Dear Pastor
February 25, 2005
Will praying, fasting help?

Hi pastor,

I am a little confused I need help urgently! I have been praying for a long time about something and I am not getting any answer. Someone suggested that I started praying and fasting, but I don’t know what that means and how you go about doing that. I would like to know all about that because my problem is very serious. {{more}}

Thank you

Greetings sister,

Fasting is an underrated, underused but important part of the practice of our faith with tremendous benefits. The person who recommended fasting to you has made a wise suggestion.

The Israelites had organized times of fasting as part of their practice of worship. Certain days were set aside for fasting and consecration that was mandated to them. However I will not elaborate on that, but rather address that which concerns your situation: that is, periodical, spontaneous fasting for varying reasons as part of your every day journey in the practice of your faith; the living of your life in the Lord.

Many have portrayed fasting as a once in a distance thing that we do when asked by our pastor for some need in the church, but often the significance of the practice has been lost. As you read the Sermon on the Mount recorded by the Apostle Matthew and pay attention to Chapter six, one can see Jesus giving guidelines on Alms giving, praying and fasting. Each time he started by saying: “When ye…. (Pray- give alms, fast)” If we should give regularly, pray regularly then why should fasting be far and in between?

So you are on the right track to seek answers to your problems from the Lord by praying and fasting. Both the Old and New testaments are replete with examples of people of God who did.

Many fasted for Godly direction (Ezra 8:21-23; Acts 13:2), men of God prayed and fasted for mercy from the Lord for their entire nation (Nehemiah 1:1-11; Daniel 9:3) King David sought divine favour as he beseeched the Lord, unsuccessfully though, not to allow the death of his son, born out of his adulterous, murderous affair with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12: 15-23).

Jesus, in responding to his disciples’ query as to why they could not cast off demons out of a boy brought to them identified their lack of faith. He then counseled that such lack of faith needed to be dealt with using prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:19-21) There are many more examples of servants of God who for various reasons and due to a variety of situations cried out to God in prayer as they afflicted their bodies with fasting.

As to how you fast, there are now many prescribed ways including the now popular “partial fasting” where someone abstains maybe from meat, heavy foods and such like for whether it be two or three days, a week or more. A total fast however is to totally abstain from food and drink for the time prescribed, as is the example seen in scripture. As to how long you should fast, remember it is not a competition. The fact that you are willing to fast and pray about your situation already puts you on the way to your answer. Because you are saying to God that you want to shut out even your most common desire (to eat) so that you can give yourself to hearing from Him. So as it is your first time, I will suggest a day (6:00am – 6:00pm). Find a day that you can totally shut yourself away and make your supplication known unto the Lord.

This is a huge topic, but permit me to just say this, as you fast you should avoid any unnecessary conversations or activity. You should seek to stay as focused as possible. The Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian Church in 1st Corinthians 7:5 told married couples that praying and fasting should be the only grounds for them to temporarily, but with each other’s consent, suspend marital relations (sexual intercourse). So if the act of marriage can be suspended to facilitate a season of prayer and fasting, then you could put television, radio, “liming” and such like into perspective.

I will pray for you as you seek the Lord, keep me posted, God bless you.