This Christian Journey:
Prayer and Fasting
Dr. Walter D. Huyck Jr. D. Min. D.R.S.
Unit Two, Unit Three,
THE METHOD OF PRAYER
There are two essential elements that provide the vital
Spiritual nourishment that helps keep Christians close to God. One might think
of these as spiritual vitamins. The
first is the Word of God, and the second is prayer. Sever either one from a
Christian’s life, and a carnal (worldly) Christian is the outcome.
One of the major problems in Christianity today is that many
Christians never really learn to pray, and without prayer one cannot mature into
the spiritual Christian that God wants them to be. The need for a proper
Scriptural understanding of prayer cannot be over emphasized; it is critical to
The focus of this unit will be to study, in depth, what Jesus
had to say about prayer, but before we begin this study, record what you
currently think about prayer.
1. What is your personal definition of prayer?
2. What are the goals of prayer?
3. Can you think of anything that should not be a part of our
Most people have some type of method to their prayers. Some
people have developed good methods, while others practice a ritual that merely
helps them feel better about themselves and God. So, the question is what should
our method of prayer be?
Jesus taught His disciples to pray and actually gave them a
method to follow. We find this recorded in Matthew 6.9-13 and Luke
Take a moment to read both of these passages carefully.
4. Why did Jesus present this prayer to His disciples?
Notice that Jesus actually said "when ye pray, SAY . .
." Jesus was actually giving the
disciples a specific prayer to pray, and this prayer is our example. So, let's
study it carefully.
THE RECOGNITION OF PRAYER
5. What do you think is meant when one states "our Father
which art in heaven"?
6. What do you think "hallowed be thy name" implies?
The first step in the process of prayer is for one to
recognize and know to whom they are approaching. Since the word prayer actually
means "to make a request humbly" [Webster's], then a prayer can actually be
presented to about anyone. However, when a Christian prays, they intend to
address Almighty-God and must, themselves, understand to whom they
approach. This is why the Bible tells us to "come boldly unto the throne
of Grace . . ." (Hebrews 4.16).
As we approach God in prayer, it is important that we approach
Him with the right attitude and understanding.
God is our Heavenly Father
and loves us unconditionally, but God is also the all-powerful (omnipotent)
creator and sustainer of all things.
God is holy, just and pure and is worthy of the highest honor and regard.
Yet God is also personal, graceful and compassionate and longs for us to
seek His presence in our lives.
As we prayerfully approach God, we must recognize to whom we
are coming with our requests.
THE VISION OF PRAYER
7. What do you feel is meant by the phrase "thy kingdom
It ought to be every Christian’s desire for God's kingdom to
manifest itself here on this earth and for it to do so soon. By looking ahead to
God's future kingdom, Christians must recognize the state of our current world
and the promise of what is to come. They also must realize that, as Christians,
their place in that kingdom is secured forever.
Therefore, our vision in prayer ought to be longing for the
manifestation of God’s glorious kingdom and anticipating its appearing. In so
doing, Christians will be compelled to a higher standard of living, because that
anticipation will have a purifying effect on their lives (1 John 3.1-3).
THE DESIRE OF PRAYER
8. What is meant by the phrase "thy will be done in earth,
as it is in heaven"?
It is interesting and important to note that no personal
request has been prayed for yet in this prayer. It is equally important to
realize that before one can properly understand his or her personal needs in
respect to God, they must first realize and understand God's divine will.
If there is an ultimate goal in prayer, then it must lie in
this particular statement and the Scriptural truth it presents for the ultimate
goal of prayer is TO KNOW THE DIVINE WILL OF GOD!! Prayer, when properly
understood, strives to establish God's will as one’s personal will, here and
The late Adrian Rogers often said,
“Prayer is the Holy Spirit finding a desire in the heart of
the Father and putting that desire in our hearts to return it in the form of a
request to Him.”
