How to Fast and Pray

Fasting & Prayer
Prayer and Fasting

Fasting is something Jesus expects of his followers as an expression of our yearning for him to act. It is an intensified kind of prayer that expresses the urgency for the matters for which we pray.

David Mathis writes, "Fasting is voluntarily going without food — or any other regularly enjoyed good gift from God — for the sake of some spiritual purpose." In the Bible, fasting is primarily abstaining from food for a period of time in order to focus more on seeking God through prayer. We see that fasting should be a regular part of the Christian life when Jesus told his disciples, "when you fast..." (Matthew 6:16-18), implying that fasting is a matter of "when" not a matter of "if." He also says that his followers will fast in the days after he raises from the dead and ascends into heaven (i.e. in our days, Luke 5:33-35)

Public and Private Fasting

Fasting is sometimes done privately and at other times done publically. We see in the Bible times of national fasts (2 Chronicles 20:3) and churchwide fasts (Acts 13:1-3). For an unpacking of Acts 13, listen to my message on prayer and fasting titled, "Praying for God's Leading." I've also preached extensively on fasting in another sermon titled, "When Prayer Meets Fasting" if you want to hear more.

How to Fast

We desire that all in our church family will resolve to pray and fast a diferent times throughout the year. This, though, may look differently for everybody. Some may have health reasons why they shouldn't abstain from food. Others may find that abstaining from other enjoyments/distractions will prove beneficial in their pursuit of God. While we highly encourage absaining from food, here are several other ideas on how to fast:

  • Drink liquids only (pray during your normal meal times)
  • Eat only fruit and vegetables
  • Eat one meal a day focus on prayer instead
  • Don't eat from sun up to sun down (create a new rythm that doesn't revolve around food)
  • Abstain from Social Media and other forms of entertainment and use the time you gain for prayer
Fast with a Purpose

Ask, what are some primary prayer burdens that I carry as I fast? Perhaps it is praying for your home church, your purpose and calling in life, an important decision on the horizon, a wayward child, a family member who has rejected Jesus, a struggling marriage, national emergency, contentment amidst unmet desires, living with a greater missional urgency, healing, seeing a straying sister or brother come to repentance, for greater faith in your life, for a more vibrant prayer life, for the gospel to advance in our city, for churches to be planted, living more aware that Jesus is coming back, etc. 

David Mathis gives this helpful summary: "Christian fasting turns its attention to Jesus or some great cause of his in the world. Christian fasting seeks to take the pains of hunger and transpose them into the key of some eternal anthem, whether it’s fighting against some sin, or pleading for someone’s salvation, or for the cause of the unborn, or longing for a greater taste of Jesus."

Other Resources

For more, check out David Mathis' excellent article titled, "Fasting for Beginners." Other helpful resources can be found here on the Desiring God website.

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