And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Acts 14:23 (NIV)
Prayer and fasting are spiritual practices that are supported spiritually. Jesus Himself prayed and fasted, and as His followers, we are to do likewise. But it is important to note that engaging in prayer and fasting is a matter of the heart.
The most result-oriented thing about prayer and fasting is the one prompted by the Spirit of God- this is when you are led by the Holy Spirit to wait on Him.
Often when He prompts you, you can be sure that there is indeed a need to fast and pray.
In this article: 75 benefits of prayer and fasting, I will walk you through what prayer is, what fasting is, how to pray and fast, as well as the overwhelming benefits of fasting and prayer.
What is Prayer?
The simplest definition of prayer is perhaps a conversation with God or talking to God.
Prayer is evidently not some meditation or passive reflection; it is a direct address to God Himself. It is basically the way we communicate our desires, needs, thoughts, feelings, and emotions to Him. Also, it is how we fellowship with God.
Biblical definitions describe fasting and prayer as a way to seek God’s favor (Exodus 32:11). Two, it is a means to pour out our souls to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:15).
Three, it is a way to make Heaven hear our voice (2 Chronicles 32:20). Four, it is a way to draw near to God (Psalm 73:28). Lastly, it is a means to kneel before God our Father (Ephesians 3:14).
But generally speaking, prayer is the believers’ means of communicating with God. Often we pray for several reasons.
For instance, we pray to praise and thank God, tell Him how much we sincerely love Him, enjoy His presence, and tell Him about the things going on in our lives.
Additionally, we pray to request things from God, ask for wisdom, and seek guidance. Interestingly, as we love conversing and interacting with our children, that is exactly how God loves this intimate exchange with us. Fellowship with the Lord is the heart of prayer.
When we pray, we admit to God that He is greater than us and ultimately knows what is best for us in any given situation (Romans 11:33–36). In prayer, we essentially say, “Not my will Lord, but your will be done.”
Prayer is not seeking our will but seeking to align ourselves with God’s will (1 John 5:14–15; James 4:3). Meanwhile, the key to answered prayer is praying according to God’s will and in accordance with His Word.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is referred to as the voluntary abstinence from something (usually food) for a specific period (hours, days, or months), and its aim is to devote oneself to God through seeking God and praying.
Interestingly, fasting dates as far back as the Old Testament times and continued to the New Testament times. Even Jesus Himself fasted (See Matthew 4:1-11).
Hence, it is a spiritual discipline and a common practice that the scriptures support. The practice of fasting as a means to express our faith with our entire being – body, spirit, and soul. Our spirit’s hunger for God always finds fulfillment when we fast.
When fasting, in most cases, we choose what to abstain from (food or any other thing). It is our choice to decide what to abstain from when fasting – but often, it is food. When we fast, we demonstrate to ourselves and to God that we are indeed serious about our relationship with Him.
Typically, we deny our flesh and abstain from eating food in order to strengthen and feed our spirit man. The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 5 that the desires of our spirits are constantly at war with the desires of the flesh.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17: For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you cannot do whatever you want. Galatians 5:16-17 (NIV).
Therefore, if we want to walk by the Spirit as believers, then we must strengthen our spirits to the point where they will become stronger than our flesh.
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How to Fast and Pray
Prayer and fasting are often linked together (See Luke 2:37; 5:33). However, you should note that we can pray without fasting, but fasting without prayer is not fasting.
It is simply dieting or food deprivation. We observe spiritual fast only to create an avenue to seek God with greater urgency. When we fast, the hunger pangs remind us of the need to attend to a more pressing hunger – the hunger for God.
Typically, fasting gives us more time to pray, and prayer pulls down spiritual strongholds, destroys chains of darkness, and gives us both physical and spiritual breakthroughs.
Meanwhile, our hearts are connected to God when we fast and pray; He in turn also prepares us for His imminent return – the rapture of the saints (See Luke 14:16-17).
There are several ways to fast and pray. Whichever you choose, the whole essence is to connect with God on a deeper level.
As we fast and pray, we are basically humbling ourselves before God. More so, we are giving up the things that give us satisfaction in order to draw close to the Lord – allowing Him to satisfy us instead.
The time we spend and what we are fasting for all depends on what we sense is God leading us to do.
Moreover, how long you fast is completely up to you and the leading of the Holy Spirit. In a nutshell, the more time we spend with Him is, the more meaningful our waiting on Him will be.
Also See: Praise and Worship: The 75 Awesome Benefits.
The following are tips on how to fast and pray:
Schedule a time:
Before you embark on fasting and prayer, it is expedient you set a convenient date and time for it.
This is important so as to avoid distractions or other things getting in the way.
