How to Fast and Pray – Important Steps to Follow
There are many ways to connect with God, ways in which to create a space for a deeper intimacy and open the doors of your heart to allow Him to speak to you and for you to speak to Him. Prayer is communion with the Lord, the coming before the Creator of the Universe to know Him and to share your heart with Him. In response, to know His heart for you and to listen for His voice. Fasting is another way to do this, the act of refraining from an action. Most fasting involves food, but it can be abstaining from electronics, media, an action, or something of your choice. The act of prayer and fasting together creates a space of your life away from an action or distraction and is spent in communion with the Lord God.
The Bible Has Much to Say about Fasting
Often verses we read of men and women in the Bible going into deep war or decision in prayer, it is accompanied by fasting. One of the most famous fasts is the one performed by Daniel in the Book of Daniel.
Daniel 9:3-5 shares, “So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws.” Daniel’s heart ached for his country, so he took a vow of a fast from certain foods and remained deeply in prayer. It continues on in the book that an Angel comes to see Daniel, and the Angel shares that he left the exact moment Daniel started praying. Remarkably, it took twenty-one days for the Angel to get past the forces of Darkness to reach Daniel. This is evidence that from the first moment we commit to a fast, the Lord hears us. He is always working in action to come near to us, and to send help.
The Heart of Fasting Is the Position of the Heart
Whether it is Facebook or fried foods that you are giving up for the Lord, it is the position of the heart that matters the most to God. Like it says in 1 Samuel 15:22, “The Lord looks at the heart of a man, not the outward appearance” and this is true of fasting. Matthew 6:17-18 gives instructions of, “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.” Fasting is not about the show to others, it is about the intimacy and heart position of the person fasting before the Lord God Almighty. In His timing and ways, He will answer.
Even Jesus fasted
During His time, away in the wilderness Jesus fasted for forty days.
Luke 4 shares, “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.”
What is vital to recognize is directly after this time of fasting Jesus began His ministry to the World. Luke 5 begins with Jesus calling His disciples together. This time of fasting and prayer in the wilderness prepared Him for what all was to come. The wilderness and fast were met with temptations from the enemy, Satan, but it was through that temptation and fast that Jesus was made ready for His ministry.
6 Bible Verses about Fasting
1. “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.” – Matthew 6:17-18
2. “The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.’” – Jonah 3:5-9
3. “’Even now,’ declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious andcompassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” – Joel 2:12-13
4. “So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws.” – Daniel 9:3-5
5. “I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.” –Daniel 10:3
6. “Moseswas there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.” – Exodus 34:28
9 Steps for Biblical Fasting
1. Set your heart before the Lord, coming to decide what to omit from your life and for what period of time.
2. Be sensitive to the way of the Spirit for what you should give up, and for how long.
3. Make preparations for the fast. If a food fast, set a game plan to be prepared and well hydrated for your fast.
4. Dedicate time for prayer and quiet time during the fast to not just omit an action or food, but to get the fullness of being before and with God.
5. Journal what you feel the Lord doing or saying to you during this time.
6. List Bible verses to guard yourself from the Enemy’s attacks to pray over yourself during this time.
7. Follow the fast faithfully in heart position most of all.
8. End the fast when the Lord has given you peace for it to end.
9. Be mindful to watch for the hand of the Lord in due time for answers, action, or a new perspective.
Prayer Is the Most Important Part of a Proper Fast
It is not merely refraining from food or an action, but it is coming before the Lord in prayer to hear the Holy Spirit speak to you and work in you. The Bible says this on when to pray, “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). Prayer is communication with God, and it is truly the most important aspect of life. From the Garden of Eden, it has always been God’s heart to have relationship with His creation, and prayer is the vehicle of communication in which that can work. The Father knows your heart; in fact, “the Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). We can rest assured that it need not be the most stunning words ever spoken to Him; He knows what we are trying to communicate. Romans 8:26 shares He can even understand our groans into prayers. The Father desires interaction with His children, and prayer opens the door to just that.
10 Verses on Prayer
1. “On all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” – Ephesians 6:18
2. “The Father knows what you need before you ask Him” – Matthew 6:8
3. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
4. “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” – Colossians 4:2
5. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” – 1 John 5:14
6. “The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.” – Psalm 145:18
7. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16
8. “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” – Matthew 6:6
9. “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” – John 14:33
10. “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16
6 Steps of Prayer
1.Take a deep breath to be still and calm yourself before the Lord.
2. Invite the presence of the Lord, the Holy Spirit to come near you, surrounding you completely. Ask for Him to be with you.
3. Be honest, be truthful, and be vulnerable. He knows all things anyhow (1 John 3:20), so fear not in being open before Him. Share what is going on in your heart and head with your Heavenly Father.
4. Ask the Holy Spirit to help guide your words so that your heart may be even revealed to you.
5. Listen and be still before Him, listening for that still small voice, or for the whispers to your heart. Know that even if there is only silence, your prayer has been heard by the Lord Almighty.
6. Reflect through journal, be watchful for what the Lord is doing and ask for eyes to see and ears to hear all that is being accomplished by the Lord.
How Often Should You Fast and Pray?
There is no perfect formula of when to fast and pray. We are called to pray continuously, to keep that exchange with the Father ever running like a glorious and robust stream. Do not only fast and pray deeply when things are difficult but be sensitive to the Spirit’s urgings as to when to fast and pray. If the Lord is calling you to enter into a time of fasting and prayer, there is a reason for it. He wishes to bring you in closer to see first-hand the work He is setting in motion, and entering into such a dedicated time will reveal to your own heart just how active the Lord is in your life.
Even if you do not see the results for a time, know that not a moment spent in prayer or fasting is in vain. The Lord counts it as sacrifice and it is special to Him; all will come to light in time whether it be on this side of the veil or the next.
The Lord Is Ever Wanting Us to Come to Know Him More
He delights in revealing more of Himself to His children, and through fasting and prayer there is the opportunity to come into the inner heart of the Lord. Setting a proper heart position and intent, knowing that even if it is not our preference that ultimately, He will bring all things together for His glory and our benefit, a time of dedicated fasting and prayer will usher forth action, a changed perspective, or activation. Come before your Father today, be open and sensitive to His call, and trust Him. Take that step out of the boat knowing He has something incredible to reveal to you in His time.