Fasting, Role of
Announce a time of fasting; call the people together for a solemn meeting (Joel 1:14, NLT).
Down through the centuries, godly people have been mightily used by God through the discipline of prayer with fasting.
John Wesley shook the world for God during the Great Awakening, which gave rise to the Methodist Church toward the end of the eighteenth century. He is representative of such great spiritual leaders.
John and his brother Charles Wesley, with their friend George Whitefield and other fellow believers, regularly fasted and prayed while students at Oxford University in 1732, and they later required that all of their pastors fast every Wednesday and Friday.
The roll call of other great Christian leaders who determined to make prayer with fasting a part of their lives reads like a hall of fame: Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Henry, Charles Finney, Andrew Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and many more.
Why were they so convinced of the need for fasting and prayer? And how does fasting cause the fire of God to fall upon the life of the individual and the Church?
The writings of Scripture, the Church Fathers and many Christian leaders of today offer several biblical insights into the spiritual need for fasting. For examples, it is a biblical way to truly humble oneself in the sight of God; it brings revelation by the Holy Spirit of a person's true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance and change; it transforms prayer into a richer and more personal experience; it can result in dynamic personal revival, regaining a strong sense of spiritual determination; and it can restore the loss of one's first love for our Lord.
Throughout the Old and New Testament eras and during the last 2,000 years, fasting has been a primary means of humbling ourselves before God.
Of course, fasting must be undertaken with the right attitude. Humility is an attitude of the heart. The Scripture says, "A broken and a contrite heart -- these, O God, You wilt not despise" (Psalm 51:17, NKJV).
God will hear us and respond to our cry when we come before Him in humility and brokenness -- acknowledging and repenting of our sins, and asking Him to cleanse us by the blood of Jesus and to fill us with His Holy Spirit.
(Crosswalk Insights from Bill Bright – August 11, 2008)