He would also say,
“The prayer that gets to heaven is the prayer that starts in
We all state “If God wills” and know that God's will shall be
done. However, we always seem to distance ourselves from that statement. When we
pray for God's will to be done in earth, we are asking for God to take over in
our personal lives and are asking for His will to become our own. This is a
yielding on the Christian’s part as he or she surrenders their personal life
to God and allows themself to be used by God.
Hence, a spiritual Christian learns to allow the Holy Spirit
to pray through them to their Heavenly Father, seeking to realize His will in
life’s situations and circumstances.
THE PETITION OF PRAYER
9. Describe what you think is meant by "Give us this day,
our daily bread"?
God has promised, in His Word, to supply our needs (Matthew
6.33). However, we Christians often fail to recognize the difference between a
need and a want. In prayer, we are often brought to the realization that while
God has promised to provide our needs, He has not necessarily promised to
provide them in advance.
We need to learn to patiently trust God and to faithfully
stand upon His Word instead of our personal abilities. We become uncomfortable
when we have less than two weeks worth of groceries in store or when our bank
accounts become empty; we need to trust God more than our money or possessions.
The Bible tells us to be content with what we have for God is always with us and
will indeed provide for us (Hebrews 13.5). In prayer, spiritual Christian’s
learn to ask for God’s provision to meet the needs for the present day, leaving
the future in the hands of our Heavenly–Father.
THE CLEANSING OF PRAYER
10. What do you think the statement "forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors" means?
Forgiveness is a two way street; we must seek forgiveness from
God for our sins, and we must also be willing to forgive our fellowmen when they
have offended us. Thus, prayer becomes a cleansing act as we evaluate where we
stand in respect to God and our fellowmen and strive to make all things right.
THE SUBMISSION OF PRAYER
11. Describe what is meant by "lead us not into temptation"?
Notice that the key word here is lead.
In order for someone to be led, they must be willing to follow. Hence, the
statement "he leadeth me beside the still waters . . ." (Psalm 23.2)
takes on a new meaning. God can strive to lead us for all eternity, and it won't
do us any good if we are not willing to follow. God will not force you in this
life, yet, Scripture reveals that their are consequences if we fail to follow
and rewards if we continuously follow.
We need to realize that our world is full of temptations just
waiting to draw unguarded Christians away form God and we will fall to many of
these temptations if we fail to follow God's guidance. However, there are times
when God will allow His children to be tried, and that brings us to our next
THE POWER OF PRAYER
12. What is meant by the phrase "deliver us from evil"?
When we do come under the allurements of some
temptation, it is the wise Christian that realizes that the ability to overcome
these temptations is found in God. Yes, there are some things that we may be
able to overcome through our own resolve, but there is nothing that cannot be
overcome through the power of God in His time and by His will. You do not have
to fall to temptation!
Again, the late Adrian Rogers often said,
“There is no sin in your life that proper prayer
could not avoid or no need that proper prayer could not supply.”
Never lose sight of the fact that temptation is not sin until
one falls to its allurements. The fish is not caught until he bites the hook.
The greatest resource for the tempted Christian is the power of God, and that
strength and ability is found only in prayer.
THE WORSHIP OF PRAYER
13. How would you define the phrase "for thine is the
kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen"?
Remember, the ultimate goal of prayer is to come into the
presence of God and discover the will of God. Once you have truly found the will
of God, an overwhelming sense of God's greatness will come with it. It is this
awesome experience and realization that will cause the prayerful saint to humble
themselves in thankfulness and worship.
So, the example that Jesus gave us teaches us to:
1. Realize to whom we approach.
2. Yearn for the Kingdom of God or Jesus’ coming.
3. Seek the will of God.
4. Trust God's providence.
5. Contend for God's cleansing.
6. Submit to God's leadership.
7. Ask for God's deliverance.
8. Worship God's presence.
These are the elements of Scriptural prayer; learn them and
use them daily.
