Pray and Fast
Written by Ps Zheng Hao Ren
“5 And when you pray… 16 And when you fast…” Matthew 6:5,16
In Matthew 6:5-18, it is very clear that Jesus expects us to pray and fast. For He did not say “if you desire to pray or fast” or “if you so choose to pray or fast.” No, to Jesus it was a given that we are to pray and fast.
Why pray? It is to make our praise or request known to God. We communicate and relate with God through prayer. Over time and deep earnest, our hearts become aligned with Christ’s. We come to love the things Jesus loves and hate the things Jesus hates.
As we persist in prayer, the Lord’s will become ours. We witness His will done in and through us by the Spirit. We experience awe and see the wondrous works of our great God! Our hearts become filled with worshipful praise of and confidence in our Heavenly Father!
Why fast? Some reasons include wanting to be near God, to be attentive to Him, to wait upon the Lord for a word in direction, or to seek guidance. Fasting frees us from the distractions of our desires and helps us to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit. It diverts our attention from physical needs to the worship of God.
Fasting is a way to humble ourselves in the sight of God (Psalm 35:13; Ezra 8:21). It enhances the spiritual devotion of our hearts unto the Lord. King David said, “I humbled my soul with fasting” (Psalm 69:10). We find that we rely on God more fully for strength when we fast.
Why pray & fast? Fasting is the key to effective prayer. Prayer and fasting strengthens our faith. In Matthew 17:14-21 (KJV), when Jesus heard of the nine disciples’ failure to cast the evil spirit out of the boy, He reacted with disappointment and frustration. When the disciples later asked the Lord why they were unable to heal the boy, Jesus replied in verses 20-21, “Because of your unbelief… Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”