“If My people who are called by My name will humble them-selves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land
(2 Chronicles 7:14).
We all need to be encouraged to practice fasting and prayer. It is one of the key ways in which we will bring in the harvest. God wants to bring His people into a deep and holy life style. When I was in India a few years ago, I was challenged deeply by the pure, humble and simple lives of the Christians I met there. The harvest is ripe in India, and the Christians are positioned in a holy and pure lifestyle that is necessary in gathering it in. They are seeing signs, wonders and miracles and many salvations of those from a Hindu background. Fasting and prayer purifies us and makes us ready for harvest.
“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 renew them. Only fasting meets the criteria of each aspect of 2 Chronicles 7:14. 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
Fasting and Prayer Purifies Us
- It humbles the soul – “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. But it is followed by joy and the garment of praise. See Psalm 69:10, 11, 13, 30-32.
- It brings the body into subjection – “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” (1 Corinthians 9:26-27, Galatians 5:17).
- It breaks down the barriers in man’s carnal nature that stand in the way of the Holy Spirit’s power – Later the Holy Spirit can 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 is a sacrifice of the personal will – a discipline of the heart and mind. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
- It is a time of examination – We need to be still before God in order to hear His voice. He examines our inner attitudes and motivation. “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 brokenness which is commanded in Scripture – “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30b).
- It unclutters the spirit and God focuses on our heart – “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17).
- It causes us to face ourselves without the normal escape routes and 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 and Prayer Brings us into a Purer Relationship with Christ
Let the following testimony from Alice Smith speak to your heart. She is a long-term intercessor, author and leader of the U.S. Prayer Center.
“In time, the discerning Bride safe in the arms of her Bridegroom will see ‘that look in His eye’ that communicates lovingly, Okay beloved, what do you want from Me? For years I took this opportunity to share my request with Him. Then one day, captivated by His grace and mercy, there seemed only one correct answer, ‘My beloved Lord, I want only you.’ Instantly, in the unseen realm, the shouts of joy were heard in heaven as a new breakthrough occurred in the relationship between Jesus and His intercessor. I had been given the opportunity to ask for anything, instead I chose to have more of God. I rejoice in that decision daily.
Amazingly, this new victory also ushers in new authority! Unaware of the promotion in heaven’s court, the believer who makes this choice waits for a response from the Lord. Imagine His delight with this choice as He answers, ‘Beloved, I give you more of Me.’ A metamorphosis occurs as the old nature falls off and the spirit is given new life beyond the veil with Him. True love has taken root.” Alice Smith
Fasting and Prayer Leads to Brokenness and Humility in the Church
“I used to spend a great deal of time in prayer; sometimes, I thought, literally praying ‘without ceasing’. I also found it very profitable, and felt very much inclined to hold frequent days of private fasting. On those days I would seek to be entirely alone with God, and would generally wander off into the woods, or get into the meeting house, or somewhere away entirely by myself. But whenever I fasted, and let the Spirit take his own course with me, and gave myself up to let him lead and instruct me, I universally found it in the highest degree useful. I found I could not live without enjoying the presence of God” Charles Finney
- God will always use the broken and the humble – “Broken soil produces the crop, broken clouds produce the rain, broken grain makes the bread, and broken bread feeds the hungry. A God-designed path through brokenness brings each of us to death to self, which perfects our humility and releases our spirit-man (Gal. 2:20).” Alice Smith
- Jesus is our example – He humbled Himself unto death (Phil. 2). Paul, the apostle, said that he died daily (1 Corinthians 15:31). Through brokenness the Holy Spirit empowers us to live the resurrected life.
- God wants to break the carnal nature of selfishness in us – “When we are quick to humble ourselves and repent, then brokenness occurs and all resistance, independence and pride are replaced with submission, tenderness, obedience and love.” Alice Smith
- God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble – James 4:6, See also 1 Peter 5:5.
- God doesn’t want us to touch His glory – Every time God uses you, give Him all the praise and glory.
“A broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart – these O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
By Debbie Przybylski
Intercessors Arise International