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Benefits Of Prayer And Fasting

Introduction

The benefits of prayer and fasting cannot be fully grasped in this present reality. There are countless enormous spiritual benefits that cannot be quantified when we engage in fasting and prayer.

What happens when fasting and praying is beyond the façade and more deepened in the spiritual, so we are limited by words and imagination to explain or describe the benefits of fasting and prayer adequately.

Throughout history, people of faith have turned to fasting and prayer as powerful tools for spiritual growth and seeking God’s presence. While often practiced separately, these disciplines hold a profound synergy, amplifying their individual impact when combined.

People often did fasting and prayer in Biblical times in response to something. Hence there are so many benefits of prayer and fasting and a purpose beyond us.

What Is Fasting?

Fasting in itself means abstinence from food, both in the secular and the religious sense and the Biblical aspect in the Old and the New Testament. The Hebrew and Greek words used for fasting mean the same thing: not eat.

Fasting is a voluntary act, a time to abstain from food and other pleasures of life, humble oneself and come to God. But to take it a step further, fasting is a way of life in that it is more than just abstaining from food alone.

But also abstaining from things that feed and keep the desires of our flesh alive and active. Colossians 3: 5 (NIV) “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

So fasting is a lifestyle of abstaining from excessive material pleasures, things that excite our canal nature and makes it to desires to engage in sin, remember, the Bible also says, “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1Thesselonians 5: 22 KJV).

The practice of fasting and prayer is unique to each individual. There’s no set formula for fasting duration or content. The key is to approach it with a genuine desire to draw closer to God and seek His guidance.

Before embarking on a fast, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional and ensure it aligns with your physical well-being. Additionally, seeking spiritual guidance from a religious leader or trusted mentor can be valuable.

Remember, fasting and prayer are not about coercion or manipulation. They are tools for cultivating a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God, finding solace in His presence, and experiencing spiritual transformation.

What Is Prayer?

Prayer, the act of communication with God, is vital for any spiritual journey. Through prayer, we:

Express our gratitude and praise: “Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.” (Psalm 95:2)

Confess our sins and seek forgiveness: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Offer our petitions and requests: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

Listen for God’s guidance and direction: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10)

For prayer, we all know how vital prayer is to the believer. As a matter of truth, prayer is at the top of the believer’s core crucial spiritual need list.

Prayer means going into the throne room of the Almighty God, who is the Supreme Sovereign ruler and creator of all in existence, to dialogue, commune, and present our petition and summiting to His will.

At the place of prayer, we must always submit to God’s will and purpose. Hence prayer is not a means for us to get God to do what we want or desire but a place to submit our will to God’s will.

To take it further, we have seen that in prayer, we come into the throne of God to submit to His will, and the Bible says ‘our body is the temple of God’ (c. f. 1Corinthians 6: 19); hence God resides in us in the person of the Holy Spirit.

Then we should lead a life in constant communion with God, recognizing that God lives in us, so we should always submit to His will for His glory to be seen through us. The Bible says to let your light so shine before men that they may see you and glorify God (c.f. Matthew 5: 16).

Fasting and Prayer: A Powerful Union

When combined, fasting and prayer create a potent spiritual cocktail. The physical sacrifice of fasting amplifies the sincerity of our prayers, while the focused attention nurtured by fasting opens us to a deeper connection with God in prayer.

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Jesus’ 40-day fast before His ministry: After being baptized, Jesus embarked on a 40-day fast in the wilderness, a period of preparation and spiritual strengthening before embarking on His public ministry (Matthew 4:1-11).

Esther’s fast for God’s intervention: Queen Esther fasted along with her people before approaching the king with a plea to save them from destruction (Esther 4:16-17).

The early church’s practice of fasting and prayer: The Acts of the Apostles depicts fasting and prayer as integral practices of the early church community (Acts 13:2-3).

So fasting and prayer as a Christian practice mean a time to humble oneself and abstain from food and other material pleasures of life, go into the throne room of the Almighty God to engage in communing with Him, and submit to His will.

Fasting and prayer as a lifestyle are to abstain from things that excite our canal nature and submit to God’s perfect will.

 Benefits Of Prayer And Fasting 

1. Fasting And Prayer Foster Spiritual Disciplines

As a Christian living in today’s world that is full of distraction and so many things that excite our emotions and our carnal nature, it will take a highly personal intensive discipline to voluntary set aside a time to abstain from food and other pleasures of life, to come in humility to seek God’s face.

If this is constantly done as a routine, it will foster and nurture spiritual discipline. Hence this is one of the benefits of fasting and prayer.

To live a life abstaining from things that fuel material lust and regular commune with God and summiting to His will helps us to nurture spiritual discipline.

