. They wanted to tell me that they were committing to fast and seek God for seven days. You need to understand that these are very very big guys who would actually be penalized if they lost weight, regardless of the reason behind the loss. Choosing to fast presented a serious dilemma for them, but they were determined. They are NFL football players, and their weight and physical condition are part of the price. They really touched my heart!’’
Hunger is a strong and compelling desire for something. Many people do not have any problem in figuring out how or when to eat because as adults, they know when they are hungry and they eat because they can recognize physical hunger.
Apart from the physical hunger, there is a hunger called “the spiritual hunger”. This hunger can only be satisfied with fasting and prayer. This type of hunger comes in different ways and at different times.
As a child of God, you need to recognize a hunger when it is spiritual so that you can separate yourself to Fast and Pray.
Let’s see a few examples of people who had spiritual hunger in the Scriptures:
- JESUS CHRIST:
Jesus Christ gathered His disciples, gave them power to heal sicknesses and cast out devils (Mark 3:15). Shortly after, a certain man who had a child that was possessed with a deaf and dumb spirit and was greatly tormented went to the disciples and asked them to cast out the devils from his son but they could not – Mark 9:17-29. The disciples being confident that they were empowered to cast out demons prayed but nothing happened. Feeling frustrated, the man took his son and was about leaving when he saw Jesus coming down from the mount of transfiguration. The man told Jesus about his predicament and Jesus asked him to bring his son. He cast out the deaf and dumb spirit and the boy was delivered. After the incidence, the disciples felt more hunger and strong desire to know why they could not cast out the demons from the boy. The Bible says that they complained to Jesus saying, “Why were we not able to deliver that child even after the power you have bestowed on us? What could be the cause of this and what is the solution to it?”
Note here that if there wasn’t a deep hunger in them, they wouldn’t have bothered to know why they could not perform the deliverance because Jesus had already removed that shame from them. But there was something in them that needed an answer. “And he said unto them, This kind cannot go out except by Prayer and Fasting”.
Reading through the whole account, you will realize that after the disciples were empowered by Jesus, there was no record to show that they fasted. The disciples didn’t know that despite the fact that Jesus had given them power, they needed to activate the power by fasting. The power we have as children of God can only be activated by Fasting and Prayer. For Christ, He had paid the price by fasting for 40 days and nights.
Fasting and Prayer is like your ATM card which must first be activated before it can be used to access funds even when your account is funded.
Fasting and Prayer gives us the ability and power to use the authority which we have in Christ. It activates the power in us so that we can exercise it.
“Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. and they said to me, the remnants that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem is also broken down and the gates there of are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words that I sat down and wept and mourned certain days and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:2-4).
150 years before the period of Nehemiah, the Assyrians had conquered the northern tribes of Israel and the Babylonians had taken Judah and Jerusalem which were reduced to ruins. As a matter of fact, there were only few families left. At that time, Nehemiah was in Shushan working with the king in the palace as the cup bearer but his heart never left Jerusalem.
His brother paid him a visit one day, and Nehemiah asked him about what was going on in Jerusalem. His brother told him about the state of Jerusalem and how it was left in ruins. When Nehemiah heard that, he sat down, wept and mourned.
There is a certain bad news which one hears and will almost collapse. Such news could make one weep and even mourn for days. At such times, don’t just remain in the state of mourning and grief but take the next step which is to Fast and Pray. The reason is that, that is the food for that hunger.
Let us consider this:
If with the recent happenings in Nigeria, God woke you up in the middle of the night and asked you to prepare to go to Benue State to restore sanity there and put an end to the atrocities committed by the Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram, I am sure you will bind and rebuke God because it is a deadly task. You will clearly say, “Satan, I bind you”.
Nehemiah had the same task. It was a deadly mission yet against all odds, he fulfilled his mission because he sought the face of the Lord in fasting and prayer (vs. 5). He knew the right food for that particular hunger and God answered his prayers and restored Jerusalem.
‘’So, the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days” (Nehemiah 6:15).
