Why should Christians fast and pray?


Why should Christians fast and pray?

Since this is my first post this year, it is only right to welcome you into this blessed year, and to do that, I will be kicking off the year with something that every Christian should cultivate this year, and this is “fasting and prayer.”

Fasting and prayer, as simple as they sound, have so many misconceptions around them and in this write up, I will be explaining in depth the concept of fasting and prayer and also sharing some biblical backing for them. 

First, let’s understand what the different concepts are.

What is fasting? To put it in a very simple form, fasting is abstinence. Fasting is abstinence from water and food. For some others, fasting entails doing away with something that you are used to doing. More like sacrificing something to be focused on what you are expecting. 

Fasting can also be religious or not; for the sake of this write up, I will be differentiating between both.

There are different things that set religious fasting aside and they are: 

  • Intent: The reason behind religious fasting is spiritual discipline, which may be as a result of many things (e.g., seeking the face of God, preparing for something big, seeking to hear from God, etc.). For non religious fasting, most of the time it is for medical or dietary reasons, but it’s not limited to those two. 

Basically, religious fasting has the God factor, while the other doesn't.

  • Process: For anything to be effective, procedures and processes have to be followed. As a Christian, religious fasting must include seeking the face of God; without that, it is starvation. And the process entails doing this for a specific time. (e.g., 12am-3pm). 

For non religious fasting is basically starving yourself to reach a worldly goal. 

The importance of fasting

For everything in life, there is a purpose; if something doesn’t have an importance, then there would be no value attached to it. The same thing applies to fasting. 

Fasting is an act that invokes ultimate focus and helps you hear clearly from God. Fasting is an act of spiritual discipline that helps silence the flesh and makes you sensitive to the voice of God. 

Fasting intensifies your ability to pray; it makes your hunger for God rise beyond your usual level. It also helps to grow our faith as we wait on the Lord. Fasting sort of shows that we, too, as humans, can willingly sacrifice a little to draw closer to God. Fasting is important to have a deeper connection with God.

When yo​​u look at the lives of the greats in the Bible, you will understand the inspiration of fasting. Fasting has been seen to come before some of the greatest encounters in the Bible. 

For example: Moses fasted for forty days and forty nights, after which he wrote the ten commandments, and he experienced what no man did in the Old Testament. He had such an encounter that the skin on his face shone and the children of Isreal were scared to come near him. (Exodus 34:28-30). Fasting is important to evoke unusual encounters with God. It also helps when we need to hear God clearly when we need a sense of direction. 

Lastly, in this section, fasting shouldn’t be limited to when we want to ask God for something. Although, when we need something from our father, we can fast and make our requests but there are tons of reasons to fast; asking and asking should not be the main reason we fast always.

After an understanding of what fasting is, let's delve into what praying is.

What is praying? 

Praying is an act of talking to God and hearing from him. Unlike how most people view prayers, it’s an actual communication process that entails speaking to God and also hearing from him, not just speaking alone.

There are different forms of prayers; intercessory prayers (the ones we pray on behalf of others), thanksgiving, making our requests known, etc. 

When praying as Christians, it is important that we know what counts as prayer and what doesn't. For example: crying, grumbling, mumming, and blaming God—all these don’t count as orayers.

Imagine your teenage child walks up to you, starts crying, and doesn’t say anything, despite you lending your listening ears. After that, he goes and says, “mum/dad didn’t answer me.” The next question would be, What did you ask for? Although God knows our needs before we ask, we too must cultivate the act of asking. You can cry, but make sure you ask. Matthew 7:7 says, Ask, and it shall be given unto you, not cry. It further says, Seek and ye shall find, not cry and ye shall find. 

The same goes for grumbling and blaming God; you are not asking, like the Bible asked us, to make our requests known to God with prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. (Philipians 4:6)

Knowing these two concepts. Why, then, must Christians fast and pray?

  • To keep communicating with God: If you want to have an intimate relationship with God, you have to continue to speak to him. You can’t claim to love someone and cut communication with them.
  • To keep ourselves out of troubles: (Matthew 26:39) Just like Jesus prayed to God to let the cup pass over him, we should always learn to run to God, not man, to help us in trouble. And the best way to do that is through fasting and prayer.
  • To experience divine encounters: We have examples of people in the Bible who prayed and fasted, which invoked divine encounters, e.g., Moses.
  • To praise God (thanksgiving; Psalm 147:1): Praising God can come in different forms, including thanking him for what he has done and also for what you trust him to do. 
  • To overcome the wiles of the devil: As Christians, we need to fortify ourselves against the wiles of the devil, who seeks whom to devour. It is best to keep praying and fasting to overcome the devil and his agents. (Sin also).
  • To experience spiritual growth: (Matthew 17:15-21) A practical example of this can be seen in the scripture mentioned above, where the disciples were unable to cast out demons from a certain boy. He told his disciples that to access such power, you have to fast and pray. 
  • To evoke speedy response to our requests. 

Biblical backing for fasting and prayers

This writeup will come to an end with me just supporting all I have written with scripture. 

  • The right number of times to pray is always. (Ephesians 6:18, Luke 18:1) The Bible also emphasizes that we should pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  • Don't pray amis (James 4:3) Always pray the right way; if you ask the wrong way, you won’t be getting any answers.
  • Only Christians who are born again can reap the fruits of prayer and fasting. 
  • Learn to pray using the Lord’s prayer as a guide (thanksgiving, requests, forgiveness, intercession, and thanksgiving)

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