A Word about Prayer and Fasting . . .

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A few years ago, I began promoting a monthly day of fasting and prayer. The seventh of each month was arbitrarily chosen because it is easy to remember and seven appears to be a number that God particularly likes.

The larger purpose behind fasting and prayer is "showing God the strength of our desire."  Fasting and prayer does not make a person righteous or holy. Fasting and prayer does not make God love us more -- He loved us before we knew Him. 

Willfully abstaining from food for a whole day is somewhat difficult to do. (In fact, certain health problems may prohibit total fasting, but fasting can be as simple as skipping one meal or some kind of dietary denial.)  Willfully entering into fasting for a specific purpose shows God the strength of our desire.  For example, suppose a person is praying for wisdom or courage on a particular matter.  Abstaining from food is a way of saying to the Lord, "Lord, I desire wisdom or courage on this matter more than I desire food."  God sees the intensity of our desire.  Every hunger pain is a physical alarm clock to stop and pray again, asking God for wisdom or courage.

In Luke 2, the prophetess Anna spent much of her life at the temple, fasting and praying, asking God to grant her the great privilege of seeing the Messiah with her own eyes.  Her humble prayer was answered when she was 84!

In Mark 9, the disciples tried to cast a demon out of a child but they could not.  When Jesus returned to them, He discovered their failure, ".... He rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.  And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead.  But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, `Why could not we cast him out?� And he said unto them, �This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.�  (Mark 9:25-29, KJV)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:17, 18)  The point here is that fasting is to be conducted silently; it is not a religious ritual or something that God demands. 

Because the Wake-Up �family� is widely scattered over the Earth, I have been promoting a day of fasting and prayer for the past few years because I believe that all of God's children need to focus more on God and His Word.  We need to meditate more on His love, His character, His power, His mercy and justice.  We need wisdom for the times in which we live and we need direction from our Father.  We need to behold a higher purpose for life and we need greater opportunities to share the gospel.  We need to walk more closely with God -- in spirit (a humble attitude) and in truth. Of course, everyone has a list of personal matters that also concerns them.  During the day of fasting and prayer, these personal petitions can be presented before God, too. 

In closing, I would say a day of fasting and prayer is something like a number of people climbing up a great mountain to see God.  The climb will be physically strenuous and the rocky way will make the journey difficult, but what can compare with kneeling before a kind and loving Almighty God to present your concerns?  There's nothing on earth like communion with God and those who love Him.  I have discovered that if we show God strong desire, He responds with strong presence.  God is very much alive.

Heb 11:6:  �And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.�

Larry Wilson