2. It Energizes, Vitalizes, And Edifies Our Spirit

The Bible says in Galatians 5: 17 (NIV), “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other so that you do not do what you want.”

The Bible stated here that our carnal nature is in contrast to what the Spirit wants, and it always wants to control us to get involved in sin.

But engaging in fasting and prayer, either as Christian practices or as a lifestyle, helps us put our mind and canal nature under subjection, which means we have self-control, manifesting the Spirit’s fruit.

And when this is constantly done, it keeps our Spirit lively and muscled up, ever ready to do God’s will, and this is one of the benefits of fasting and prayer.

3. It Boosts And Grows Our Intimacy With God

Intimacy with God means having a close relationship with God. To have a close relationship with God, we must learn to voluntarily discipline ourselves to stay away from things that excite the canal nature, material pleasures of life that can cause us to sin, and set out time and occasions to commune with God.

And to take it further, we should not just do it occasionally, but it should be a part of our lifestyle. This is precisely what fasting and prayer do, so constantly getting involved in the practice of fasting and prayer and living the lifestyle will help to improve our relationship with God; hence this becomes one of the benefits of fasting and prayer.

4. It Helps Us To Stay Deeply Rooted In Christ

To be deeply rooted in Christ is to put the foundation of our trust, hope, and faith in Christ. It is to live a lifestyle that says Christ or never. It is dependent on Christ to see us through our pilgrim journey here.

When we forsake worldly pleasures to humbly seek God in fasting and prayer, either as a lifestyle or a Christian practice, this is an expression of total dependence on God, and it means we have forsaken the ways of the world to put our trust, hope, and faith in Christ.

To be more precise, it is only when we depend on Christ we can entirely forsake worldly pleasures. It is vice versa; to be deeply rooted in Christ is to leave worldly pleasures, and forsake worldly pleasures is to be deeply rooted in Christ, and it is one of the benefits of fasting and prayer.

5. We Die To Self And Come Alive In The Spirit

When you don’t feed any living thing, it dies. That’s what fasting and prayer do to the flesh. It starves the flesh and gives life to the Spirit.

When we engage in fasting and prayer with the right intention and proper knowledge of what it is, we gradually become separated from our selfish desires, and we gain a height in our spiritual growth and insight because we are in constant continuous communion with God, always summiting to His will and purpose.

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We begin to lose the sense of desiring and loving the things our flesh desire and become more conformed to the Spirit, desiring and loving the things of the Spirit’s desires.

This is one of the reasons why fasting and prayer as a Christian practice that we occasionally engage in or as a lifestyle becomes a part of us is so important.

Galatians 5: 16 (NIV) “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Fasting and prayer as a lifestyle is also a spiritual thing, and it is a way to discipline the flesh and live by the Spirit.

6. Fasting And Prayer Draw Us Closer To God

God draws us closer to Himself (John 6: 44), and God is ever-present. He stays closer to us, but we constantly move back and forth. For us to remain in that position, we must live by the Spirit to manifest the fruit of the Spirit.

Fasting and prayer are a means by which we can discipline our carnal nature so that we can come humbly to God’s throne to be a part of His will and purpose, for God’s glory to be seen through us, and this in itself is living by the Spirit. So engaging in fasting and prayer helps us to be self-disciplined to walk by the Spirit and remain in the position.

7. Fasting And Prayer Help Us Not To Be Too Attached To The World

Off course, we are in the world, but we are not of the world. This means we don’t follow the precepts and lifestyle of the world, and we are not bound to follow the ways and customs of the world.

We are a Heavenly society, and our culture and lifestyle come from Heaven, so as it is, the Bible says in 1John 2: 5 (NIV), “Do not love the world or anything in the world…” we are not to love or be too attached to the world.

Fasting and prayer as a lifestyle or a Christian practice fashions our mindset and repositions our thinking and focus to Christ. We lose every sense of attachment to the world because worldly pleasures will no longer fascinate us.

8. Fasting And Prayer Make Us More Sensitive To Sin

One of the benefits of fasting and prayer is that we become sensitive to sin; this is because when we engage in fasting and prayer either as Christian practice or as a lifestyle keeps you closer to God because it makes you be on a close walk with the Spirit (Galatians 5: 16), to discipline your canal nature to remain in that position.

When we become closer to God, we become sensitive to the Spirit. We become fully intone with the Spirit and spiritual matters, making us more susceptible to sin than ever because we become aware of every little thing that matters. Because our lifestyle is off the charts on the worldly standard, we understand the depth of sin and become sensitive to sin.

