Prayer & Fasting
In the scriptures, people fast for many different reasons. Joe Carter identifies a few of them: to strengthen prayer (Ezra 8:23); to express grief (1 Sam. 31:13); to seek deliverance (2 Chr. 20:26); to express repentance (1 Sam. 7:6); to minister to the needs of others (Isa. 58:3-7); and to humble oneself before God (1 Kings 21:27-29) among others.
During Multiply, the pastors are calling for a season of fasting and prayer so that we can hear God’s voice and respond to Him in obedience. This initiative calls for both an individual and a corporate response. The pastors are asking God to move powerfully in individual lives and in the whole of our church family. A prayer and fasting initiative provides a unique opportunity for brothers and sisters to align with the Spirit of God as we listen for His voice individually and collectively.
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that helps God’s children identify fleshly cravings, eliminate distraction, and commune more closely with God’s Spirit. Fasting is not about asking God to bless our desires (Isaiah 58). Fasting is a time to align with His desires. Let us encourage you to pursue this time with purpose. Resolve to crucify the flesh and yield to the Spirit.
2 Chronicles 20:3-4 says, “Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.”
Ezra 8:23 says, “So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.”
May it be so for Bay Leaf Baptist Church in these days.
Pointers for an effectual fast:
- Begin your mental preparation as you go to bed the night before your fast.
- Wake with prayerful intention.
- Drink plenty of water.
- In the time that you would ordinarily eat, take an intentional break, find a quiet place, and seek the Lord in prayer and reading His word. Otherwise, temptation is high to fill the time with work or other activities.
- Acknowledge in faith that “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt 4.4).
- Be alert to the weekly prayer guide provided in the Bay Leaf Multiply booklet.
On the Sunday evening preceding the week in which you fast, look for an email with pointers for how to pray.
The NIV Lifehacks Bible, notes by Joe Carter (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016), 317.