One well known pastor uses the word ACTS to guide his prayers
[his name currently eludes me]. He
suggests that ACTS used in prayer means:
A—Adoration (adore God)
S—Supplication and Intercession.
SCRIPTURAL FACTS ABOUT PRAYER
In our last unit, we studied the divine method of prayer.
In this unit, we want to study the Scriptural facts about prayer. Just
what does the Bible tell us about personal prayer?
1. Look up and read Hebrews 4.14-16. Who can pray to God, and
2. Does the average Christian need a personal human
intercessor, like a priest (1 Timothy 2.5; Matthew 23.9; Ephesians 3.12)?
Why or why not?
3. If every Christian has access to God through Jesus Christ,
then what types of things can they pray for (Philippians 4.6)?
4. Is there anything that can not be prayed for?
It is wonderful to know that every born again Christian has
personal and direct access to God.
There is no need to go to a priest or any other human being for your high
priest; the Lord Jesus Christ dwells in your heart and makes intercession for
you as you pray.
It is equally wonderful to know that there is nothing that is
outside of the scope of your prayers when you come to your Heavenly Father.
God loves you, knows everything there is to know about you and wants to
hear and answer your prayers.
Whatever you find in your heart and life is worthy of your prayers and
enlightened by our God when we bring it to Him in prayer.
The Types Of Prayer
5. List some different types of prayer found in the Bible
(Ephesians 6.18; Philippians 4.6).
The types of prayer discovered in the Bible include:
Adoration (Psalm 34.1) - This is praising
God for who He is.
Supplication/Petition (John 16.24) - This
is praying for your personal needs.
E.M. Bounds has said supplication "is the very soul of
prayer in the way of pleading for some one thing, greatly needed, and the need
Confession (1 John 1.9) - This is agreeing
with God about your sin.
(1 Thessalonians 5.18) - This is thanking God for what He has done.
Intercession (1 Samuel 12.23) - This is
praying for the needs of others.
E.M. Bounds also said intercession "is an enlargement in
prayer, a going out in broadness and fullness from oneself to others."
Understanding the various types of prayer described in
scripture helps a Christian to grasp just how broad and encompassing our
Heavenly Father’s concern for our lives really is.
There is nothing in our lives that God is not interested in.
Hindrances To Prayer
Someone might ask “If God is so interested in my life and
prayers, then why does it seem like there are so many unanswered prayers in my
life?” The Bible not only records
the types of prayer God’s children might pray, but it also reveals those things
that will hinder our prayers.
Listed below are some verses that reveal some Scriptural
hindrances to prayer. In each of
these verses, define what will place an obstacle between your prayers and God:
Psalm 66.18; Proverbs 15.8; Isaiah 1.15
Proverbs 28.9; 1 John 3.22; Zechariah 7.11-13
John 9.31; Proverbs 1.24-28
Hebrews 11.6; James 1.6-7; Mark 11.24
Scripture also reveals some types of praying that are not
effective with God. Read the
reference and then describe the type of prayer:
Since prayer is getting in touch with heaven and then praying
God’s will into your life, then it only makes sense that those things that
reveal that we are not in God’s will (disobedience, rebellion, stubbornness, and
pride) would hinder our prayers.
Clearly, we pray because we want to be heard by God.
When Christians prayers are hindered and go unanswered, we get
discouraged and stop praying. What
should a child of God do if their prayers are being hindered?
Repent and confess the sinful actions and attitudes that are causing
hindrances to our prayers.
Things To Pray For
Look up the following verses and describe those things we are
told to pray for:
Matthew 5.44; Luke 6.28
Matthew 26.41; Mark 14.38; Luke 22.46
Again, we are reminded that there is nothing too small to pray
for. There is also nothing too
sinful to pray about. God already
knows what you need. He knows the
answer to your situation. He knows
the remedy to your sinful choices.
All you need to do is seek His wisdom and direction through prayer.
