As I prayed for my son to be delivered from his drug addiction, I was keenly aware of the intense spiritual battle going on. Charlie was in bondage to his flesh and to spiritual forces of darkness that had gained power in his life. No amount of effort on his part would have set him free. Freedom from spiritual bondage requires spiritual warfare through prayer.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12)
However, sometimes prayer alone is not enough to break the spiritual strongholds. Once, Jesus’ disciples prayed, but they were not able to cast a demon out of a young boy. When they asked Jesus why their prayers were ineffective, He said, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29).
Few churches talk about fasting anymore. Our me-centered, self-gratifying culture doesn’t want to hear about depriving the flesh! And yet fasting was a regular part of the lives of our spiritual forefathers. Jesus prepared for His own public ministry by fasting for forty days and nights. He also taught about fasting as a regular part of the life of a Jewish believer.
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matt. 6:16–18 NIV)
Fasting was not something that Jesus commanded us to do, but He did say that fasting with a right spirit would bring reward. It causes us to draw closer to Him and helps us to hear His voice more clearly. There is no set formula telling us how long to fast, and there are many different ways to fast. The important thing is to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading.
In my own life, times of fasting have brought tremendous growth and breakthrough. Did fasting cause my son to be delivered from drugs? No, I don’t believe we have that kind of power. Prayer and fasting simply enlarges our faith to be able to receive God’s highest will. The key to answered prayer through fasting is not asking for something from God, but rather simply asking for more of Him.
Fasting changes our focus from the earthly to the heavenly. As we fix our hearts on God, our faith begins to grow. When we feel physically hungry, we can declare to the Lord that we love Him more than the food our bodies crave. As we subdue the flesh, our spiritual sight becomes more focused and so do our prayers. When we pray in agreement with God’s Spirit, the mountains in our lives will surely move!
Do you have a mountain that needs to move? Do you need direction in your life or strength for a trying situation? Perhaps you have a loved one who needs the Lord or a friend who is struggling with a life-threatening disease. If you are overwhelmed with an earthly need, I encourage you to reach higher and ask for more of God. He will bless you with His presence, His comfort, His power, and His guidance.
As you fast you will begin to clearly hear from God and breakthroughs will take place. You will experience God’s love more intensely as your physical hunger is replaced with spiritual hunger. Jesus said that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed and they will be filled!
Father, I come to You with many needs and desires. My struggles are sometimes more than I can bear. Please give me the grace to fast and pray for Your answers, not mine. I trust You to give me Your very best as I seek You first. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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