Why should we fast and pray—individually and corporately? The quick answer: Fasting helps us get into God’s will. Prayer helps us to hear what God wants. This benefits us individually and corporately to discern how God wants us to move in the various populations and territories we occupy.
When it comes to fasting and prayer, the misstep some people make is trying to draw God’s focus to their desires without seeking to hear and learn where God is focused. It’s human nature for us to desire comfortable lives and to want that comfort right now. Some people view fasting and prayer as tools to “help God out.” They use it as an opportunity to dictate to God what He should do. In fact, as the late evangelist David Wilkerson said, “We know too much about what we want and too little about what God wants.” In prayer we need to ask God, “What is it that you want from me?”
In truth, even in our diligence in prayer, we’ve all experienced what seems like delayed answers. When we read Daniel 10, we see that Daniel has been fasting and praying for 21 days with no response to his prayer. The angel Michael comes to Daniel and explains that his prayer was heard initially. The delayed response was due to spiritual opposition with the prince of the Persian kingdom that resisted him for 21 days. In essence, Michael was battling demons on Daniel’s behalf.
The same occurs for us, particularly when we’re fasting and praying. We are likely to encounter spiritual warfare. It’s important that daily we put on our spiritual armor, as instructed in Ephesians 6:10-17. “For our war is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (v. 12) Our engagement in such warfare makes the enemy take notice. Sometimes our situations require an extended period of fasting and prayer to break the enemy’s strategies to keep us oppressed. It also engages angels to war on our behalf.
For individual and corporate prayer and fasting, the greatest gain is that we come to learn the heart of God. If we truly desire to know God’s will for us, we will seek to know what God wants from us. He will certainly answer. As we seek to accomplish 2016 goals, let one of those be that we examine our prayers and become concerned about the things of God, and less focused on what we need. Ultimately, our goal is to decrease self so Christ can increase. When flesh is subdued, He will do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20).”
Do you seek to know God’s will for you? Are you prepared to go the distance in God by first seeking to know what He desires, above your desires? Fast and pray.
Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.
Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.