Prayer and Fasting

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Prayer and Fasting ~ Episode 242

Do you like the idea of prayer and fasting? Is it helpful in your Christian walk? In this podcast, Felice Gerwitz shares how scriptures encourage us and ways to grow in our faith through this simple and ancient practice. Perfect as we enter our Lenten Season before Easter.

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I grew up in a household that fasted on specific days a week. For example, on Friday, we didn’t eat meat. This included chicken or pork. This was a remembrance of Good Friday, even though it was not Lent, the 40 days before Easter. Every Friday, we remember that Christ died for our sins and that through his redemptive sacrifice, we have everlasting life if we accept this as truth. This reminder as a child put faith in a real perspective. Especially as a child who did not like fish. Most of the time, I ate some type of egg or pasta.

What is sacrifice? Think about this.

I looked up the word sacrifice in an online dictionary and was astounded to read the first definition was “an act of offering to a deity something precious.” The other definitions had to do with destruction, surrender, or loss. Would you agree that sacrifice means giving up for the sake of something better? When we sacrifice or deny ourselves, we are reminded in a tangible way that there is more than this life. This life is temporary. 

Matthew 16:24-26 seems like a harsh teaching.  But picking up our cross may mean self-denial. What does this look like? We give up a specific food or a sinful activity in prayer and fasting. Giving up food may be difficult; for example, giving up chocolate is sacrificial. We may crave chocolate, and telling ourselves no when we want a piece is not fun, but this reminds us to thank God and praise Him for what He has done for us. Being in a relationship and remaining pure is difficult and means picking up your cross. A cross is different for each person.

This brings us to prayer and fasting. The significance of fasting has Biblical significance from ancient times. Putting on sackcloth and fasting saved everyone, Ester 4:3 (Read On Air.) Even Jesus fasted in the desert before his public ministry,  Matthew 4:2 “(Read on air.) That is where the 40 days of Lent before Easter comes from, it is a reminder of the time that Jesus spent in prayer in the desert. Symbolically fasting from something you do daily, whether it is a food or a sinful activity, or even a bad habit (too much social media) is helpful in picking up your cross and following alongside Christ.

Matthew 9: 24-29 (On Air)  Some translations leave out the fasting part and include only prayer, but the combination of prayer and fasting is so powerful! It will change your life. So, consider this when you are praying for something of importance or for an unanswered prayer. Give yourself a time period, maybe a week or two, a month or more, whatever that time is. Fasting does not need to be bread and water, although at a certain period of my life, I did this two times a week, once on Wednesday and then on Friday. It was a time of prayer that my husband and I both did for a time. It was truly a blessed time, and we were blessed through the experience. It is not for everyone and should be done only for a specific need. Bring it to prayer before you begin.

Remember, sacrifice is giving up something you don’t want to give up. My husband fasts by giving up soda, which he drinks daily. For me, chocolate is my go-to fast. For you, it may be different. Just remember that prayer and fasting are for a purpose, and fasting to lose weight is different. This type of fasting is for the end goal of your health, perhaps dropping a few pounds, but it is not for the sake of prayer or sacrifice.

God doesn’t need us to fast for Him. He doesn’t only answer prayer that we join to fasting. God is not at our whim waiting for us to command Him to answer our wants, needs, or desires. When people say, “God doesn’t answer my prayers,” that typically translates to, “God isn’t doing what I want Him to do.” It is disappointing not to have your prayers answered and devastating, to say the least. St. Monica prayed for Augustine for over twenty years at least, I’ve heard thirty years, but Augustine was 33 when his mother died. St. Augustine, as he is known now, wrote in his book, “Confessions,” that his mother’s prayers changed him, not his prayers because he was not praying. Augustine did convert to Christianity, became a bishop, a Father of the Church, and later a saint. I can imagine that his mother prayed and fasted for her son. This is a beautiful and true story, and it should give you hope. Monica did not turn her back on God because her prayers were not answered on her timeline.

Will you add prayer and fasting to your walk with the Lord? I challenge you this week to consider it and note in your journal changes, if any, in your spiritual walk! May God be blessed today and always.

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