PRAYER AND FASTING BI-217
- Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 19:17
A PRAYER HEARING GOD
Our God is a God who hears and answers prayers. Prayer hearing is one of His attributes, a part of His nature. God's holiness and His righteousness never vary. He is always holy and always righteous.
- What is needed when praying to God?
Ref.: Hebrews 11:6
- What is God to those who seek Him?
Ref.: Hebrews 11:6
- How must we seek God?
- In Malachi 3:6, what is one of the attributes of God?
- In 1 Kings 18, what prayer did God answer?
- In Joshua 10, what prayer did God answer?
Note: The following are seven attributes of God to remember:
- A prayer hearing God is a LIVING God.
- He is an ALL KNOWING GOD God (Omniscience).
- He is an ALL POWERFUL God (Omnipotent).
- He himself is the CREATOR.
- He is a MIRACLE WORKING God.
- He is a God of INFINITE LOVE AND MERCY.
- He is EVERYWHERE at the same time (Omnipresent).
HINDRANCES TO PRAYER
In 1 Peter 3:7 we read: "...that your prayers be not hindered." The normal Christian life is a life of regular answers to prayer; however, we must be very careful, for there are certain hindrances to prayer that must be considered.
- Name the hindrances to prayer in the following Scripture references:
- A. 1 Peter 3:7
- B. Isaiah 59:1-2
- C. 1 Peter 3:12
- D. Psalms 66:18
- E. Matthew 5:23-24
- F. 1 Samuel 15:22-23
- G. Proverbs 28:9
- H. Read Psalms 1:1-3
HOW TO GET HINDRANCES TO PRAYER REMOVED
We thank God that there is a remedy. HINDRANCES can be torn down. We can know that there is nothing between our soul and our Savior.
- In 1 John 1:9, what is the first step in removing hindrances to prayer?
- When we make the first step, what does God do in return?
- According to 2 Corinthians 7:10, what worketh true repentance?
- What is the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow?
- Should we give in to our feelings not to pray? Read Luke 18:1
- How often are we to pray? Read 1 Thessalonians 5:17
- Who are we commanded to pray for? 1 Timothy 2:1
- What do we pray for according to Philippians 4:6?
- Is the lack of prayer sin? 1 Samuel 12:23
PRAYER IS ASKING
Some people pray and do not receive because they do not expect to receive. They only pray to have it said that they pray.
- What happens when we ASK? Matthew 7:7
- In James 4:2-3, what do you think it means to ask "amiss?"
- A. Is "praise" prayer? Psalms 50:23
B. Is prayer "adoration?" Psalms 103:1
C. Is prayer "meditation?" Psalms 1:2
D. Is prayer "humiliation?" 2 Chronicles 7:14
E. Is confession separate from prayer? Daniel 9:4
- What was the prayer in the following Scriptures?
- Luke 18:14
- Matthew 14:30
- Mark 10:47
- Mark 10:51
- Luke 23:42
YOU CAN RECEIVE
- In Matthew 7:7, what is the promise given to us if we "ask, seek, and knock?"
- What must we do in order to receive the desires of our heart? Psalms 37:4
- In John 15:7, what is the condition to receiving an answer to prayer?
- Who helps us pray? Romans 8:26-27
- What was the promise that Jesus gave to His disciples? John 14:16, 26
- What command did Jesus give to His disciples in Luke 24:49?
- What was the purpose of the experience in Acts 1:8?
HAVE FAITH IN GOD
In this lesson the great importance of FAITH is emphasized. No one can please God without having faith. We are commanded to have faith in God. Unbelief is sin. No one can come to God unless he first believes that there is a God, and then one must believe that God answers prayers.
- What command did Jesus give in Mark 11:22?
- In John 20:27, what did Jesus tell Thomas in reference to faith?
- What does God attribute unbelief to in Hebrews 3:12?
- Although Christ performed miracles, why do you think the Jews still did not believe? John 12:37-40
- What does the Bible say that faith is? Hebrews 11:1
- What is the promise to them that believe? John 3:36
- What are we admonished to do in 1 John 4:1?
Whenever we pray, we must make our request DEFINITE. In other words: be specific. Our Lord taught us to specifically pray "Give us this day our daily bread." Not "some day," but "this day."
- In Luke 11:1, what did the disciples ask of Jesus?
- In Judges 6:36-37, was Gideon very definite in his asking? What was the fleece that he put out?
- In the servant's prayer in Genesis 24:12-14, what was he definitely asking for Isaac?
- What was Hannah's prayer in 1 Samuel 1:10-13?
- In 1 Samuel 1:11, why did Hannah want a son? What was her motive?
- In Romans 8:26, who maketh intercession for us and helps our infirmities?
In all of the Epistles not one time is the church told to fast. This does not mean that we should not fast. Mention is made of fasting, but no rules are laid down, nor is the church encouraged to fast. The reason is - fasting is to be done as the occasion arises.
