As we are providing the opportunity for TRC to participate with other local churches in seeking the Lord together for 21 days 21 Days of Connection I am, by God’s grace, going to post some “prayer and fasting” related thoughts to help us sharpen our focus on the disciplines of prayer and fasting.
Isaiah 58 is a key passage. When the Lord Jesus gave instruction in Matthew 6 about prayer and fasting, he was not disconnected from the Old Testament. The Old Testament is the bible of the first century church, and the Lord Jesus was preaching from the text when he preached. Isaiah 58 is a classic text on the “why” and “what to expect” from fasting.
At this point we won’t explore why the Scriptures teach fasting because they don’t explicitly tell us why. The Scriptures just teach that Jesus’ followers fast and the Scriptures teach us what this discipline produces.
Prayer seems to always be paired with fasting, and this is because fasting is a way we seek God and his way just like prayer is. So, it makes sense that we would pray and fast together.
Here are some observations from Isaiah 58 and Acts 13 on prayer and fasting and the results.
- Prayer and fasting are ways we are to seek after God and his way.
If we need to know more of God and what he would have us do, then seeking him according to how he says we can find that out makes sense. We are to seek after God in prayer and fasting.
- Prayer and fasting is a way to draw near to God.
No doubt, living life with vestiges of the curse all around us and even in our own flesh leaves us feeling distant. God’s not distant, he dwells in us by Holy Spirit, but we need to battle back the curse through prayer and fasting. This is a way we can overcome feelings of distance.
- Prayer and fasting help us to humble ourselves.
1 Peter 5:5 reminds us that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Grace in the bible is always God’s power toward not leniency. I need God’s power at work in my life. Prayer and fasting helps me to humble my prideful heart and be ready to receive God’s power.
- Prayer and fasting breaks bondage, and causes us to get after doing kingdom oriented works.
What’s interesting about Isaiah 58 is that Jesus references Isaiah 58:6-7 when he teaches about what separates the sheep and the goats at the final judgment. The sheep did the works produced by seeking God in prayer and fasting and the goats did not. The sheep entered the joy of the master. The goats entered hell. It seems Jesus intent of Matthew 25:31-46 is to show us that those who follow Jesus and seek his way do the kinds of things Isaiah 58 talks about that breaks cursed bonds and does kingdom oriented work. I might better get after prayer and fasting.
- The Lord will guide those who seek him in prayer and fasting.
I need that badly. I’m dense. I am a sheep that will wander off. I need the Good Shepherd to keep me in the fence. I need him to guide me. Maybe I should seek him and his guidance.
- The Holy Spirit will speak clear instruction.
Acts 13 tells us that the church at Antioch was worshiping and fasting and the Holy Spirit spoke explicit instruction on their mission team’s make up and where they were to go. I want the Spirit to guide me like that. Jesus said he would (John 14-16), so maybe I should do the things necessary to put me in a place to hear.
These are just a few exegeted benefits of prayer and fasting. This is by no means a full expounding of Isaiah 58, but its a good start.
Will you join us? Mitch’s Post About the Fast Here is my post about the fast and how you can participate. Let’s seek the Lord with our family of faith in Rome/Floyd County. Let’s come to worship expecting the Lord to do some of the things listed above.
Enjoy journeying together TRC!