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The Forgotten Spiritual Discipline: Prayer & Fasting

By Pastor John Mateos Ong

On the first complete week of January, we need to commit to prayer and fasting so that when the year opens, we hear God’s voice and our hearts are ready to obey. If we open our Bible the moment we wake up everyday, now, at the beginning of the year, let us start it with fasting and prayer.

Hebrews 4:7 says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.” We are expecting that God will talk to us as we fast. Our second prayer is that when God speaks, we do not harden our hearts.

Matthew 6:16-18 says “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Is fasting required? Fasting actually should not be limited. So many churches are fasting together with us this week, and there is power in that. Matthew 6:16 itself tells you that it is required when it says WHEN you fast, not IF you fast. . Also, it should be done in secret. If you do it properly, there is a reward because the Bible says so. And when the Bible tells it, it never fails.

In Matthew 9:14-17, it says “One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, “Why don’t your disciples fast like we do and the Pharisees do?” Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.” During the time of Jesus and even of David, people were already fasting. And when Jesus was asked why His people did not fast, He told them that it is because He is still here on earth. Now more than ever, we should fast because Jesus is not here on earth. Fasting recharges us, just like a car that needs gas in order to run.

So what it fasting? According to John Piper, fasting is a temporary renunciation of something that is in itself good, like food, in order to intensify our expression of need for something greater namely, God and His work in our lives. Through this, we want to show that God is more important than anything else in our lives.

Why do we need to fast? Fasting is expected of you because it says so in the Bible. Fasting puts you in a very good position for a breathrough. Breakthroughs come in all shapes and sizes, in different kinds of answered prayers! But even if there is no breakthrough, your intimacy with the Lord will have deepened in the process. And that in itself is good enough. Lastly, fasting is good for your health.

2 Chronicles 20:1-5 says “After this, the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites declared war on Jehoshaphat. Messengers came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army from Edom is marching against you from beyond the Dead Sea. They are already at Hazazon-tamar.” (This was another name for En-gedi.) Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting. So people from all the towns of Judah came to Jerusalem to seek the Lord’s help. Jehoshaphat stood before the community of Judah and Jerusalem in front of the new courtyard at the Temple of the Lord.” You may be thinking that you do not have any enemies. But you have personal problems, sins you find hard to give up, debts you still have not paid, people you have not forgiven, children who do not want to go to church-these are your enemies. But no matter how plenty your enemies are, let us ask help from God, call a fast and let God fight your war.

So what happened to Jehoshaphat? 2 Chronicles 20:22-25 tells you that: “At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had destroyed the army of Seir, they began attacking each other. So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped. King Jehoshaphat and his men went out to gather the plunder. They found vast amounts of equipment, clothing, and other valuables—more than they could carry. There was so much plunder that it took them three days just to collect it all!”

Don’t hink about your problems, how sick you are, how big your debt is or how big your problem is. This week, we will bring worship songs and prayers to God our Father and let Him fight our battles.

One time the apostles were trying to cast out a demon but they could not do it. So they called Jesus, and one word from Him and the devil went out of the man. So when they were alone, they asked Jesus why they could not cast out that demon and He did. In Matthew 17:21 Jesus says “Do not underestimate the power of fasting.”

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