Day 2 Focus – Prayer

Fasting sets the table for a spiritual feast worked out in prayer

Prayer & Fasting: What's the Connection?

Acts 14: 23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. (NIV)

Daniel 9:3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. (NIV)

Acts 13:3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. (NIV)

Ezra 8:23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

Fasting has been a huge trend in recent years in the health and nutrition realm. It isn’t unusual to see people on social media touting the benefits of intermittent fasting for weight loss. In that case, separated into a physical and mental pursuit of submitting the body to not eating during certain times of day, or a day of the week, fasting becomes a means to an end; disciplining the body in order to see a reduction in body size. Whereas, there could be some physical benefit for some from this practice, it lacks the relationship and spiritual component of the fasting that we see repeatedly referenced in the Bible.

As can be seen in the Scriptures above, the Bible inextricably connects fasting with prayer. There is a response from us, out of our relationship with God, to set aside food and other distractions for a time in order to commune with, or cry out, or grieve before, or petition Him, or simply seek His face. Fasting sets the table, if you will, for a time of “feasting” wherein our sustenance is not physical food, but spiritual. It is derived from having uninterrupted/undivided attention that we are able to give to bowing in prayer before our Heavenly Father.

Fasting is a physical discipline, no doubt, but more importantly a spiritual one. It is not meant to be a rote, “means to an end” type of discipline, where the chief end is to just have denied yourself food, done your duty, and then you get a pat on the head for good behavior. It is meant to call you into a deeper relationship with your Heavenly Father by setting aside time with him in a more intentional way.

You may hope that the time spent before him in prayer (in the place of eating or whatever else you may set aside) will bring forth an answer, or wisdom, or even see God move in a situation about which you’ve been petitioning him. This is not an unrealistic desire, but resist the urge to see your fast as the formula for getting a particular result. Our Father loves us. He does answer prayer! His heart for us in the place of fasting and prayer is that we would draw near and know him more intimately. Then as we pray, we pray in accordance with His will and His heart. We become more conformed to the image of Christ. This is why prayer and fasting go hand in hand together for us as followers of Christ. This is the heart motivation that will make our fasting and praying time different than ever before, and far different from just a weight loss discipline or dutiful spiritual practice!