There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.”
So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer. On the twelfth day of the first month we set out from the Ahava Canal to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way. So we arrived in Jerusalem. (Ezra 8:21-23, 31-32a)
It’s GAMETIME! Ezra has a mighty mission he’s leading and he leans into how he’s prepared. As a difference maker, not only did Ezra pray, but we read Ezra’s words, “I proclaimed a fast!” He led the exiles returning to Jerusalem in fasting and petitioning God…and God answered their prayers.
So many of us pray every now and then. Maybe more when we, or someone we know, is going through a difficult time. A cancer diagnosis. Divorce. Kids misbehaving. Death of a loved one. Losing a job. For a lot of us, fasting is not even on our radar.
HOWEVER, Difference Makers prove they are ready and committed in how they PRAY and FAST.
You see, prayer is so much more than getting what we want or need. God already knows what we need. He’s just waiting for us to ask Him!
Prayer is the proving God that our entire lives and our needs are dependent on Him. It’s how we prove that we know WHO we are and WHOSE we are. It’s humbling ourselves before God, proving we are dependent on Him in all things. The more we need God, the more we will seek after Him.
Prayer is also the place that God does the transforming work that He wants to do in us. That’s why the more we pray, the more our prayers change.
"Fasting can bring breakthroughs in the spiritual realm that will never happen in any other way. It is a means of God's grace and blessing that should not be neglected any longer." - Richard Foster, The Celebration of Discipline
Fasting is a spiritual discipline. It literally means “not to eat” or “no food”.
So why fast? Here are 8 reasons why:
- Jesus expects us to
- To humble ourselves before God
- For repentance
- For spiritual strength
- To strengthen our prayers
- To express our love and worship to God
- For guidance and help in making important decisions
- To draw closer to God and separating ourselves from the world.
LET’S GET PRACTICAL!
Here are 4 “how to” steps to prayer and fasting:
- Set your objective: Decide what you are going to pray and fast for. What is stirring in your soul? While fasting, pray about that!
- Make your commitment: Commit to the kind and length of the fast you’ll take.
- Put yourself on a schedule: Just like we make plans for all kinds of things (financial, education, social, kids’ activities), we need a plan for prayer and fasting. It doesn’t take rocket science or a seminary degree. Simply put it on your calendar and stick to it!
- Expect results: God will send the rain when He’s ready to. Choose to prepare for the rain, rather than waiting for it to come. Pray in faith, expecting God to move…He’ll show up. God will protect you…just ask Him to!
Are you ready and committed to be a difference maker by how you fast and pray?