Teaching on Prayer and Fasting
Prayer is a necessity for every believer for many reasons:
- thank the Lord for our lives
- ask for forgiveness for our sins
- ask for strength and wisdom to overcome temptation
- ask the Lord for the things we need in our lives
- exercise the power and authority that the Lord gave us against satan
Prayer, above all, keeps us in line with the will of God over our lives. Time for prayer and fasting is an exciting time and represents an opportunity for you to tell the Lord everything that is on your heart. The devil knows the effect of prayer and fasting and will not delight in seeing people take part in such a powerful way of connecting with the Lord in spirit. You may, therefore, face a variety of discouragements before and during the time of prayer and fasting. I encourage you to overcome the devil by having a regular time to prayer and fast, as did our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 13:1-4)
The Bible, in 2 Chronicles 7:14 says:
“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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
What is Fasting
Fasting is generally known as willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink or both for a period of time. In the medical context, people may be asked to fast under medical observation for investigation of medical problems. In Christianity however, fasting as presented in the Bible is a form of intense prayer which equips believers to focus and to raise their faith in God in prayer. This form of fasting is presented in the Bible as abstaining from both food and drink for a time dedicated to prayer.
How Fasting Works
The Bible tells us that the power of God responds to faith (Hebrews 11:7). The power is already available to:
- forgive sin
- protect against the power of the devil
- heal our bodies of all sickness
- to heal our minds and thoughts
- to strengthen us so that we grow in our Christian life
All we need to do as believers is to position ourselves to be able to benefit from this blessing. Fasting works by helping our faith to grow. It is a form of humbling ourselves before God and helps our minds and bodies focus on God throughout the day, therefore increasing our faith. The Bible, however, does not specify precisely what time a day’s prayer ends. During communal fasting at Millennium Harvest Church, the believers abstain from food and drink until 4pm. Believers also individually engage in prayer and fasting that is not directed by the church at their own determination. It is common for believers to individually pray and fast for longer periods. Millennium Harvest Church does not discourage anyone from taking their prescribed medication. Anyone on regular medication wishing to participate in fasting should individually discuss this with the pastor.
In the Christian sense, fasting is not just a matter of abstaining from food and drink. When fasting, believers ought to dedicate their lives to prayer for the duration of the fasting period. During the course of the day they ought to be praying through the name of Jesus asking whatever they desire. They will be very conscious of avoiding sin and be able to overcome temptation. Reading the Bible is a very effective means of overcoming these obstacles. Many people find it helpful to listen to Christian music to help their minds focus on Jesus during their time of fasting. Prayer and fasting also present the opportunity to speak against the power of the devil over one’s life, family or Church through the name of Jesus (Ephesians 6:12, 2 Corinthians 10:4). You need to find time during the course of the day of fasting to pray, ask for forgiveness and cleansing before you make your requests (Isaiah 59: 1-2). Believers are encouraged to pray as much as they can during the period of prayer and fasting. Find a place where you can be alone and pray to Jesus (Philippians 4:6). Others also find it helpful to go into confinement to have a time of prayer without disturbances for the entire period of prayer and fasting. One can pray quietly in their heart when around other people i.e at work or college but should also allow for time to freely express oneself alone to the Lord in prayer. At the end of the day at 4pm or ever later, believers should not partake of food or drink without praying to break their fast. This allows for prayer thanking the Lord for the strength to fast as well as to mark the end of the fast, concluding the requests for the day. This manner of ending a fast should be followed for all the days of the fasting period, if fasting for more than one day.