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Drew Worthen
Port Charlotte, FL

E-Mail: drewaw@comcast.net


PRAYER AND FASTING


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PRAYER AND FASTING

Prayer is communication between God and man. Everyone, regardless of their position with God, has engaged in some form of prayer at some time in their life. But, it is only the Christian, one reconciled to God by grace through faith in Christ alone, who will experience the joyous privilege of actually communicating with God on a personal level.

THE BREAD OF LIFE

God reveals Himself to mankind in Christ and the Truths of Scripture. God calls people to trust His Word and enter into a relationship with Christ, so that they might experientially know, love and serve Him.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Him (Jn. 14:6).

He is life and the giver of life (Jn. 1:4). He created everyone with a purpose to glorify God. His command is that no one live on bread alone, but on every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4). Jesus Himself is called the "Bread of Life" ( Jn. 6:35,48).

True prayer is the natural outworking of a right relationship to God. The praying person is concerned to do the will of God (1Jn. 5:14).

IN THE NAME OF JESUS

Biblical prayer takes on many forms: praise, thanksgiving, confession, petition, and intercession. It is sharply distinguished from magic. The one who practices magic is concerned to manipulate forces to bring about his own will. But prayer is not to be a device for ensuring that God does what we want; it is a means of bringing us into conformity with what God wants.

The concern of prayer is to bring the worshiper into line with Godís purpose. True prayer is about abiding with Christ and having His Word abide in us (Jn 15:7). Prayer is to be "in Jesusí Name" (Jn. 14:13-14). This means that prayers should always be in accordance with all that "the Name" stands for. If our prayer does not fit with who Jesus is and what He came to do, then it is not real prayer in the Christian biblical sense. His Name encompasses His Nature and all His works which should fill our hearts with praise, thanksgiving and expressions of trust and self-surrender that we might be a witness of Him to others.

DEPENDANCE

The life of prayer is one of total commitment to Godís will. It involves sincerity (Hos.7:14; Mat. 6:5-6), and is not to be concerned with selfish desires (Jm. 4:3), it must be in faith (Mk. 11:24); faith is trust, directly generated by the moment of self-surrender.

The praying person must be one who desires God's will and walks according to His will in the power of the Spirit. But, the desire to be obedient is not so that we will get the answer from God we want; that would mean we are coaxing God like the magicians. Rather, we are genuinely longing to see the will of God done and our lives conformed to Christlikeness.

This is not meritorious, but is part of the living out of the faith in which we pray. We continue to respond and communicate with the Living God who first loved us and gave Himself for us. Prayer is never achieved in our own strength or wisdom, but is "in the Spirit" (Eph. 6:18).

We seek to know and follow Christ, the Bread of Life, and live by His Word and strength. True prayer flows from the centrality of the cross. When we see that nothing we can do will ever merit salvation, that it is Christís death and resurrection alone that brings us forgiveness, this brings about a humble relationship with God and all the rest will flow from that basic fact.

PRAYER WITH FASTING

There may be times when Christians add fasting to their prayers. Fasting is the abstaining from food for a time. Fasting is usually safe, but for reasons such as diabetes or pregnancy, it may not be possible to fast from foods for some people. This is a spiritual practice, but use the common sense the Lord gave you.

Therefore, you may choose a variation of the practice. A variation may have a person abstain from an activity (TV) or a type of food (meat or deserts) for a length of time. Although other religions and modern day health fads practice fasting, a Christian does so in order to remember and be completely dependant upon Jesus Christ.

A fast pleasing to the Lord is one that generates self-surrender, charity, mercy, generosity, etc. (Isa. 58:6-7). The abstaining is for the sake of humbling oneself before the Lord and remembering from Whom their help comes. The very hunger pangs that come should be a reminder of the need to live not by "bread alone", but in complete dependance upon Christ, Who is our life.

Fasting may be done corporately (Ezra 10:6; Deuteronomy 9:9, Exodus 34:28) or individually (Nehemiah 1:1-4;2:1; Matthew 6:17-18). The Scriptures show that it may be practiced in times of trouble (Esther 4:3; Nehemiah 1:4), in repentance (Ezra 10:6, Nehemiah 9:1), or in seeking Godís guidance (Acts 13:3, Luke 2:37 ). It is also practiced when waiting to receive empowering from God (Psalm 69:10, Judges 20:1-48, Mark 9:29), or when seeking deliverance (Isaiah 58:6, Matthew 17:21).

In the Scriptures, a fast was often for one day; sunrise to sunset (Judg. 20:26, 1Sam14:24) or for one night (Dan. 6:18). But there are instances of longer fasts: Estherís three day fast (Es. 4:16) and Davidís seven day fast (2Sam. 12:16-18). The longest recorded fasts in Scripture were those of Moses and Jesus for 40 days and nights. These two 40 day fasts were miraculous in nature and therefore not the norm. (Ex. 34:28, Mat. 4:2).

Since the practice of fasting is not manipulation of God but a humbling of oneself before Him, a rending of the heart and not the garment (Joel 2:13), the length of the fast, as well as the type chosen, is up to the person who desires to come before God in this humbling way.

HOW TO FAST

The following is only meant to be a helpful guide and you may find that your body responds differently to different liquids and solids, depending on how many days you decide to fast.

If you're the least bit concerned as to whether or not fasting may be a potential problem for you, because of illness or any physical condition you may have, by all means, consult a doctor first.

As you start your fast always keep in mind that you want to do this as unto the Lord; be more concerned with the attitude of your heart then following a particular formula for your fast as you come before the Lord in prayer.

For a one day fast:

Drink plenty of water throughout the day; you may also want to add a little fruit juice throughout the day.

For a three day fast:

For the first day eat only fresh fruits and vegetables for that day. You may add a little nuts or seeds. Be sure to drink plenty of water.

The second day drink only water. You may occassionally add a squeeze of fresh lemon and a little 100% maple syrup to the water if you desire.

The third day eat only fresh fruits and vegetables for that day. You may add a little nuts or seeds. Be sure to drink plenty of water.

For a seven day fast:

For the first & second day eat only fresh fruits and vegetables for that day. You may add a little nuts or seeds. Be sure to drink plenty of water.

For the third day drink only fresh juiced fruits and vegetables and plenty of distilled water.

The fourth day drink only water. You may occassionally add a squeeze of fresh lemon and a little 100% maple syrup to the water.

For the fifth day drink only fresh juiced fruits and vegetables and plenty of water.

The sixth & seventh day eat only fresh fruits and vegetables for that day. You may add a little nuts or seeds. Be sure to drink plenty of water.

CONCLUSION

Remember, that whenever you decide to add fasting to your prayers, be sure to spend time studying Godís Word and also devoting some time to praise and thanksgiving. Use the hunger pangs as a rememberance of your utter dependance upon Him and your willingness to be absolutely surrendered.

We are given new life in Christ and made more than conquerors through Him. We must become and remain totally dependant upon the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Who will do great and mighty things in and through those who depend upon Him.

OPPORTUNITIES

One day per month at Calvary Chapel, we devote a time to Corporate Prayer in which you may add fasting. We seek to be brought in line with Godís purposes and grow in conformity to Him. We remember the Church worldwide as well as locally, and missions as well as personal needs. We long to hear from Him and see the will of God done in our lives and His church here at Calvary Chapel Port Charlotte.

If you decide to be a part of the Crisis Prayer Team, your name will be added to a phone list that will be used whenever a call for urgent prayer is requested.

And Prayer Counselors are available for Intercessory Prayer at every service after worship for you confidential requests.


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