Sometimes we let the cares of the world get in the way of what is truly important. We can forget the basics in our spiritual growth, such as how to pray and fast. God will enable you to experience His command to “pray without ceasing” (Php 4:6) as you seek His presence through prayer and fasting. There is not one without the other. Fasting and prayer go hand in hand. Fasting without prayer is merely denying oneself of natural food, according to Thayer’s Bible dictionary definition on fasting. Thayer’s definition is to “abstain as a religious exercise from food and drink: either entirely, if the fast lasted but a single day, or from customary and choice nourishment, if it continued several days.”
By just fasting alone, one may physically change, but the inward man is what God is concerned about transforming (Rom 12:2). He wants the inside to be cleaned and is not merely as concerned with the outside being cleansed (Matt 2:26). Therefore the inner man is what we should be concerned with renewing day by day since it is eternal (2Cor 4:16).
The power of prayer shuts heavens, parts seas, gives sight to the blind, casts out demons, heals the sick, and raises people from the dead. If only we realized and believed the power we have within us, which becomes available to us through fasting and prayer in the name of Jesus. Such things as doubting, fear, and anxiety could not creep their way in because darkness cannot stand in the presence of light (John 1:5). But when one attempts to walk in an authority that calls for fasting and prayer, success is not always their result without it. Take the example of the disciples when they were trying to cast out the unclean spirit from the young boy who had been battling with the spirit from a young age. The disciples did as they could, but only Jesus was able to cast out the deaf and dumb spirit that was tormenting the young boy. When the disciples of Jesus asked why they were unable to cast this one out, Jesus replied to them and said “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting” (Mar 9:29, emphasis added). This shows us that there is a greater work that can be accomplished by the twofold power of prayer and fasting.
But what is prayer? According to Strong’s concordance of the Bible, the definition of prayer is “worship; by implication an oratory chapel.” 1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us that we are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in us. If God is dwelling within us, then we are to pray as the Lord has exemplified for us.
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen (Matt 6:9-13).
As we observe from the Lord’s Prayer above, we see Him praying to the Father in heaven. He did not pray about frivolous things or cares of the world. He exemplified a kingdom prayer and prayed for God’s will to be done. Prayer allows us that intimate time with God as we press to see His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We begin to see God’s great provision and will for our lives with the more time we spend with Him through prayer and fasting. Think of a relationship: the more time you spend with your significant other, the more you know them; and the more you know them, the more you are able to become like them. We should all be aspiring and renewing ourselves to become perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matt 5:48). As we are being transformed to embody the character of God, we come in His likeness and presence with His authority and power. Jesus tells us about the power of prayer when He said,
“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:20.
He is giving us the keys to open and close the heavens if we come in His name. In Hebrew thought, the word name speaks of character and function. If we are coming in His character and function, walking in who He is, we have the same authority and power He has through prayer and fasting.
On this road to becoming more like our heavenly Father through intimacy from prayer and fasting, we have His characteristics and ability to resist all temptations that lead us away from who God is. Jesus was able and willing to resist the devil when He came to Him after His 40 days of fasting and prayer with the Lord (Matt 4:1-11).
In Matthew 6:16 and 6:6-8, there is a beautiful instruction that one who prays and fasts does not do it onto themselves but unto the Lord and to serve the whole house, which is the church of Christ. Therefore, prayer and fasting is not to be done or to be seen by all, because then the reward will have already been given. When in prayer and fasting you are in battle for the church, raising up incense to the Lord as an offering at the altar.
The burning of the incense was symbolic for the prayer of the saints lifted up to God (Psalm 141:2; Revelation 5:8; 8:3–4). The Lord has chosen leaders and intercessors for the house of God. Those chosen are to battle for those who are suffering, who are sick and for sins to be forgiven (Jas 5:13-16).
In closing, here is another in-depth understanding given to us by the early church father Origen on the benefits of prayer and fasting.
“But those who cultivate chastity, devote themselves to “fasting and prayer” (cf. Lk 2:37), have patience in adversity like Job, and in temptations are not afraid to confess the truth of God – all of which are of no benefit to others but only to the glory of God -: these are what constitute the ointment which anoints the head of the Lord Christ and from there flows over the whole body of Christ, that is, over the whole church. This is thevery precious ointment whose fragrance fills the whole house, the church of Christ.”
NKJV Bible Scriptures
Strong’s Bible Dictionary
Thayer’s Bible Dictionary
Origen: Spirit and Fire Pg. 202
Prayer and Fasting