Jesus promised that if we spoke to a mountain (anything that poses as a problem or challenge in our lives), even with a mustard-seed-sized faith, without doubting in our hearts, it would obey us and do whatever we asked it to do, including removing from its place and throwing itself into the sea (figuratively speaking) – Mark 11:23-24 (NIV); Matthew 17:20. In fact, in the first Scripture, He further promised that whatever we asked God for, in prayer, will be done for us. And in the second one, He ended with, “and nothing will be impossible for you.” What, then, are the benefits of fasting and prayer as Christians, you might ask, if we can only speak to a problem and get it solved? 🤔
The important question we find ourselves asking, however, is why is it that when we pray over a sickness or need, which is a mountain in its own right, we don’t always get answers? Come on, let’s face it. Sometimes (if not most times), we pray with so much faith (way bigger than a mustard seed; in our own eyes, at least) and no doubt soever in our hearts?
Here’s something I discovered: When we read these promises, it is important to note those whom Jesus was talking to, including their spiritual states at the time. This is to avoid making the mistake of praying in the name of Jesus “whom Paul preaches,” as the seven sons of Sceva did (see Acts 19:11-20). It is important for us to understand that we need to own these promises before they can work for us. And we cannot own them unless they have been revealed to us by the Spirit (also known as the Holy Spirit), who has been sent to continue the work of Jesus in our lives. And the Holy Spirit cannot reveal them to us unless we seek them. Now, one of such ways (and possibly the surest way) to seek them is by fasting and prayer.
Now, fasting and prayer (which are works) do not improve our chances of being seen and heard by God; otherwise, that will be inconsistent with the doctrine of grace. For by grace are we called, not by works (see Ephesians 2:8-9 ; 2 Timothy 1:9). God sees us, regardless of whether we fast and pray, or do neither. That’s what grace has achieved for us. However, fasting and prayer improve our chances of hearing and seeing God. That’s the biggest benefit of fasting and prayer. That’s why they’re also called ‘seeking God’s face.’ God does not need to seek our faces because they’re never hidden from Him. However, our flesh (human distractions) greatly obscures our express vision of God.
So, in essence, fasting and prayer prepare, not only our spirit, but our flesh, to be properly positioned to hear and see Him in our hearts and spirit. This is why we fast and pray; not to increase our grace (which is complete in itself and need no growth), but to increase our faith. (We grow in grace, but grace in itself does not grow in us – see 2 Peter 3:18. God’s grace is full and complete, requiring no growth. But our faith does need A LOT of growth, and endlessly needs to grow. This can be a topic for another day; maybe titled, ‘Grace Vs Faith.’ 😉)
I carried out a little experiment today (15-02-2020). So, I had been fasting for 48 hours (2 days), eating and drinking nothing but water, and seeking God’s face. I had initially wanted to go on for 72 hours (3 days), but I decided to break it on the second night (I started counting from the last time I ate something, which was 2 nights before.) Before I broke the fast, my body had been so weak that I couldn’t focus so much on the distractions that crossed my mind from time to time. However, after I broke the fast (with a light meal), my body received some strength to begin again to focus on unimportant things that came as thoughts. I was disappointed that my mind had betrayed me, but at the same time intrigued that I had just discovered something.
Mind you, I didn’t intend the above to be an experiment, but it turned out to be one. So, from the time I realized what was happening, I began to consciously and deliberately ward off those distractions as they came. Now, what had I discovered? I discovered that, if I had continued with the fast, my flesh would probably be starved just enough to discourage it from entertaining unwanted/unnecessary thoughts that would sap my strength further. No wonder the Apostle, Paul, says, in order words, to starve the flesh and feed the spirit – Galatians 5:16-18; Romans 8:5; Romans 13:14. We do that by fasting and praying, respectively. The praying part includes all forms of worship that causes our spirit to engage with God’s spirit, including, but not limited to, studying the Word, singing a prayer, praying in words of men, praying in words of the Spirit (if you can) – Ephesians 6:18, singing in worship to God (in the words of men or the Spirit, if you can). The goal is not to try to use what you don’t have yet, but to use what you do have to reach out and connect with Divinity. And when Divinity meets with humanity, church happens.
The outcome of fasting as described is something beautiful and amazing, and everybody should experience it. And when we experience this, we will begin to taste the superpower of prayer. For then, the Holy Spirit will begin to reveal to us those promises of Jesus (see first paragraph) in the way that will make sense to us on a personal level, so we can begin to own them. “For the letter [unrevealed word] killeth, but the spirit [revealed word] giveth life.” – 2 Corinthians 3:6, brackets mine
As a postscript to this, fasting does also have a lot of physical health benefits, including cellular repair, and possibly, delaying aging. In fact, a 48-hour fast, done 1-2 times monthly, in combination with healthy dietary habits, can help you reach your weight loss goals quicker. You can read more of that here.
Do you hear God speaking to you today through this lesson? Please, leave a comment or question; your comment/question might be a blessing to someone. You could also contact us through our contact page.
Go to the miracle lessons page for the other miracle lessons.
I was around 5 when, I am strongly convinced, I first heard the distinct voice of God. But, not until I was 11 (2002) did I have a personal encounter with Him. I was in my room that night, about to pray before bed, when I saw a revelation of how filthy my heart was. I didn't argue with God that I was too young to have such amount of filth ('cause I believed I was a 'good boy,' by human standards, at least). I simply cried uncontrollably in brokenness of heart - "The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God" (Psalm 51:17) - and He didn't.
Still crying uncontrollably, I left my room and went to the living room, where my parents were watching the nightly news on TV. After I managed to tell them about the revelation I saw, my sweet mum took me to her room and led me to Christ. I got saved that night. And 6 years later, I discovered my purpose and assignment on earth, which is raising up men and women to be godly, and teaching them the simplicity of Christianity. More than a decade later, I am still fulfilling that purpose to His glory. Hallelujah!