A Proper Attitude
Having a proper attitude in prayer is as important as praying
itself. What should our attitude be
in prayer? Look up the following verses and list what you find:
Colossians 4.2; Romans 12.12
Matthew 26.41; Luke 21.36; 1 Peter 4.7
Often, when people come to God in prayer, they come with a
mask on. It is our human nature to
think that those things that we don’t bring up will be overlooked.
But God does not look on outward appearances; He looks on the heart.
We must come to God in honesty and
integrity, allowing Him to reveal what is in the deepest parts of our hearts.
We must bring all that we are before Him and allow Him to transform us
into spiritual temples worthy of His presence.
How God Answers Prayer
Just as our earthly fathers, our Heavenly Father will always
hear and answer the prayers of His Children.
It must be emphasized here that not everyone on this Earth is one of
God’s children. Each individual
becomes a part of God’s divine family when they accept the Lord Jesus Christ as
their personal Lord and Savior (John 1.12-13).
As His child, you are loved far too much by Heavenly Father for him not
to answer you when you pray. As we
study the Bible, we discover that God answers our prayers in a number of
different ways. These include:
Yes, here it is.
Yes, just not that way.
This deals with God’s plan for our lives.
Yes, just not right now.
This deals with God’s timing.
Other Things To Know
Consider the following Scriptures and what they teach us about
How often should we pray? (1 Thessalonians 5.17; Luke 18.1)
What is praying in Jesus name and what is its result?
(John 15.7,16; 14.13-14; 16.23-24)
Is praying in Jesus’ name simply saying His name at the end of
your prayers? __________
Praying in Jesus’ name is a matter of praying in keeping with
God’s will for the situation you are praying about and your life.
It is more about knowing the heart of God than it is about compelling God
to give you something you want.
13. Is prayerlessness a sin according to Scripture? (1
Samuel 12.23) ____________
"Prayer is a privilege, a sacred, princely privilege.
Prayer is a duty, an obligation most binding, and most imperative, which should
hold us to it. But prayer is more than a privilege, more than a duty. It is a
means, an instrument, a condition. Not to pray is to lose much more than to fail
in the exercise and enjoyment of a high, or sweet privilege. Not to pray is to
fail along lines far more important than even the violation of an obligation."
THE FASTS OF GOD
If there is a general lack of knowledge within our Christian
ranks concerning prayer, then there is an even greater lack of knowledge
concerning fasting. Some denominations emphasize fasting: some in a Scriptural
sense, and some in an unscriptural sense. Other denominations just avoid the
subject altogether, treating it as though it were something from the past.
However, fasting is a Scriptural reality with clear Biblical
guidelines and purposes. The following two units are intended to guide you into
an in depth study of Scriptural fasting. Let’s investigate what God's Word has
to say about this powerful resource.
But first, record your current understanding about fasting:
1. How would you define or describe fasting?
2. What are some valid reasons to fast, or do you need a
reason at all?
3. What is the expected result of fasting?
Reasons To Fast
Fasting is the act of depriving one’s self of something
(usually food or drink) for a time in order to focus one’s self upon God and His
will for the sake of some important cause or need. While there are some that
arbitrarily fast just for the sake of fasting, with no clear goal in mind, this
is not Scriptural. God's Word is clear about fasting and its results.
4. Read Isaiah 58.3-4 and list some reasons not to
Fasting with the intention of getting God to do what we want
Him to do or to gain a victory in some debate or fight is wrongful fasting.
This type of fasting will not be honored by God.
5. What is the result of wrongful fasting?
THE FASTS OF GOD
6. There are four types of deliverance that can be achieved
through fasting. What are they?
7. There are four types of provision that can be received
through fasting. What are they?
8. There are four results of godly fasting.
What are they? Isaiah 58.8
Your list should reveal that fasting should be used for
spiritual and physical deliverance.
