There are many misconceptions about fasting and praying. Some people think it is outdated and an Old Testament requirement and others believe they can use it to manipulate the hand of God. The disciples asked Jesus why they could not heal the boy with epilepsy, He told them, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. This statement has led to manymisunderstandings about fasting and praying for healing but in essence He was speaking about faith.
Jesus’ response to them was talking about the increase of faiththrough prayer and fasting and it was not just about healing. It is through faith that all the spiritual principles of God will work. The spiritual principle of fasting and praying according to God’s word will increase our faith and it is with faith that wecan heal the sick and cast out demons.
Matthew 15-21 Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” NKJ
To put Jesus’ words into context, He was talking about their lack of faith and unbelief as the reason they could not heal the boy. Not because the sickness or demons were so powerful butbecause of their lacked of faith. It is by fasting and praying God’s way that we are able to increase our faith that we could possibly move mountains and heal the sick.
The spiritual principle of fasting and praying is given to us from God as a weapon of spiritual warfare but He has also given us the manner in which we are too fast and pray, which is according to His will and His way. Some people will abstain from eating for a period of time but will not couple it with prayer and thereby they are in effect, dieting or cutting back on their food intake. Others will fast, but during their time of fasting they are not seeking God, they are puffing themselves up before men. Their actions can cause discord, conflict andarguments because of their hatred and malice against others.
Isaiah 58:4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day, To make your voice heard on high. NKJ
God does acknowledge they do indeed fast, but according to their own way. They walk around with sad and distorted faces to get the praise and attention of men. At the same time they are misusing and mistreating people, those created in the image of God, because of some differences or dislikes.
Isaiah 58:6-7 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? NKJ
God tells us the type of fast He has chosen. We are to seek God in prayer to loose those who are in bondage with the heavy burdens of sin and wickedness. Yet many will see people who are living in sinful lifestyles and will abhor and despise them, instead of praying that they will be loosed from that bondage.
While fasting and praying we are to seek the good of others who are oppressed, worried, broken, harassed and weighted down, that they will be freed of these yokes that society and mankind has placed on them.
Fasting is not just the abstaining from eating but it is taking the money and time we would normally spend on our lavish meal to provide for those who are in need. We are to feed the hungry, to help those who are homeless to find them shelter and to cover those who are without adequate clothing.
God told us not to hide from our family or our own flesh. Godknows that in our natural state, for many different reasons, we would want to disappear and be out of sight and out of view from some of our family members. It takes the Holy Spirit and the power of God to get our hearts to forgive those who have hurt us especially those who were supposed to provide and protect us.
This is not to say we are to put ourselves in harms way but we are to seek God and ask Him to give us the forgiveness we need for our people. So that we may be able to process and deal with those concerns according to His word and that we may move on and be set free. Though we may never be in their presence we can be at peace and not hide from the things that tormented us.
Fasting and praying is not just staying away from food but it is a time to engage the soul in fellowship with God. Just as the body needs nourishment for growth so do our souls need the spiritual sustenance we receive from God. When we invest time to fast and pray our spirit and soul are nourished more so than with the constant pampering and indulging of our flesh.
When we spend time in the presence of God we cannot help but to reflect His glory. Just as Moses when he had been with God his face glowed because he had been in God’s presence. Though there may not be a physical glowing appearance like Moses’ but people can recognize those who have been in the presence of God, by their love and humbleness toward others.
There is no specific timeframe to fasting. We see in the Bible where people have fasted for a meal, until evening, a day and some even longer. It is not the length in time but, it is a privatematter with the sincerity of heart in seeking God. This will illuminate the soul, discipline the flesh and energize the spirit as we increase our awareness of God. While in His presence ourfaith increases by knowing God is faithful to His word and Heable to perform mightily on our behalf.
Matthew 6:16-18 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Fasting and praying engages our total being. It not onlydisciplines the body by saying no, while refraining from food, but it engages the soul as we intreat and intercede for others to be helped with their needs and burdens. It also connects our spirit with God’s Holy Spirit allowing us time to be in His presence and to receive from Him.