Prayer and Fasting

FBCGrotonSermon Outlines

The Prayer and Fasting ministry of First Baptist started in January of 2013. Typically we fast for 24 hours on the last Saturday of each month. The fast will normally begins after the evening meal on Friday at 6pm and will end at 6pm on Saturday. The Fast Day is concluded with a prayer meeting at the church on Saturday at 6pm. We encourage you to partner with us to pray for our nation.

THREE REASONS TO FAST

1. DEVOTION
Fasting is an avenue through which to express our love to Christ including a longing for His return. Matthew 9:14-15, Then came to him the disciples of John, saying (to Christ), “Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?” And Jesus said unto them, “Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.”

John’s disciples were influenced by John to fast (Mt 11:18). Christ’s disciples were taught to keep their fasting private and to manage their appearance (Mt 6). It would be incorrect to conclude that they never fasted. It’s not that the Lord’s disciples did not fast. Rather, by comparison, John’s disciples fasted often particularly at this time because John had been arrested, jailed, and soon to be martyred. There was sorrow, unrest, and a genuine concern for John’s welfare. Consequently it was a time of mourning for John’s disciples but conversely so for the Lord’s disciples. However the Lord’s disciples would soon feel that which John’s disciples were then feeling. Note: “But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.” The thought of Christ’s death troubled the disciples (Jn 13:33-14:3) but His imminent return is our comforting hope. Until then we can express our love and our longing for His promised return through prayer and fasting. Application: The church age is a seasonable time to fast.

Illustration: John 16:5-6; 16-22. The joy of the Lord did not negate the sorrow of Christ’s promised death and temporary physical absence. I am happily married but when my wife is absent for any length of time there is travail. Prayer and fasting is a means through which to express our emotions, our longing, and our love for Him who has promised to return.

2. DEPENDENCE
Prayer and fasting is an avenue through to increase our faith and dependence upon God for a miracle. Matthew 17:14-21, And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and 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 suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

In the text the disciples said to Jesus, “Why could not we cast him out?” The Lord answers their question by pointing out their problem…unbelief! This kind of (devil, deliverance, dilemma) will not GO OUT but by prayer and fasting. Faith and spiritual power is increased mightily through prayer and fasting by which the impossible is accomplished.

3. DESTRUCTION
Pending judgment is a reason to fast. Joel 1:4, “That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.”

The prophet Joel warned Judah of the judgment of God and the destruction of the land. The land will be laid waste by a devouring band of locusts. After declaring and describing the devastation of the land he calls for a fast in Joel 1:14-15, Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD, Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.”

Illustration: Jonah finally entered Nineveh and declared the Word of the Lord. Jonah 3:4, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Nineveh’s response in verse 5, “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” And in Jonah 3:5, “Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.”

America is in trouble! We must sound the alarm, blow the trumpet, and rally the people of God to proclaim a fast.

Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.

Joel warns and calls a second time for a fast in 2:15-17, Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?”

THREE TYPES OF FASTS

Matthew 6:16-18, “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” Prayer and fasting is not an attempt to impress God or anyone else for that matter. Prayer and fasting is a penitent plea for mercy. Fasting is a means to move God’s hand! Note the illustrations below:

  • Moses fasted 40 days on behalf of the Children of Israel. He moved God’s hand to spare their lives. (Ex 32:14; 34:27-35)
  • Ahab’s life was spared in 1Kings 22:17-19; 27-29
  • 1Samuel 7:3-15 says that because of prayer and fasting God restored all the cities which the Philistines had taken form Israel and there was peace. When? Verse 13 “…all the days of Samuel.”
  • The king of Nineveh declared a city-wide fast which moved God’s hand to spare the city from total destruction. Jonah 3:10, “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.”
  • Esther’s fast moved God’s hand to spare a remnant of exiled Jews from extinction. Esther 4:15-16, “Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.”

