I confess that I am not a biblical theologian, so please only take the word of the Bible and not my write-up. Please share any scriptures that point to a different or more complete explanation of these spiritual practices. The scriptures I used to make the key points are just a few possible passages we can discuss.
Faith in Jesus Christ is our means of Salvation. We would not have salvation without devoted faith in Christ’s sinless and finished works, His death on the cross, His burial, His resurrection, and His ascension.
- Everyone is unrighteous before God. Romans 3:10-11: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”
- The only remedy for our unrighteousness is to have Christ’s righteousness imputed to each of us. 1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:”
- Christ’s righteousness is received ONLY by faith. Romans 3:25: “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness because in his forbearance, he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.”
Knowing and believing in God and doing His works is not enough. We must have faith in Christ alone for our salvation. James 2:19: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!”
- Eph 2: “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
- 2 Cor 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight
- Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
- Hebrews 11 The entire chapter
- Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
- Luke 7:50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
- Luke 8:48 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
- Luke 18:42 And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
Let’s be careful how we understand this next statement, but it does not change the truth of God’s word. Prayer itself does not bring salvation. Salvation is by the grace of God in Faith in Jesus Christ.
Why should we pray?
Prayer is not to furnish God with new knowledge. He knows our needs. We pray to pour our hearts out to God, confess our sins, beg for forgiveness, and make requests for ourselves and others. Does He hear all of our prayers? 2 Chronicles 7: “14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.”
How to pray effectively.
“Prayer becomes effective only as the truth of the Scriptures shapes it. The Holy Spirit takes the Word and enables believers to pray in accordance with God’s will.” anonymous. James 4: “2 … You do not have to because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives, so that you may spend what you request on your pleasures.” How often do we pray for something without expectation or confidence that it will come to pass? Our confidence in prayer is directly proportional to our faith (trust).
Prayer is effective because God has chosen to use it to accomplish His purposes. Therefore, it is essential to know how to pray correctly. Prayer should include adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication (asking for something earnestly). We should not pray in a manner that does not glorify God. This is why knowing His Word and being directed by His Spirit when we come before His throne is essential.
How the Holy Spirit helps us pray with Faith.
In Romans 8, we learn that Holy Spirit helps us pray effectively even when we don’t have the faith we want.
Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. How does prayer complement faith?
Prayer and Faith are not separated but complementary. They are two sides of the same coin.
Do we have so much faith in Christ that we boldly ask for what we want? Read Matthew 8:5-10. How much faith did the centurion have? We need that boldness as well. Faith, at its core, is trust! Do you trust the word of God, Christ, as your personal Savior, God the creator of all, the power of the Holy Spirit?
Can prayer change the world?
Yes, without question! James 5: “…A prayer of a righteous person, when brought about, can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”
The Biblical definition
Fasting means, In Hebrew, it means to “cover over the mouth.” In Greek, it means “to abstain from food”. Still, fasting can be accompanied by other “things” we give up during this time of fasting.
I did not find anywhere in the bible that food was not given up for fasting. For instance, Daniel gave up food, but in addition, he also gave up wine and ointments. Dan 10: “3 I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth, nor did I use any ointment until the entire three weeks were completed.” Ezra 4:16: “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. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
The Purpose of Biblical Fasting
The brief answer is that fasting shows our dependence on God. Biblical fasting is not a hunger strike between you and God. Going without food puts us in a state of helplessness. Shows how we rely on His grace in every situation. Mandates that we ask in prayer for the Lord to help with all our hearts.
Scripture often links the spiritual discipline of prayer to fasting (Dan. 9:3; Luke 2:37).
Brief History of Fasting
The Law called the first fast once per year on the day of Atonement (Lev 23:27.) Christ atoned for all once without the need of an additional sacrifice, so we no longer look to a day of atonement.
The Bible contains examples of people who have abstained from food to seek God:
- Jesus fasted before He began His public ministry (Luke 4:1,2).
- Nehemiah fasted to help him confess his sins to God, turn away from them, and ask God for favor in the sight of the king of Persia to get permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:4).
- David fasted to ask God to intervene because of injustice (Psalm 35:13). In 2 Samuel 12:17, 23, he asked for a miraculous healing.
- The early church fasted while worshiping and committing their ministry to the Lord. They also sought the Lord through fasting for guidance when they appointed leaders (Acts 13:2; 14:23).
- To follow Jesus’ example
- To humble oneself before God
- To express grief or repentance
- To seek God’s guidance or answers
- To grow closer to God and worship Him
- To gain spiritual strength and freedom
- To discipline oneself and depend on God
- To strengthen one’s prayers
Are we required to fast?
Fasting in the new covenant is not commanded by God. Fasting is not a means to earn anything from God. Fasting is an act of humility where we acknowledge our lust for the flesh and then prayerfully focus more on who we are in Christ.
Fasting places no obligation upon God to respond in a way we have asked. He does delight in us when we show our helplessness in fasting, and He will respond by giving us more knowledge of Himself, a sense of our dependence on His grace, and yet He may give us the specific request we bring to Him.
For the Glory of God
Not to be confused with biblical fasting, but anything you refrain from self-denial of fleshly desires is a perfect way to bring glory to God. Denying ourselves and putting more trust in God will increase our faith, prayer life, and commitment to God.
Tie these three concepts together.
The best way to consider these three biblical concepts would be to group them as Faith and (Prayer and Fasting). Ultimately, the two are both sides of one truth (two sides of one coin).
Fasting and prayer are often linked together (Luke 2:37; 5:33). Fasting without praying isn’t fasting. It is dieting or deprivation. The only reason to fast is to make space for you to seek the Lord more urgently.
Prayer and faith are linked in prayer is the expression of faith, and faith is the foundation of prayer.
When taken together and acted on in unison, these three critical spiritual exercises increase our spiritual maturity, in which we grow closer to God and each other and increase our strength to take the Gospel to the world.