Fasting will lead to the provision of basic needs as well as a personal
knowledge of one’s self. Fasting
will manifest the glory of God in our lives, cause us to live righteous lives,
resulting in greater spiritual and physical health, and will manifest the light
of our Lord Jesus Christ through us.
What an incredible list!
The phrase in verse 7, “. . . and that thou hide not
thyself from thine own flesh,” is particularly revealing.
This indicates that those things that you have denied about yourself, or
refused to acknowledge, will be manifested by God to you.
Through fasting, God will cause you to understand things about yourself
that you may not have known before, or refused to acknowledge.
Why? For the purpose of
transforming you and maturing you as His dear child.
What does this mean?
There are things in your spiritual and physical life that cannot be fully
matured without the spiritual experience that fasting provides.
God uses fasting to bring deep spiritual growth into your life.
Fasting and the New Testament
Is fasting supported in the New Testament?
Let’s find out.
9. What did Jesus say about fasting?
Matthew 17.21; Mark 9.29
10. So is fasting supported in the New Testament?
11. Who can and should fast?
The truth of fasting is that it allows the Christian to put
self aside for a while and to approach Almighty-God with a fixed resolve; it is
a complete demonstration of one’s self-determination. Fasting does not always
deliver what the Christian might expect, but it has been known to touch God's
heart and to draw God's people into a closer relationship with Him. Fasting is a
powerful ally for any Christian.
12. How has this study impacted you?
BIBLICAL EXAMPLES OF FASTING
In our previous unit, we studied the Scriptural case for
fasting. In this unit, we are going to study some Biblical examples of fasting
to see what they demonstrate and teach us. We will look at five examples of
fasting demonstrated in the Bible.
ONE - FOR A CRISIS (Esther 4.1-5.3; Acts 9.1-18)
1. Read Esther 4.7 thru 5.3.
What was Esther's crisis?
2. What was the goal of the fast she requested?
3. How long was this fast? __________________________________
4. What did they fast from?
The story of Esther
covers 10 years in the Persian empire.
The king had placed Haman as his prime minister.
Haman hated the Jews especially Mordecai, Esther’s uncle who raised her.
Through a series of events, Esther had become queen, and Haman, not
knowing Esther’s heritage, determines to kill Mordecai by exterminating all the
Jews in the land.
In your text, Mordecai sends to queen Esther and begs her to
plead with the king on behalf of her people.
In order for Esther to come before the king, he must summon her, and he
has not done that for a long time.
For Esther to come before the king without his summon would mean her death.
Hence, a three-day total fast is called for in hopes that God
would provide a great deliverance both for Esther and all the Jewish people.
As a result, God grants the deliverance requested and turns Haman’s evil
schemes back upon him and his family.
In the end, Mordecai is exalted and placed as the prime minister of
Persia in Haman’s place.
5. Read Acts 9.1-18. What was Paul's crisis?
6. How long did he fast? __________________
7. What type of a conclusion can you draw from these two
Saul, who after his salvation became Paul, was traveling to
Damascus to persecute the Christian Church.
As he journeyed, Paul had a supernatural experience in which Christ
appeared to him and spoke to him. As
a result, Paul was left blind and was led by those present to Damascus.
Paul fasted for three days in a total fast for his eye sight
and direction. As a result, God sent
Ananias to restore Paul’s sight and give him God’s Word.
Paul needed God’s supernatural intervention and God met Paul’s need.
As we consider these different fasts, there are three things
we need to take notice of:
What was the occasion of the fast?
How long did they fast?
What did they abstain from?
(1 Samuel 7.1-12)
8. What was the occasion of this fast?
9. How Long was this fast? _______________
Note: It is uncertain what they fasted from, but a total fast
Here Samuel leads Israel to rededicate themselves to the Lord.
However, their rededication resulted in an unexpected reaction from the
Philistines. Christians need to
understand that whenever God’s people do those things that will bring them back
to a right relationship with their Lord, all of Satan’s wrath will be unleashed.
