Living By Faith Blog


Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

Why Fast and Pray?

Why fast and pray?

Recently I haven’t been fasting.

But Sunday I preached about fasting from Mat 6:16-18.

I saw that Jesus ASSUMES his followers will fast.

He says “when you fast” — not “if you fast.”

That convicted me.

A long list

And then I studied how many people in the Bible fasted — a long list —

  • Moses (Exo 34:28)
  • David (2Sam 12:16; Psa 35:13; 69:10; 109:24)
  • Jehoshaphat with all of Israel (2Ch 20:3)
  • Ezra with those traveling with him to Israel (Ezra 8:21)
  • Nehemiah (Neh 1:4)
  • Nehemiah with all of Israel (Neh 9:1)
  • Esther’s friends (Esther 4:16)
  • Daniel (Dan 9:3)
  • Josiah with all of Israel (Jer 36:9)
  • The people of Nineveh (Jonah 3:5)
  • The prophetess Anna (Luke 2:37)
  • Jesus (Mat 4:1-2)
  • Paul with the leaders in Antioch (Acts 13:3)
  • Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:23)

So why does Jesus assume we will fast — and why did all these people fast?

Why is fasting important?

Let’s start with why prayer is important.

God has ordained to have our prayers stir His heart to do the things He’s chosen to do.

He doesn’t need our prayer.

He can free us from sin and save people and pour out His Spirit without our prayer.

But God has chosen to accomplish His work through our prayer.

I see that in passages like Eze 36:37; Mat 7:8; Mat 9:38; James 4:2.

So when you pray for power over sin — God will give you more power over sin than had you not prayed.

When you pray for people to be saved — more people will be saved than had you not prayed.

When you pray for an outpouring of God’s Spirit upon your church — your church will experience a greater outpouring than had you not prayed.

That’s why prayer is important.

What does fasting add?

As much as prayer stirs God’s heart to act — fasting stirs God’s heart even more.

I see that in Isa 58:4.  Israel fasted in sinful ways, and Isaiah says —

Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.

They fasted in sinful ways — so their fasting would NOT make their voice be heard on high.

Which means fasting in righteous ways WILL make our voice be heard on high.

Not earned or deserved

In our sinfulness all we earn or deserve from God is judgment.  Period.

But in His mercy — through the Cross — He has saved and forgiven and redeemed us.

And — in His mercy — He has chosen to respond to fasting and prayer.

So when we pray — God mercifully hears our voices and His heart is stirred.

And when we pray with fasting — God’s heart is stirred even more.

Picture it like this

It’s like prayer has – by God’s mercy — 100 megawatts of power to stir God’s heart.

So when I pray for God to save people in neighborhood — there’s 100 megawatts of power stirring God to act.

But fasting – by God’s mercy — adds maybe 20 megawatts of power.

So when we pray – with fasting – there’s a total of 120 megawatts of power stirring God’s heart to act.

Individual prayer is crucial — that’s 100 megawatts of power stirring God’s heart!

But fasting makes a difference — adding maybe 20 megawatts of power.

Even more

There’s mystery here.  But generally speaking this is how we should think of prayer and fasting —

When you pray for power over sin — God will give you more power over sin than had you not prayed.

And – when you add in fasting – you will have even more power over sin.

When you pray for salvations in your neighborhood – God will save more people than had you not prayed.

And – when you add in fasting – even more will be saved.

When you pray for the Spirit to be poured out on your church — God will give a greater outpouring than had you not prayed.

And – when you add in fasting – God will pour out even more of His Spirit.

What this means

So — be devoted to prayer.

And — as you can, without neglecting your other God-given responsibilities — add fasting to prayer.

You will — by God’s mercy — see God work in powerful ways.

What’s been your experience with fasting and prayer?

I’d love to hear — leave a comment below.   Thanks!

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(Picture from everystockphoto by Kobos.)