Fasting does not change God; He is the same before, during, and after you fast. But fasting will change you. It will help you keep the flesh under. It will help you become more sensitive to the Spirit of God.
It is good to fast when things are pressing in on you and you need to wait on God prayerfully, or the Lord may speak to you and lead you fast. If the Lord lays a fast on your heart, do it! The longest that you should fast is three days. The Bible list the reasons for fasting: (1) To minister to the Lord; (2) To lay hands on ministers to send them forth; (3) To draw close to God in times of danger. These are scriptural reasons; you don't need to fast to defeat the devil. Jesus has already won that victory for us.
FASTING: A LOOK AT THE OLD TESTAMENT
Fasting has in all ages and among all nations been as exercise much in use in times of mourning, sorrow, and afflictions. Yet there is no Bible example of fasting to be seen before the time of Moses. Although the Bible does not say so, it is presumed that the patriarchs of old fasted until Moses' time. It is interesting to notice that Moses enjoined no particular fast in his five books, except upon the solemn Day of Atonement.
In Leviticus 23:37, Moses talks about "afflicting your souls." In Hebrew this means, "Ye shall humble yourselves deeply before God inwardly by sorrow, and by judging and loathing yourselves; and outwardly by fasting and abstinence from all carnal comforts and delights." This fast is the only one Moses enjoined, although the Jews did fast at other times for periods of 24 hours; from sundown one day to the sundown of the next day.
Since the time of Moses examples of fasting have been common among the Jews. Most of these however, were from morning until evening; about 12 hours. A mistake many people make in teaching on fasting is picking out isolated portions of Scripture and misconstruing them. Any Bible subject can be pushed out of context and do more harm than good. Some writers leave the impression everyone should go on a 40-day fast. They use the illustration that Moses fasted 40-days on Mount Horeb. But consider this: Moses was in the very presence of God, talking to Him. The Scripture says that God appeared to him. The glory of God was there, and Moses was caught up in it. He could well go without food or water. If you were in the very presence of God you could go without food for 40-days also.
The only one whom the Bible ever said fasted for 40 days was Jesus. In Matthew 4:2 the Bible says: "And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward He was hungered." There is a clue here. Matthew 4:1 says He was "led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." So He was led by the Spirit and ministered to by angels.
- How long did Joshua and the leaders lay on their faces in fasting and prayer Before the Lord in Joshua 7:6?
- How long did Moses fast in the presence if the Lord God according to Exodus 34:28?
- Did Elijah really fast for 40 days? 1 Kings 19:7
FASTING: A LOOK AT THE NEW TESTAMENT
Nowhere in the New Testament did Jesus institute any kind of fast. In His commands to His disciples Jesus never enjoined the fast to be kept. Paul said that he fasted, but in all of his letters to the church, starting with Romans, there is not a single reference telling the church to fast. We are encouraged to pray, but in connection with demonic activity, healing, or anything else, we are not told to fast.
Fasting, then, must not be as important as some would lead you to believe. There would have to be some kind of instruction to the church if it were. There are instructions of the gifts of the Spirit, praying, and giving, but none on fasting.
- What did Jesus tell His disciples about fasting in Like 5:33-35?
- What does Jesus say about a person who brags or puts on the outer appearance of fasting in Matthew 6:16?
- According to Jesus, what should we do when we fast according to Matthew 6:17-18?
FASTING IN THE BOOK OF ACTS
The Word of God mentions fasting again in the Book of Acts; nevertheless, there is no direction given to the church on when to fast. The Bible says in Acts 10 that Cornelius was fasting; however, he wasn't even saved at the time. Being a Jewish proselyte, he naturally fasted because the Jews did.
We have further references to fasting in Acts chapters 13 and 14. In each of these Scriptures, elders were being ordained. It's good for people to fast and miss one meal. It is a good thing to fast before you pray for the sick. But it doesn't mean the apostles went on a long fast.
We find two other references to fasting in Acts 27. When Paul says the fast was over and sailing was dangerous, he is referring to the second day of the tenth month - the time of Atonement - which was a Jewish time of fasting. Many Jews in the early church, even though they were born-again and Spirit-filled, still kept the traditions of the Jewish religion.
- In Acts 27:33-34, what is Paul referring to in reference to fasting?
- After the saints had fasted and prayed, what did the Holy Spirit tell them in Acts 13:1-2?
- In Acts 13:3, what did the saints do after they had obeyed the Holy Spirit?
YOU MUST HAVE A PURPOSE WHEN YOU FAST
As mentioned before, it seems in the New Testament that people fasted under the following conditions: to minister to the Lord, to ordain men and women to the ministry, or to seek God in times of extreme danger. You must have a purpose when fasting. Don't fast just because someone tells you to.