Prayer & Fasting; Powerful & Personal

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Matt. 9:15 And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

Dr. Ravenhill: “Preaching affects men; prayer affects God. The pastor who is not a praying pastor is a playing pastor. The congregation which is not a praying congregation is a straying congregation. To be much for God we must be much with God.”

Sidlow Baxter: “Men may spurn our appeals, reject our mes­sage, oppose our arguments, despise our persons; but they are helpless against our prayers.”    

Eugene Stock: “He who faithfully prays at home does as much for foreign missions as the man on the field, for the nearest way to the heart of a Hindu or Chinaman is by the way of the throne of God.”

 Andrew Murray: “In relation to his people, God works only in answer to their prayer. In prayer we change our natural strength for the supernatural strength of God.”       

 J. A. Wallace: “Prayer moves the hand which moves the world.”

 Dwight Moody: “Christ’s soldiers fight best on their knees.”    

 Binney: “Every praying Christian will find that there is no Gethsemane without its Angel.”  

Here are some practical thoughts regarding your personal practice of prayer and fasting, from Donald Whitney’s book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, NavPress, p 153:

The Bible distinguishes between several kinds of fasts.  Although it doesn’t use the labels we frequently employ today to describe these fasts, each of the following may be found:

 1. A Normal Fast involves abstaining from all food, but not  from water.  We’re told in Matthew 4:2, “After fasting forty days and forty nights, he (Jesus) was hungry.”  It says nothing about Him becoming thirsty.  Furthermore, Luke 4:2 says that He “ate nothing during those days,” but it does not say He drank nothing.  Since the body can normally function no longer than three days without water, we assume that He drank water during this time.  To abstain from food but to drink water or perhaps fruit juices is the most common kind of Christian fast.

 2. A Partial Fast is a limitation of the diet but not abstention from all food.  For ten days Daniel and three other Jewish young men only had “vegetables to eat and water to drink” (Daniel 1:12).  It is said of the rugged prophet John the Baptist that “his food was lucusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3:4).  Historically, Christians have observed partial fasts by eating much smaller portions of food than usual for a certain time and/or eating only a few simple foods.

 3. An Absolute Fast is the avoidance of all food and liquid, even water.  We’re told that Ezra “ate no food and drank no water, because he continued to mourn over the unfaithfulness of the exiles” (Ezra 10:6).  When Esther requested that the Jews fast and pray on her behalf, she said, “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me.  Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day” (Esther 4:16).  After the Apostle Paul was converted on the road to Damascus, Acts 9:9 tells us, “For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.”

What type of fast should each of us participate in?  This is a personal matter for each of us to consider.  Here are the kinds of questions we might ask ourselves:

 A. Am I a pregnant or nursing mother?

 B. Do I have a low blood sugar problem?

 C. Will I be responsible on the fast day to work and function with a substantial level of physical strength?

 D. Has my doctor counseled me to be careful about restricting my nutritional intake?

 

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About savedbygrace1976

Mark Chanski (author of Manly Dominion and Womanly Dominion) has labored as a full-time Pastor since 1986 in churches in Ohio and Michigan. He has been Pastor of Harbor Church in Holland, Michigan, since 1994. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Cornerstone University, and a Master of Divinity degree from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He teaches Hermeneutics for the Reformed Baptist Seminary in Taylors, SC. Mark is married to his wife Dianne, and has fathered their four sons and one daughter, whose ages stretch from 30 to 20 (born 1983 to 1994).
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