Category: Miscellaneous


27 Responses

  1. Jason Belk says:

    Jesus, I believe, help my unbelief. Give me the heart of prayer and fasting I need to be effective for You. Amen

  2. Ron R says:

    Steve. Thank you for sharing this. I so love and believe in prayer. But to be reminded about the power of “Fasting” and “Prayer” was so encouraging to me. Sometimes we forget about all the tools at our disposal as we seek to introduce the lost in our midst to the Lord. Thanks again!!

  3. David Hyden says:

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for this teaching prayer and fasting…I haven’t done it in quite some time, and I believe that God may be leading me to a time of prayer and fasting as I look for some direction in my life as well as victory over sin issues.

    I have a few questions for you:
    1. in the past when I’ve fasted I’ve fasted from food, and stuck to a liquid only such as water with fresh-squeezed lemons along with high-grade maple syrup, or juices, shakes, etc. Do you have any advice for what to ingest during a fast?
    2. What do you think about fasting from media (tv, facebook, internet, etc.)?

    Thanks, brother. You are a blessing in my life. I am edified by your teaching.


    • Steve Fuller says:

      Great questions, David.

      Regarding what to ingest during a fast — the best resource I’ve seen is the Campus Crusade link I mentioned at the end of the post (above). See if that helps.

      And while there may be benefit in abstaining from TV or media — I’m pretty sure the Bible only uses the word fasting to describe abstaining from food or drink for the purpose of prayer. So that’s how I’m using the word.

      Always a joy to hear from you, brother. Much love to you and your family.


      • Derrika says:

        Fasting is time set aside for God ,even though the Bible does not say specifically to abstain from media…the time that you would spend on media can be time donated to God…like reading your Bible or praying. Make the sacrifice for your Lord and Savior.

  4. Theresa Cheng says:

    Yes. Fasting is more effective and a quicker way to get my prayers answered.

  5. JC says:

    I have a daughter who ran off and got married. To make a long story short, they committed 13 abominations unto God. They have lied beyond belief. This marriage has caused families to divide, churches to split and others to leave the faith all together. Not one thing about this marriage is of God. I have prayed and fasted, but have not seen any movement in the ending of this marriage. This was not a marriage formed or brought together by God. It has been a year and to this day, my daughter has not even wished her mother a happy mother’s day!! God is not present in the marriage. I along with others have fasted and prayed, but we have seen no answers….why????

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Dear JC,

      My heart breaks for you. This must be terribly painful.

      All I can say is that God will be faithful to His promises. He promises that every trial will bring us more nearness to Him now and forever — as we use it to set our eyes more firmly on Him (2Cor 4:16-18).

      He will strengthen you, encourage you, comfort and satisfy you in Himself through Christ. And He will give you wisdom and guide you regarding what You should do.

      So please, please keep fighting to trust Him. He never promises to answer every prayer exactly the way we pray it. But you can trust that He is in control, and that He is good, and that all of this will ultimately bring you great and everlasting joy in Him.

      For what it’s worth, I’m going to pray for you right now.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

      • Cheri says:

        I may be wrong in this, but I don’t believe fasting is to make God do something you want Him to do, right?

        Fasting is about the person humbling themself, repenting of sins and recognizing God as the ‘source’ or Bread of Life. I believe fasting releases the Hand of God because we confess our sins and repent. Our own sin is no longer a hindrance because we have personally acknowledged it and repented.

        God doesn’t force people to do things but He allows them the choice of what they do. I’m not sure fasting for someone to end a marriage would change God’s gift of choice for them(whether they choose holiness or sin). But I can see fasting for God to be able and reveal Himself to them, draw them to His truth and actually use the marriage to bring revelation of a compassionate and faithful Father. It’s His kindness that leads to repentance.

        Sorry if I’m off on this,

        • JC says:

          If you read Isaiah 58, it explains about fasting to break bondage and let the oppressed go free. I beleive this marriage is oppressed and there way too many references to that to post here.

          As far as marriage is concerned, let me ask you a question: Does God want a gay marriage to succeed…if not tell me why? It is an abomination unto God…right? God’s word tells us that it is sin. This marriage has committed 13 abominations unto God. Is one okay and the other not. God hates sin and wants us to repent. To repent is to turn away from.

