“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood.” Isaiah 58:5-7
As we move forward in the days ahead and focus our attention on the nations, we cannot help but stress the importance of fasting and prayer. Fasting along with prayer will be a key used by God to launch you into His work, whether in country or overseas, and it will be vital to your success. We want to encourage you to begin to make fasting a part of your life. God will give you spiritual discernment and an increased ability to hear His voice when you fast. He will enlarge your faith and help you to increase your focus on the eternal. He also gives spiritual power to those who fast, and we certainly need that in reaching the nations. The urgency to reach the nations is increasing at an incredible rate. We must be prepared and ready to go. Fasting and prayer prepares us in the quickest and most powerful way for our future work for God.
The Purifying Power of Fasting and Prayer
“If my people… will humble themselves and pray and seek My face” II Chronicles 7:14
“After 45 years of emphasizing evangelism, discipleship and fulfillment of the Great Commission, some may think I have gone off on a tangent with my strong emphasis on fasting and prayer. The fact is that the best way to help individuals become evangelists for Christ is to bring them into a relationship with God in which the Holy Spirit renews them. Only fasting meets the criteria of each aspect of II Chronicles 7:14: ‘If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’ When you humble yourself and pray and seek God’s face and turn from your wicked ways, something happens to you and you get excited about the Lord in a way that you do not through any other means.” Bill Bright
After returning from India last year, I am convinced that God wants to bring His people into a deep and holy life style. I was challenged deeply by the pure, humble and simple lives of the Christians I met in India. The harvest is ripe there, and the Christians are positioned in a holy and pure life style that is necessary for the ingathering of souls. God is using them in bringing signs, wonders and miracles. Fasting and prayer purifies the believer and makes us ready for harvest in the nations. Fasting does much in our lives internally. God desires that we seek a love relationship with Him. He longs for intimacy with us. Fasting and prayer remove the distractions from our lives so that we can focus on Him alone. Our relationship becomes purer, and our devotion becomes more intense. We get to the place where we seek Him only and not other things. The benefits listed below show us just how powerful this purifying is when we take time to seek God in fasting.
- It humbles the soul – Jesus is our example. He humbled Himself unto the death on the cross (Philippians 2). Through brokenness, the Holy Spirit empowers us to live the resurrected life and touch the nations with His glory. “I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting.” (Psalm 35:13)
- It chastens the soul – The closer we draw near God’s heart, the more we will share His sorrows. “When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach. I made sackcloth also my garment.” (Psalm 69:10, 11)
- It brings the body into subjection – We need to discipline ourselves physically on a daily basis. “Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (I Corinthians 9:26-27)
- It breaks down the barriers in man’s carnal nature – These soulish barriers hinder the Holy Spirit’s power. Fasting can enable the Holy Spirit to work unhindered through your prayers. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)
- It sacrifices our personal will – It is the discipline of the heart and mind and emotions. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
- It is a time of examination – God examines our inner attitudes and motivation. Fasting and prayer quiet us so we can more clearly hear His voice. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
- It brings us into a deeper level of brokenness – “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)
- It enables God to focus on our heart – He looks deeply in our hearts during times of fasting, encouraging and revealing any need for repentance. “Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.” (Psalm 26:2)
- It causes us to face ourselves without escape routes – This brings us into a deeper relationship with God. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2a)
- Fasting opens the way for God’s grace – God gives grace to the humble. We need lots of grace on the mission field. “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'” (James 4:6)
Ask God How to Personally Incorporate Fasting into Your Life
When we fast and pray, we are conscious of His presence, and we yield to His Spirit in humility. God will flow through those who intimately know Him. When our carnal nature of selfishness is broken, pride is replaced by submission, and we grow in our obedience and love. He will always use the broken and humble. We read in James 4:6, “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'” As we experience the grace of God in a greater dimension in our lives, we give Him all the praise and glory. We especially encourage you to employ fasting in your life before you go overseas. The following are some helpful ways to incorporate fasting into your lifestyle.
- Seek God regarding fasting in your own personal life – Ask Him to increase your ability to fast and pray. Start where you are. Skip meals and pray, and then fast for a day or a few days. As He leads, you will want to move into times of longer fasts.
- Ask God to give you some key things for which to pray during times of fasting – Write them down in a journal so that you can pray for them regularly. As you ask God to speak to you, and write down anything He says, ask Him for spiritual discernment and guidance for the future.
- Pray for God to increase prayer and fasting in your city and the nation where you work or plan to work – Bathe that country in prayer during seasons of fasting.
- Read books on prayer and fasting – We are including some recommended resources on fasting at the back of this book.
Be encouraged as you seek to develop your fasting and prayer life. Fasting is an important part of being an effective overseas worker. God will empower you for service; He will give you grace, and you shall not be disappointed. He will come through for you in a powerful way. After years on the mission field and years of involvement in Christian work, we have found fasting to be one of the most important disciplines in the Christian life. There are not words to express the value of fasting with prayer.
Fasting is spreading throughout the world as a vital part of the life of God’s end-time workers. We started fasting many years ago on the mission field. We started small with 1-day fasts and moved into 3-day fasts with small groups. We have often fasted between Christmas and New Year’s Day for yearly guidance. In time, we moved into more lengthy fasts of 21 days, 30 days, and a 40-day fast. We also recommend fasting until dinner before major ministry trips or for particular needs or guidance. Some of us are called to a fasting life style for reaching the nations. We recommend a 3-day Global Bridegroom Fast every first Monday-Wednesday every month. The value of fasting cannot be fully expressed. It has the power to break through any obstacles. After every long fast, we have seen God break through in a multitude of ways. Let God challenge you to this most strategic discipline. You will have God’s grace and will never be disappointed in the resulting victories!
“Prayer intercession moves into the breach, the spiritual gap, and begins to pray repentance, restoration, revival and redirection for people – saved and unsaved. This should be the intercessor’s prayer while fasting. This is the prayer God desires from fasting intercessors. ‘Is this not the fast I have chosen?’ Combine this spirit of intercession with the fasting of an honest heart, with Isaiah 58:6-12 to guide us, and the result will be powerful prayers with Kingdom results.” Frank Damazio
For additional training on mentoring in your call; discovering your destiny and how to prepare for your call, read the book called Go Forth in Power by Norman and Debbie Przybylski.