Even the mighty force of the Philistine Army could not prevail against an
Israel that was in a right relationship with Almighty-God.
Three - For Revelation (Daniel 10.1-5)
10. What was the occasion of this fast?
11. How long was this fast? _______________
12. What did Daniel fast from?
This is a biblical example of a partial-fast.
Daniel selected certain things that he liked and abstained from them for
a long period of time for the sake of drawing closer to God and, in this case,
being granted a revelation from God.
It should be noted that there is no revealed crisis or impending need connected
with Daniel’s fast. It was merely
something that Daniel chose to do for his spiritual growth and enlightenment.
four - FOR Protection
13. What was the occasion of this fast?
14. How long was this fast? _______________
Note: We are not certain about what was abstained from;
however, once again, a total-fast is the assumption. The extent of ones
abstinence would be directly connected to the level of deliverance needed.
Ezra had been ordered by the king to take as many Levites and
Jews as would volunteer to go and return to Israel to rebuild the Temple.
The king vowed to provide all of the expenses for the project and to
return the valuables of the Temple as well.
This journey would prove to be a very difficult journey through
treacherous country sides. Thieves
and robbers roved along these countrysides in bands seeking all that they could
Our text indicates that Ezra was ashamed to ask the king for
the protection of soldiers for their journey because he did not want to exhibit
a lack of faith. So Ezra called for
a fast and God answered. According
to verses 31 and 32, Ezra and his party arrived safely in Jerusalem.
five - FOR
DOMINION AND POWER
15. What was the occasion of this fast?
16. How long was this fast? _______________
17. What was abstained from?
This was a supernatural forty day total fast that can only be
accomplished through the power of Almighty-God.
Jesus fasted and then was tempted by the devil when he was weak, but he
prevailed against the devil by using God’s Word.
Jesus was not the only one to fast for forty days in the Bible.
Moses also experienced such a supernatural fast when God gave him the law
(Genesis 34.28; Deuteronomy 9.9-11).
Privacy in Fasting
There is one more point about fasting that every Christian
needs to realize.
18. Read Matthew 6.16-18.
What does this passage reveal about fasting?
There are times when fasting is not only an option but becomes
the only real remedy to the situation at hand. Therefore, every Christian must
learn about and understand powerful Scriptural fasting.
Basic Purposes For Fasting
To gain spiritual alertness and overcome temptation
To seek God’s will in a specific matter (Judges 20.26;
Fasting in repentance for sin (1 Samuel 7.6; 2 Samuel
12.16; 21-23; 1 Kings 21.27; Nehemiah 9.1-3; Daniel 9.3; Joel 1.14; 2.12;15;
Fasting in concern for the work of God (Nehemiah 1.4; 1
Fasting as a prerequisite for spiritual authority (Matthew
17.21; Mark 9.29)
Fasting for deliverance or protection (2 Chronicles 20.3;
Ezra 8.21-23; Esther 4.13,16; 9.31; Jeremiah 14.12)
Fasting to humble one’s self before God (Psalm 69.10-13)
Fasting as a
part of worship (Luke 2.37; Acts 13.2-3; 10.2,30)
Fasting when in deep sorrow (1 Samuel 31.13; 2 Samuel
1.11-12; 12.16; 21-23; Psalm 35.13; Daniel 6.18)
Fasting is found permeating the pages of God’s Word.
People are found fasting for one, three, seven, twenty-one and even forty
day periods. Some fasts are
total-fasts while others are partial-fasts.
In almost every case where fasting is motivated by a pure heart that is
interested in glorifying God, the fast is answered.
Christians need to learn to incorporate private and corporate
fasting as a part of their spiritual disciplines.
Through fasting, God’s children will develop a closer walk with their
Lord and a powerful and pure influence in our world.
Spiritual Christians are those who have learned the importance of fasting
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