          I pray that God’s love fills my daughter and even her husband. I want no harm to either of them. But, you cannot mock God’s word and then claim protection by it.

          Prayer and fasting together are very powerful.


      • JC says:

        Thank you Steve! I am trusting in God. To use an old phrase….Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. I know that right now, I only see the trees, BUT I KNOW GOD SEE THE WHOLE FOREST and beyond. I love him and I will trust him. I don’t understand the pain, but I know God is sending me (and my family) through this storm for a reason.

        Please continue to keep my daughter in your prayers…I pray that God’s holy spirit will convict her of this and that God’s will can be done.

        I would appreciate you keeping me and the rest of my family in your prayers as well.

        I will let you know as God moves !!

        Your brother in Christ,

        • Steve Fuller says:

          I will pray again right now, JC. The Bible surely teaches that God changes people’s wills (Prov 21:1), and that God will either give us exactly what we ask for or something even better.

          So keep praying. Keep fasting. And keep your heart centered on Christ as your all-satisfying Treasure.

          He is worth it all,


    • Anonymous says:

      Instead of praying and fasting for what you want God to do, why not start asking for Him to bring salvation to your daughter and her husband? Not all marriages are brought about in the right way, but God can turn anything around and use it for His Glory. My husband and I were married after he left his first wife, partly because we had an affair and because we were living a life of drugs and partying. We were not saved at the time, but God has done marvelous things in both of us and 19 years later we are part of the ministry in our local church. Nothing is impossible for God! Please, give up your agenda and begin seeking God’s for this situation.

      • Anonymous says:

        Anonymous. Go back and read this again, you will find that I am asking for a conviction to come upon BOTH of them. Your situation is completely different than my daughter’s. You were both in sin and not under God’s law. Like I said before, you cannot break God’s law and then ask for protection from it. You cannot mock God and get away with it. In your case, you didn’t. You were both living in sin. Now that you are both saved, what do you think if the same situation would happen again? Do you feel like you could have another affair, divorce and remarry someone and still claim the same protection…..NO! If you break the law, you have to pay the penality. This marriage went against 13 of God’s abominations. They, like you, are using the same type of reasoning….we have asked for forgiveness and now God can use us. Unfortunately, if you repent, then you will turn away from your sin. In this case, the marriage is the SIN. If a gay perosn came to your church, came forward and confessed to be a Christian, but still went home to their gay lifestyle, then have they really repented? What would that person have to do to show they have repented….they would have to leave the gay marriage. My daughter’s marrage is not different. They claim to have repented, but there is no fruit. The sad thing is that we twist the word to make it the way WE want it. The word is the word. It cannot be changed!!!!!

        • steve says:

          Dear JC,
          Im so sorry to read about your difficulty’s in handling your Daughters marriage. It makes me even sadder that one marriage has caused so much Judgment by other people to Break up churches, family’s to depart and the saddest of all, caused people to loose the faith all together all together.
          It is extremely terrifying to me that two people who exersize there given gift to from God for free choice. Even Adam and Eve were given there choice to sin. ITS IN gods hand, not anyone else s. It seems that the deceiver has ultimately received his reward by the effects that this has caused everyone else to freely do.
          Im curious, if the marriage ends, will that restore the faith in all? Will it reunite the family’s and churches? Please do not take this the wrong way as I am NOT a Profit. I can not know Gods secrets. I aim to follow the same book as everyone else assembled by the “catholic church” for only their priests(the Bible). I only began reading it myself after leaving the Church to become a better Christian.
          But tell me, is there less sins then “13” committed by all who judge these two? Would all of those who Judged be happy with others Judging a Decision that they had made by there free will? Who is hurting all the family’s, churches, and faith, Those who Married, or those who Judge and Disagree with the Marriage? Is there a Block in there eye? in your eye? in the eyes of all who Judged? or in my eye?
          Again please do not take this as me disapproving of your disagreement for your daughters decision as I am a Father myself and want only the best for my little Girl. But I am not a Judge, only Jesus is. I can only pray and ask for to better understand of others choices which are different then my own. Prayer and Fasting…. Its all. Prayer for the churches to be restored, the Family’s and the lost Faith. Let God do his incredible works and Jesus Judge who will and will not receive there Reword.
          I pray that your heart grows for God and Good.


