Releasing God's Power Through Fasting
By Bill Bright
A discussion on prayer would not be complete
without including a subject that is an important companion
to prayer in the Bible: fasting.
Combining fasting with prayer can result in a spiritual
atomic bomb that pulls down spiritual strongholds and
releases the power of God in your life and the life
of your church, its pastor, its leaders, and its members.
Down through the centuries, godly people who have done
mighty things for the Lord have testified to the necessity
of prayer with fasting. John Wesley, who shook the world
for God during the Great Awakening, which gave rise
to the Methodist Church toward the end of the eighteenth
century, is representative of such great spiritual leaders.
John Wesley so believed in this power that he urged
early Methodists to fast and pray every Wednesday and
Friday. He felt so strongly about fasting those two
days a week that he refused to ordain anyone in Methodism
who wouldn't agree to do it.
The roll call of other great Christian leaders who determined
to make prayer with fasting a part of their lives reads
like a hall of fame: Martin Luther, John Calvin, John
Knox, Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Henry, Charles Finney,
Andrew Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and many more.
Why were they so convinced of the need for fasting and
prayer? And how does fasting cause the fire of God to
fall upon the life of the individual and the Church?
OUR NEED TO FAST
The writings of Scripture, the church fathers,
and many Christian leaders of today offer several biblical
insights into the spiritual need for fasting:
- IT IS A BIBLICAL WAY TO TRULY HUMBLE ONESELF IN
THE SIGHT OF GOD (PS. 35:13;EZRA 8:21).
- IT BRINGS REVELATION BY THE HOLY SPIRIT OF A PERSON'S
TRUE SPIRITUAL CONDITION, RESULTING IN BROKENNESS,
REPENTANCE, AND CHANGE.
- IT IS A CRUCIAL MEANS FOR PERSONAL REVIVAL BECAUSE
IT BRINGS THE INNER WORKINGS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT INTO
PLAY IN A MOST UNUSUAL, POWERFUL WAY.
- IT HELPS US BETTER UNDERSTAND THE WORD OF GOD BY
MAKING IT MORE MEANINGFUL, VITAL, AND PRACTICAL.
- IT TRANSFORMS PRAYER INTO A RICHER AND MORE PERSONAL
- IT CAN RESULT IN DYNAMIC PERSONAL REVIVAL--BEING
FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT AND REGAINING A STRONG SENSE
OF SPIRITUAL DETERMINATION.
- IT CAN RESTORE THE LOSS OF ONE'S FIRST LOVE FOR
Throughout the Old and New Testament eras
and during the last two thousand years, fasting was
a primary means of humbling oneself before God.
In Isaiah 58:5, the prophet describes fasting as a "day
for a man to afflict his soul" (NKJV). And in Psalm
69:10, David says he "chastened" his soul with fasting
(NKJV). And in Psalm 35:13, he says he "humbled" his
soul by abstaining from food.
Humility is an attitude of the heart. The Scripture
says, "A broken and contrite heart--these, O God, You
will not despise" (Psalm 51:17 NKJV). God will hear
us and respond to our cry when we come before Him in
humility and brokenness--acknowledging and repenting
of our sins, and asking Him to cleanse us by the blood
of Jesus and to fill us with His Holy Spirit.