Prayer and Fasting for the Nations
Why Does GCC Emphasize Prayer & Fasting for the Unreached Peoples?
What is Fasting?
Matthew 9:15--"How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast."
Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes, "Fasting should really be made to include abstinence from anything which is legitimate in and of itself for the sake of some special spiritual purpose. There are many bodily functions which are right and normal and perfectly legitimate, but which for special peculiar reasons in certain circumstances should be controlled. That is fasting."
Fasting enables believers an opportunity to make known the truest and dearest desires of their heart. The Christian heart longs for the day when they will be joined up with Christ in the heavenly places. This will not happen for the church until the Gospel message has been preached to all the peoples. Our being united with Christ is what compels us to congregationally unite in prayer and fasting. God decrees that "all the nations" will come (cf., Psalm 86:9).
Therefore, our aim is to relentlessly strive for the fullness of God's glory to be known amongst the peoples. Through earnest strivings toward this end, we are called to engage in prayer and fasting, which is a means to this end. God has decreed that all the peoples will bring Him glory. We glorify Him most by asking Him to accomplish that which He alone can accomplish: the salvation of the nations.
What the Bible Says about Fasting
Matthew 6:16-18 "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
The Bible does, however, speak of corporate fasting.
Acts 13:1-3--"In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off."
The beginning of the world's mission movement was instituted through prayer and fasting.
God, the Essence of Our Fasting
"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."
"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you."
"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David."
"...but my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols. Be appalled at this, O heavens, and shudder with great horror," declares the LORD. "Mt people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water."
"Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'"
"He said to me: 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.'"
"The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life."
Andrew Fuller on Fasting
Fasting is to be the ordinary practice of the godly...It is an appendage to prayer, and designed to aid its importunity. It is humbling, and in a manner, chastising ourselves before God. The spirit of it is expressed in the following passages-"So do God to me and more also, if I taste bread, or aught else, till the sun be down." "Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob." No mention of the time, or how often the duty should be attended to...It is only a means, however; if rested in as an end, it will be an abomination in the sight of God.
Benefits of Fasting by Wayne Grudem
- Fasting increases our sense of humility and dependence on the Lord (for our hunger and physical weakness continually remind us how we are not really strong in ourselves but need the Lord).
- Fasting allows us to give more attention to prayer (for we are not spending time on eating).
- Fasting is a continual reminder that, just as we sacrifice some personal comfort to the Lord by not eating, so we must continually sacrifice all of ourselves to Him.
- Fasting is a good exercise in self-discipline, for as we refrain from eating food, which we would ordinarily desire, it also strengthens our ability to refrain from sin, to which we might otherwise be tempted to yield.
- Fasting expresses earnestness and urgency in our prayers: if we continued to fast, eventually we would die. Therefore, in a symbolic way, fasting says to God that we are prepared to lay down our lives that the situation be changed rather than that it continue. In this sense fasting is especially appropriate when the spiritual state of the church is low.
Most western Christians do not fast, but if we were willing to fast more regularly-even for one or two meals-we might be surprised how much more spiritual power and strength we would have in our lives and in our churches.
Andrew Murray on Fasting
Prayer needs fasting for its full growth. Prayer is the one hand with which we grasp the invisible. Fasting is the other hand, the one with which we let go of the visible. In nothing is man more closely connected with the world of sense than in this need for, and enjoyment of, food. It was fruit with which man was tempted and fell in Paradise. It was with bread that Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. But He triumphed in fasting...The body has been redeemed to be a temple of the Holy Spirit. In body as well as spirit, Scripture says, we are to glorify God in eating and drinking. There are many Christians to whom this eating for the glory of God has not yet become a spiritual reality. The first thought suggested by Jesus' words in regard to fasting and prayer is that only in a life of moderation and self-denial will there be sufficient heart and strength to pray much...Fasting helps to express, to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain the Kingdom of God. And Jesus, Who Himself fasted and sacrificed, knows to value, accept, and reward with spiritual power the soul that is thus ready to give up everything for Him and His Kingdom.