9. Fasting And Prayer Open Up A New Desire For God

There is no end to the spiritual journey and walk with God, and there is no time or point where we say we have come to a place or a position of satisfaction when it comes to the knowledge and intimacy with God.

The more we get closer the God, the more we desire to know God. We can’t get to the point of complete satisfaction, we can get to the end of total growth, and it’s an eternal journey till we bow out of this life.

So when we engage in fasting and prayer, there is this little sense of satisfaction it gives us because we have spent time communing with God. But at every point, we get a sense of pride.

It breaks open to a fresh new desire and hunger for God because we can never be delighted. Hence fasting and prayer open up a fresh new passion for God, which makes this one of the benefits of fasting and prayer.

10. Fasting And Prayer Give Us An Understanding Of God’s Word

I’ve been in a situation when I was deeply concerned with understanding a particular passage of scriptures so much that I was lost in my studies, and I forgot to eat for almost a whole day.

All I wanted was to understand that text truly, and I was so occupied by the idea of me understanding the reader so much that I lost an appetite for food. And God always comes through for me because it brings me into a new realm of understanding God’s word.

In Daniel 9: 2 – 3 (NIV), ‘In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.

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So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.’ Daniel was so worried and wanted to understand what he had read so much that he engaged in fasting and prayer, and in verse 24 of Daniel 9, God gave him the revelation of His word that he sought. So fasting and prayer also help us to understand God’s word.

Why Is Fasting And Prayer So Powerful?

Some people have asked me on several occasions why is fasting and prayer so powerful? Fasting and prayer is so powerful because of the place of prayer.

We have tremendous results because God answers prayers, so it is the place of prayer that makes it beneficial and not fasting in it.

So whenever we think of engaging in fasting, we should also see it as a time to engage in intense communion with God through prayer.

Although, as earlier seen that it is a lifestyle that goes beyond a time and a place to engage in an act, whenever we discipline ourselves to abstain from food and other material pleasures so that we can have an intense concentration to engage in communion with God, we should be serious about it and lay more emphasis on word studies and prayer so that we can fast and pray out of an understanding of the word of God like Daniel did in Daniel 9: 2 (NIV) ‘…Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet….’

Do Fasting And Prayer Work?

One may ask, does fasting and prayer work, the answer is fasting, and prayer does work. On most occasions, they meet their purposes when done for the right intention and purpose.

As we shall see from two different scriptural passages (though we have a thorn of them) how some persons engaged in fasting and prayer and got results.

The first person is Daniel; in Daniel 9, when Daniel discovered the prophecy of Jeremiah through the books, he was so bothered that he went into fasting and prayer for weeks. Then in verse 21 of Daniel 9, he received answers to his prayers.

Secondly, if you read the book of Jonah, in Jonah 3, preach to the people of Nineveh, proclaiming God’s judgment on them if they don’t repent and stop their wickedness.

The Bible says the King called a fast on the entire Kingdom, including their animals. They all fasted and cried to God, and God forgave them their sins.

On a personal note, in my Christian walk with God, I’ve been in puzzled and confusing circumstances where I’ll feel so concerned that I don’t feel like eating.

Nevertheless, I engage in fasting and prayer, and I get a great result at the end of the day. So I can say with complete confidence that fasting and prayer work.

What The Bible Says About Fasting In Secret?

In Matthew 6: 16 (NIV), ‘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, and they have received their reward in full.’ When you read through this verse, you will see that Christ warned against making a show when fasting and praying.

He said we shouldn’t do it and try to gain attention from men to be commended else; that commendation or attention becomes our reward. But whenever we are fasting and praying, it is to be done in secret, it says ‘…and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you’ Matthew 6:18 (NIV).

Additional Bible Verses On Benefits Of Prayer And Fasting

  • Acts 14:23;13:3–4
  • Luke 2:37
  • Nehemiah 1:4
  • Psalm 35:13–14;69:10
  • Daniel 9:3–5;10:3
  • Ezra 8:21–23,
  • Jonah 3:5–9
  • 2nd Samuel 12:6;12:15–17,1:12
  • 1st Samuel 7:6
  • Joel 2:12–13
  • 1st Corinthian 7:5
  • Esther 4: 16
Conclusion

The practice of fasting and prayer is unique to each individual. There’s no set formula for fasting duration or content. The key is to approach it with a genuine desire to draw closer to God and seek His guidance.

Before embarking on a fast, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional and ensure it aligns with your physical well-being. Additionally, seeking spiritual guidance from a religious leader or trusted mentor can be valuable.

Remember, fasting and prayer are not about coercion or manipulation. They are tools for cultivating a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God, finding solace in His presence, and experiencing spiritual transformation.

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