The Power of Fasting & Prayer: Part 1

The Didache, is a first or second century document that relates to us outside the New Testament of the teaching of the early church. This document “prescribed two fast days a week: Wednesday and Friday.” For early Christians, this was seen as a regular part of daily discipleship. John Wesley sought to revive the teaching of the Didache and urged early Methodists to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. He felt so strongly about this matter that he refused to ordain anyone to the Methodist ministry who did not fast on those two days.
Matthew Henry said, “Fasting is a laudable practice and we have reason to lament that it is generally neglected among Christians.”

Joel 2:15 Blow the [a]trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly;


Biblical fasting is abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. Simply going without meals for medical reasons or physical fitness reasons is not Biblical fasting. There must be a spiritual motivation to qualify a fast as Biblical. Fasting is a holy habit that disciplines our flesh by abstaining from natural pleasures for a selected period while focusing on a deeper relationship with God. Fasting without prayer and Bible study is nothing more than an extreme diet.


The practice of fasting is found throughout Scripture. Therefore, when we participate in Biblical fasting, we are in very good company!


Esther, Mordecai, and the Jews fasted upon hearing the news of Haman’s wicked plot for their extermination.

Esther 4:3 And in every province where the king’s command and decree arrived, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.


Nehemiah fasted before receiving permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 1:4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.


Jesus fasted following His baptism and before He began His public ministry.

Luke 4:1-2 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days, He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.


Jesus instructed and expected His disciples to fast.

Matthew 6:16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.”


The early church fasted while worshipping and committing their ministry to the Lord.

Acts 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”


The early church also fasted as they sought the Lord for guidance and confirmation during the appointment of church leaders.

Acts 14:23 So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.


One of the keys to personal renewal, fruitful recovery, and overall effectiveness in life is fasting with prayer. When the early Church in the Book of Acts wanted to see people saved and lives changed, they fasted. When they wanted to minister to the needs of people with the Lord’s power and provision, they fasted. When they need God to show up in a miraculous way to meet their needs and the needs of others, they fasted. When they faced personal or corporate challenges, hardships, and/or persecution, they fasted. And today, over 2,000 years later, fasting with prayer remains a key Christian competency for experiencing uncommon experiences with the Lord and provisions from the Lord.


I often say, the early church did so much with so little while the church today does so little with so much. What is the difference? If contemporary Christians want to see what the church in Acts saw, we must be willing to do and sacrifice what they did. The church of today enjoys feasting much more than fasting…  but as Adrian Rogers once said, “Christians need to spend more time in the Upper Room than in the supper room”.


Allow me to outline some of the benefits of fasting and prayer:

1- Fasting enables us to humble ourselves before God so that God can use us in dynamic ways.

2 Chronicles 7:14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.


2- Fasting is a means by which a believer brings his/her body into submission to God’s will.

1 Corinthians 9:27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.


3- Fasting changes a person, not God. God doesn’t need to change but we sure do.

Malachi 3:6 “For I am the Lord, I do not change.”


4- Fasting breaks down the barriers in a person’s carnal nature that stand in the way of the Holy Spirit’s control over his/her life.

Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,


5- Fasting intensifies prayer and enables the believer to become more effective in hearing from the Lord.

Daniel 9:1-3 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.


6- Fasting unleashes spiritual strength against the enemy’s attacks as well as granting Christians greater ministry effectiveness.

Mark 9:28-29 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer [a]and fasting.”


7- Fasting empowers the believer to obtain deliverance, spiritual breakthroughs, answers in prayer and victory in life.

Isaiah 58:6 “Is this not the fast that 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?”


Warning! The Bible provides warnings against the wrong ways to fast.


1- Don’t fast to be seen by others. John Piper has a helpful teaching point regarding this, “the critical issue is not whether people know you are fasting but whether you want them to know so that you can bask in their admiration.”

Matthew 6:17-18 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.


2- Don’t fast to feel justified by God or more righteous before Him.

Luke 18:9-14 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be [a]humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”


3- Don’t fast to be commended by God. Fasting does not cause us to “earn” something from God, but it helps us to be more receptive to what God wants to do in and through us to accomplish His awesome purpose.

1 Corinthians 8:8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.


In next week’s installment of “Find Your Why with Pastor D”, I will bring to you the second part of this blog post The Power of Fasting and Prayer- part #2. We will learn about the different types of fasts as well as many helpful hints and tips for fasting.
I will be calling TMC to a corporate a 12-hour fast on Friday, August 11th from 10am to 10pm. This fast will take place during our monthly Unceasing Prayer initiative. If you are interested in knowing more about this opportunity or would like to participate, please contact me at

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