          P.S. Steve, I love your site, Very helpful. I would disagree with the number figures, adding that Fasting alone brings nothing, but fasting ads 100 to prayer as apposed to Prayer alone. It is a personal sacrifice as well as allows your body to remove all or at least some of the “uncleanliness” the body contains(with a “normal” digestive system anyway).

          P.S.S. -Everything I wrote above is my personal belief on what I understand from reading the “scriptures” and prayer for wisdom of how to live.

          • JC says:


            I check this site from time to time to see if someone can give me a better understanding of what is going on with this situation. You have brought up the topic of “judging”. Matthew 7 clearly tells to judge AFTER we have made sure we can withstand being judged. Also, 1 Corinthians 2 tells us that a Spiritual person judges ALL things. We should do this and make sure we explain to those that we care about when they are one the wrong path. The devil seeks to destroy and kill. Isaiah 58:1 says to spare not, cry aloud like a trumpet and let the house of Isreal know about their sins. It is important that we do this with love though. I love my daugher will all my heart, but sin is still ruling her life….deception is telling her that she is fine…I have learned to turn it over to God and let him take care of it. But, to be honest, I haven’t completely let go and given it to God. I still find myself questioning and seeking to do what man would do. All the other who have been involved, I have been able to forgive. God has taken care of them…..after I learned to let go. I just need prayers that I can learn better to trust God in this situation….I know HE is in control and whatever happens will end up glorifying God. Thank you for your response.

  6. ed says:

    I by no means consider myself an expert on fasting and prayer,not even close.over the past 6 months I have been called to some extensive fasting,often.mostly for prayer.3 weeks ago I completed a 40 day water only thing I have asked the lord repeatedly is “why so much fasting? (this is why I found your site)after all my research on this question (and much of what I have found including on this site is certainly relevant)I am still not satisfied that I have found the full answer.I am,however beginning to suspect that it has much to do with the spiritual warfare aspect of prayer and fasting(especially when the fasting is the specific will of god for an individual)I do not have words in my vocabulary to describe the intensity of the spiritual warfare encountered during the 40 day fast.It was by far the most difficult part of the experience.perhaps the most difficult thing I have ever encountered in my 53 years.I would appreciate your thoughts on this,your brother in christ,ed R.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Ed,

      Thank you for sharing your experience, and your thoughts, about fasting.

      I agree that prayer-with-fasting is a significant weapon in spiritual warfare, since everything we pray in God’s will is the opposite of Satan’s will.

      And as you learn more, share your insights with us.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

    • steve says:

      Dear Brother Ed,

      Your faith and dedication is incredible to fast and pray for that length. I do hope you receive what you were seeking or an understanding/acceptance of why it is not given. I am curious if you have received anything, as i have weak faith of my forgiveness for sins when i am Judged by Jesus.

      -Brother Steve M. /(FEARFUL OF GOD)

  7. Lumbani goli sichinga says:

    Dear brethren,
    Thanks you for exposition of the word on fasting and prayer. It has been helpful especially that you have noted that Chist expected us to fast. Fasting also sharpens our senses as we pray. Fasting reminds us our dependency on God. We concentrate more on g
    God than thinking on what our physical body need. It is time to feed and refresh our souls

  8. Anonymous says:

    Dear Steve,
    I have fasted and prayed in several occasion and times. but iam not able to continue it every week regularly and whenever i have failed to continue it . i have found my self filled with more guiltness and condenmation.i would honestly say that i know its important but i have never enjoy it much.Please tell me what should i do ?

    • Anonymous says:

      Do not worry about failure. Begin with short fasting periods and increase the time gradually. Keep praying for strength from God and you will be surprised how much you will be able to achieve through His Strength.

  9. Stephen Ajobiah says:

    I need a strong book that can teach me about the faith in christ

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