Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Biblical Examples of Prayer & Fasting

Biblical Examples of Prayer & Fasting
Collected and Summarized by Lora Miller

1 Samuel 7:6 - Samuel judges Israel and tells them to turn from idol worship. The Children of Israel gather at Mizpah and pray and fast as an act of repentance.
1 Kings 21:17-29 - Elijah is sent by the Lord to Ahab, King of Israel, to condemn him for murdering Naboth and stealing his vineyard. When Ahab heard these words of condemnation, he fasted and lay in sackcloth. The Lord then spoke to Elijah to go to Ahab and tell him that since he had humbled himself in the sight of the Lord, the calamity would not come in his days but in the days of his son.
2 Chronicles 20:3 - The people of Moab and the Ammonites came to battle against Jehoshaphat. He fears Judah’s destruction and seeks the Lord by proclaiming a time of fasting and prayer throughout Judah. Because of this, Lord gives them a miraculous victory.
Ezra 8:21-23 - As Judah returns to Israel from Babylon, Ezra declares a fast to “humble themselves before the Lord” that He would show them “the right way for them and their little ones and all their possessions.”
Nehemiah 1:4 - When Nehemiah hears that the walls of Jerusalem are broken down and that it’s gates are burned with fire, he prays and fasts. His prayer is both a prayer of repentance and a prayer for God’s restoration.
Esther 4:3-16 - Haman conspires to make King Ahasuerus sign the decree that he will kill all the Jews. Queen Esther, her maids and all the Jews in Shushan fast and pray for the Lord’s favor. God delivers the Jews and Haman is executed.
Daniel 1:8 - Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Mishach, and Abed-Nego were put under the chief of eunuchs during their captivity in Babylon. Daniel and his friends refuse to eat the delicacies of King Nebuchadnezzer’s table because they “refused to defile themselves.” During this fast of purity they ate only vegetables and drank only water. God honored their purity and they were stronger and healthier than all the other men.
Daniel 6:18 - When Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den, King Darius spent the night in prayer and fasting for Daniel’s safety and deliverance. The king’s prayers were answered and Daniel was guarded by an angel.
Daniel 9:3 - Daniel reflects on prophecy given by Jeremiah and understands that Judah will soon be lead out of Babylon back to Jerusalem. He “sets his face toward God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, ….”
Joel 2:12-16 - God gives the people of Judah a call to repentance in prayer and fasting through the prophet Joel. Fasting and prayer in this passage is seen as a turning back to God and purifying of the heart from sin
Jonah 3:5 – The prophet Jonah preaches to the people of Nineveh, predicting their doom, but the people believe in God and proclaimed a fast. During this fast, neither man nor beast was permitted to eat or drink and “God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring on them and He did not do it.”
Matthew 4:1-11 – Jesus fasts for forty days and forty nights and is tempted by Satan.
Mark 1:12-13 – Same as above.
Luke 4: 1-14 – Same as above.
(Note: v1. Lead by the Spirit // v14. In the POWER of the Spirit)
Luke 2:37 – Anna, a prophetess, lived in the temple. She “served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” She saw the redeemer with her own eyes and “spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”
Acts 9:9 – God struck Saul blind on the road to Damascus. During his three-day period of blindness, Saul neither ate nor drank.
Acts 10:30 – Cornelius was fasting and praying when an angel appeared to him. The angel tells Cornelius to send for Peter and when Peter comes and preaches the gospel to these Gentiles, the Holy Spirit falls. This was the first instance of the Holy Spirit falling on the Gentiles.
Acts 13:1-3 – The leaders at the church in Antioch fast, pray, and set Saul and Barnabas apart for the work God had for them to do. “Then having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.” **
Acts 14:23 – Paul and Barnabas follow the same pattern in which they were sent out to appoint elders in every church. They “prayed with fasting, (and) they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”***
1 Corinthians 7:5 – Paul teaches that married couples are not to deprive one another except in times of prayer and fasting.
2 Corinthians 6:5 – As Paul speaks of all his hardships, he mentions his times of fasting and prayer.
2 Corinthians 11:27 – Paul speaks again of his commitment to a fasting lifestyle as he speaks of the many things he endures as a minister of Christ.

**Kingdom Dynamics at Acts 13: Prayer and Fasting Birth Signs and Wonders. The signs and wonders ministry of Paul and Barnabas were birthed as church leaders prayed, fasted, and sought the Lord. After the Holy Spirit Himself had called the two men, the leaders laid hands upon them and sent them forth. Later, Paul and Barnabas followed that same pattern, traveling from city to city, strengthening disciples and ordaining elders in the churches. What is that pattern? Disciplined fasting and prayer.

***Leadership Traits. Leaders of the early church arrived at decisions only after fasting and prayer. In Antioch the prophets and teachers fasted and prayed, seeking God’s direction for the church. While they waited on God, the Holy Spirit gave direction, thus beginning the missionary ministry, which eventually took the gospel to the whole world. Godly leaders rely on God for the direction and the empowering of their lives and ministry. Disciplined fasting and constant prayer are proven means for this, and as such, are mandatory in the lives of leaders.

Jesus teaches on prayer and fasting:
Matthew 6:16-18 – (16) WHEN you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. (17) But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, (18) so that you so not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Matthew 9:15, Luke 5:33-35, and Mark 2:18-20 –(18) The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why so the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast? (19) And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. (20) But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them and then they will fast.

Mark 9:14-29 –Jesus heals the boy with epileptic and mute spirit and says “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.

Acts 13:2 Ministered translates a verb used of the official service of priests. Here it speaks of their ministry of public worship. They fasted: Fasting is a spiritual exercise, a voluntary restraint from food for the purpose of seeking God. This practice was encouraged by Jesus’ own teaching (Matt. 9:15; Luke 5:35).

Recommended Reading Related to Fasting

  • Lost Art of Intercession

  • The Hidden Power of Prayer&Fasting

  • God's Chosen Fast

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