1. THE TOTAL FAST
The total fast is one in which a person eats or drinks nothing. The maximum time for this type of fast is 3 days. If a person goes beyond 3 days without water he faces serious health risks. An example of a total fast is found in the Book of Esther. Esther declared and observed a 3 day fast that excluded food and water. Esther 4:16, “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.”

2. THE WATER FAST
The water fast involves abstention from food. Perhaps the Lord observed this type of fast in the wilderness though it is silent. Matthew 4:1-2, “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.”

The Bible does not say that Jesus did not drink water during His 40 day fast. It is humanly impossible to survive without water. NOTE: A person can survive only three to five days without water, in some rare cases people have survived for one week. It is not recommended that anyone try this at home. Once the body is deprived of fluids the cells and organs in the body begin to deteriorate. The presence of water in the body could mean the difference between life and death. When you observe this type of fast it is best if you drink plenty of water daily. A health nutritionist once told me to divide your body weight by 4 for the minimum daily requirement of water in ounces. This is one of the best ways to flush all the poisons/toxins out of your system.

3. THE DANIEL FAST
The “Daniel Fast” is based upon Daniel’s 21 day fast in Daniel 10. Daniel 10:3, “I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.” “Pleasant bread” is commonly defined as the “bread of desires.” In other words it was Babylon’s finest. Daniel chose not to eat the desirable bread of Babylon or the choice foods that were prepared for him in the courts of the princes. There is no indication that he ate any type of food during his 21 day fast. However those who observe the “Daniel Fast” commonly eat fruits and vegetables. WARNING: There are people with health concerns who are unable to do a “Total Fast” or a “Water Fast” but can participate in the “Daniel Fast.” Regardless of the type of fast you choose if you are fasting unto to the Lord you can expect to move the hand of God. The length of the fast or the type of fast is not the most important aspect. Below is what I consider most important:

  • Fast with proper physical health information.
  • Fast with proper Biblical instruction.
  • Fast with proper motive (Mt 6:16-18; Isaiah 58:1-12)

FASTING GUIDELINES

1. Have Purpose
See Isaiah 58:1-12. A must read! Israel’s fast was impure, vain, and selfish. No real purpose consequently the Lord said in verse 5, “Is it such a fast that I have chosen?” After you decide the type and length of fast determine the purpose for your fast. See lesson “Three Reasons to Fast.”

2. Stay Focused
As much as possible remove worldly distractions. If you are working during your fast set aside find a quiet place at lunch time where you can be alone to read your Bible and pray. At home turn off the television and spend the time you normally would be eating your meal in prayer. Dedicated as much time as possible to Bible reading, prayer, and waiting upon the Lord. During the fast you may become weak and not feel like praying if this happens don’t become discouraged but keep in mind that the fasting process is a constant prayer unto God.

3. Make a List
Write down urgent/important needs and pray specifically over each of them during your fast.

4. Prepare Yourself
Several days leading up to your fast start eating smaller portions of food. Stop drinking liquids containing caffeine and cut down on desserts and foods containing a high concentration of sugar.

5. Drink Plenty of Water
On the first day of your fast try to drink as much purified or distill water as possible and continue to drink plenty of water throughout your fast.

6. Consult your PC Doctor
If you have a medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or a chronic health problem be sure to consult a doctor before starting your fast. You may want to limit your food intake to one salad on the day you fast or to eating only vegetables.

7. Avoid Acidic Juices
If you drink fruit juices avoid the acidic juices like orange and grapefruit juices.

8.Breaking your Fast
It is very important that you break your fast properly to avoid injuring your stomach. Start by drinking diluted juices, eating things like oatmeal, chicken broth and soups. Take as much time to break your fast especially in adding meat back in your diet as the length of your fast. During your time of fasting your stomach has been dormant. To regain your regularity eat soft foods with fiber. If the fastest seven days or less can be broken by eating whole fresh fruit for two or three meals on the first day; light soups on the second day; green vegetables on the third day; and your regular diet from that point forward. Even after a short fast of two or three days break your fast gradually eating soups and light meals.