Plan how you will devote your time to God:
Before the day of prayer and fasting, plan how to dedicate yourself to a certain number of hours or days of fasting and prayer.
This planning should include one when to pray during fasting. Two, when and where to study from the Scripture. Three, what hymns to sing and specific things to praise and thank God for in different sessions.
Write the prayer topics you need to cover:
Plan specific prayers you are to do during each time of prayer.
For instance, to plead for the forgiveness of sins. Two, to ask for personal needs and the needs of your family members, like the health needs of the elderly in your family.
Three, interceding for your friends and acquaintances, especially for their salvation. Four, praying for protection, blessings, provisions, praying for the church, the nation, and so on.
Begin your fasting with praise and worship on the actual day:
On the actual day of your prayer and fasting, start your day by praising and worshiping God. Study and meditate on Scriptures.
Invite the Holy Spirit to work in you; be mindful of His presence when you do this. As you study and meditate on Scriptures, pray for spiritual insight.
Deuteronomy 10:21 (NIV) says, He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.
Take a short break to relax at noon:
If your fasting will extend towards evening, take a short break at noon to relax. You can take a prayer walk instead.
Study God’s word more, journal your thoughts and everything you think the Holy Spirit is saying to you.
Then you can also pray more at this time. Mark 6:31(NIV): Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.
Get alone with God in Intercessory Prayers:
In the next stage of your waiting, spend some time in intercessory prayers.
This could be for your neighbors, community, and the nation’s leaders, for people unreached with the Gospel of Christ, and so on.
Job 42:10 (NIV): After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.
End the fast:
When you sense the Holy Spirit has given you peace or you are having a nudging to end the fasting and prayer, go ahead and conclude it with prayers of thanksgiving.
75 Benefits of Prayer and Fasting
Increases our intimacy with God
Empowers our spirits
Enables us to persevere in trials without falling
Empowers us to live above sin
Helps us overcome temptation
Increases our faith
Strengthens our spirits
Brings spiritual mortification
Fortifies us spiritually
Makes us spiritually sensitive
Attracts God’s presence into our lives
Opens the doors of blessings
Makes us enjoy the goodness of God
Mortifies our flesh
Provides divine protection from the enemy
Makes healing possible
Opens the door of provisions
Brings breakthroughs in different aspects of our lives
Strengthens our relationship with God
Opens the door to spiritual gifts
Creates room for acceptable worship
Increases our hunger for spiritual things
Leads to spiritual restoration
Gives us access to God’s help
Helps us live holy and righteous lives
Brings timely fulfillment of God’s divine promises
Saves us from spiritual death
Increases our understanding of spiritual things
Delivers us from trouble
Opens our spiritual eyes and ears
Helps us discover our gifts and callings
Strengthens spiritual discernment
Causes a financial turnaround
Helps us victory in spiritual battles
Puts the enemies in our lives to flight
Destroys the stronghold of the devil in our lives
Brings victory and deliverance in spiritual warfare
Makes impossible situations possible
Destroys limitations and stagnation
Enables us to make steady progress in life
Makes us more like Christ
Empowers us for the work of ministry
Destroys the spirits of poverty
Brings success and prosperity
Makes God’s glory in our lives manifest
Causes miracles in different aspects of our lives
Empowers us to pray more
Helps us defeat strong satanic oppositions that resist prayers
Empowers us to preach the gospel of Christ
Brings speedy answers to prayers
Causes spiritual growth and maturity
Helps us receive divine comfort in distress
Makes us sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit
Brings harvests of souls
Releases peace and joy
Rejuvenates us both physically and spiritually
Helps us live purposefully
Makes us enjoy divine favor
Brings restoration to lost blessings
Makes God’s power flow through us
Reverses satanic judgment and expectations
Puts an end to stubborn problems
Destroys satanic strongholds and foundations
Keeps us rapture conscious
Moves God’s to unleash judgment on our enemies
Calms raging storms in our lives
Delivers us from dangerous situations
Reposition us spiritually
Provides an avenue for repentance or reconciliation
Increases our understanding of God’s word
Improves our physical and mental health
Gives us clarity of purpose
Imbues us with Godly wisdom
Causes spiritual awakening in our lives
The truth is we have so much to gain when we pray and fast. We not only stand to gain spiritually, but we also derive health benefits.
Perhaps you have never fasted before, and this sounds like a very scary thing; I want to assure you that it is not. All you need to do is to start with a little amount of time, for instance, 6:12 noon. From there, you can increase the duration of your waiting as you get used to the practice of prayer and fasting.
Both the spiritual and physical benefits of prayer and fasting are innumerable. Therefore, I encourage you to delve into it, especially if you have never waited on the Lord before or you are in dire need of spiritual renewal.