Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.(Acts 13.1-4 NIV)
“Fasting along with our prayer requests is not some kind of magic bullet to ensure the answer we want… nor is it a manipulative device. We fast because a condition arises—what we are calling the sacred moment—that leads us to desire something deeply. We fast because our plea is so intense that in the midst of our sacred desire eating seems sacrilegious. A body plea occurs when the unified person gives himself or herself wholly to God to plead for something or someone… Fasting can be a way for the unified person to turn to God to plead with God completely.” (S. McKnight, Fasting, p. 49)
Prayer: Lord, we want to make ourselves completely available to you. Use us and include us in your plans—your plans to bring about salvation to our cities, schools, communities. We plead with you, Lord, bring revival! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing “The Secret Place” by Phil Wickham (AMC MT with P. Jason from Sunday 7/11/21) – click here
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? … Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear… Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”(Isaiah 58.6, 8-9 NIV)
“One further reason for fasting… namely a deliberate doing without in order to share what we might have eaten (or its cost) with the undernourished. There is biblical warrant for this practice… when through Isaiah God condemned the hypocritical fasting of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, his complaint was that they were seeking their own pleasure and oppressing their workers on the very day of their fast. This meant partly that there was no correlation in their mind or actions between the food they did without and the material need of their employees. Theirs was a religion without justice or charity… To have an occasional (or, better, regular) ‘hunger-lunch’… these are forms of fasting which please God because they express a sense of solidarity with the poor.” (J. Stott, Christian Counter-culture, p. 138)
Prayer: Lord, may we practice the kind of fasting that you have chosen—a fasting that expresses and highlights your justice. Empower us through your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing “Rescued/Nothing Can Separate Us” by AMC MT (click here)
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel…”(Nehemiah 1:4-6 NIV)
“In the Bible prayer and fasting frequently occurred together. Bible characters often fasted while in intercessory prayer for others (2 Sam. 12:16-23; Neh. 1:8-10; Ps. 35:13; Dan. 6:18; 9:15-19) or while voicing prayer requests for their own needs (1 Sam. 1:7-11; Neh. 1:11; Ps. 109:21-24; Dan. 9:3; 10:1-3). Leaders prayed and fasted for success in battle (Judg. 20:26; 1 Sam. 7:6; 2 Chron. 20:3), for relief from famine (Jer. 14:1-12; Joel 1:14; 2:12-15), or for success in other endeavors, such as Ezra’s return from the exile (Ezra 8:21-23) or Esther’s success before the king (Esth. 4:16).” (K.D. Berghuis, “A Biblical Perspective on Fasting”)
Take a moment today and look up one or two of the passages noted above. How do prayer and fasting go together?
Prayer: Lord, through prayer and fasting, our desire is to commune with you, to be near you, to hear your voice, to follow your ways. Empower us through your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing and indulge our desires for God’s presence: “Psalm of Thanks” (click here)
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”(Luke 4.1-4 NIV)
“The more I learn from fasting the more I see that Jesus actually stood at his strongest when his belly was empty. Jesus is in peak condition, a fighter who has been training hard… Jesus’ swift and unflinching rebuttal to the devil is to quote from Deuteronomy 8:3: ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.’ … If you never fast, then the whole concept of being wholly nourished and sustained by God’s word will be only a nice, sweet and totally irrelevant idea… And worse: if you never fast, you may not stand when the day of testing and temptation comes. Consumption is killing us. Go fast and live.” (M. Buchanan, “Go Fast and Live: Hunger as Spiritual Discipline”)
Prayer: Lord, fill us with the Holy Spirit. Lead us and we will follow you. Teach us what it means to not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing “The Secret Place” by Phil Wickham (click here)
Let’s read aloud together the following passage, confession and prayer:
Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.”(Matthew 9.14-15 NIV)
“What mercy could be greater, so far as we poor wretches are concerned, than that which pulled the Creator down from heaven… so that He, our Bread, would hunger; that He, our fulfillment, would thirst; that He, our strength, would become weak; that He, our Health, would be wounded; that He, our Life, would die? And all this [He did] to satisfy our hunger, moisten our dryness, soothe our infirmity, wipe out our iniquity, kindle our charity. What mercy could be greater…?” (Augustine, Sermon 207)
Prayer: Lord, there is none like you. We are in awe of you. We long for you. We hunger for you. We know you are with us through your Spirit. But we want more of you. Consume us. Heart, soul, mind and strength—entirely for you. May we follow your Spirit into times of fasting—moving with the move of God. We trust that our abstinence will lead to abundance—abundance of your presence, power and revelation. We believe our subtraction will lead to supernatural, exponential increase. All for your glory, Lord! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing “Waiting Here for You” by Martin Smith (click here)