Your own assignment may not be to restore and rebuild city walls, but it could be a dream that God has put in your heart, it could be a business, a family matter, a ministry, a project etc. That hunger can only be satisfied with Fasting and Prayer. May God give you the discretion, direction and provision to accomplish whatever task that is ahead of you. Every time you have something ahead of you and you have the hunger to accomplish and actualize it, what you need to do is fast and pray. You should never get tired of praying because you must surely see the manifestation.
Jehoshaphat was informed that a great multitude from the children of Moab, Ammon and Mount Seir had gathered against him and knowing that his army could not stand against the armies of one of the three countries least of all face the three, Jehoshaphat was greatly afraid. In that state of fear, he set his face to seek the Lord in fasting and prayer (II Chronicle 20:1-5).
The word of the Lord then came to him, “All Judah and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you king Jehoshaphat, thus says the Lord unto you, be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s”
Is there something scaring and terrifying you? What you need is Fasting and Prayer. If you have ever been tormented by the spirit of fear, you will know that fear is a terrible thing. Before something can make you afraid, that thing must be bigger than you and be beyond your strength otherwise there will be no need for you to be afraid. What you need to do at such a time of fear is to fast and pray so that God can intervene and set you free.
In verse 22, the Bible says that when they began to sing and praise the Lord, He sent ambushment against the children of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir. What was against Jehoshaphat was exactly what brought fear to the enemies and they were smitten. With God’s intervention, the place which was supposed to be the valley of the dead bodies of the Israelites became the valley of abundance and blessings for them. That valley is now known as “the valley of Beracah”.
If Jehoshaphat had not waited on the Lord with Fasting and Prayer, if he had been engrossed with fear, he and his people would have been killed. But because he sought the Lord in Fasting and Prayer, God turned the situation around.
Ezra needed to embark on a particular journey but the only route to pass through was a very dangerous one. He became so afraid that he decided to seek the face of God in Fasting and Prayer for direction on how to go about it. The reason was that he was very concerned about the little children and the substances he was taking along to Jerusalem. However, God turned a dangerous route to a safe route and they all got to their destination safely because of Fasting and prayer – Ezra 8:21-22.
Are you confused about the way to go? Fasting and prayer is the answer. Every time you seek the Lord in Fasting and Prayer, your solution is guaranteed.
The Jews were under a serious threat of complete extermination. Haman planned to wipe out Israel completely from the face of the earth. He manipulated the king into making a decree specifying that on the 13th day of the 12th month, Israel would be wiped out and such decree was an irreversible one. But Esther called for fasting and prayer, and God intervened by turning everything around thereby making an irreversible decree to become reversed. God turned their curse into a blessing. The day that was meant to be a day of sadness and sorrow for the Jews became a day of so much joy and feasting that, that day became a memorable one up till today. The reason is that someone dared to Fast and Pray. (Esther 3:13, Esther 4:16, 8:7, 15).
What is that thing that you think is irreversible? Fast and pray today concerning it and God Himself will not only reverse it but He will turn it from a curse to a blessing for you.
A church can call on you to fast and pray. That is all right because you are under one corporate anointing but it is important for you to have a spiritual discipline and hunger for fasting and prayer. This is because nothing else will satisfy you at that time. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit can urge you to fast and pray about a thing because no fasting and prayer just comes and goes like that without being rewarded even in the Bible.
One thing you should know about fasting and prayer is that it does not expires! The fasting and prayer you are embarking on now will only remind God of those prayers that have stored up which need answers. That is why when He begins to deliver the answers to you, you will not even remember that you have once prayed for something like that.
Isaiah 58:6 says, “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?’’
Anytime you sense the bonds of the wicked against your life, family, marriage, job, etc., know that God has chosen a fast for you. So, all you need to do at that time is to fast and pray so that you can loose every bond of the wicked, undo heavy burdens and to break every yoke.
One beautiful thing you must understand about fasting is that it is an exercise that is not futile. It is a sacrifice that can never go in vain.
Fasting goes along with prayer. If you are fasting and you are not praying then you are simply on hunger strike or embarking on a diet.
CHOOSE TO FAST AND PRAY TODAY! FASTING AND PRAYER IS NOT A FUTILE EXERCISE BUT IT PAYS A GREAT DEAL!