Prayer and Fasting

Teaching on prayer and fasting.  

Review: Last week taught on the motive or the “why” question we should ask ourselves about fasting. The answer to “why fast” was revealed in the scripture when the disciples could not cast out demon from a boy even though they had been having success in others.

This kind cannot come out except by prayer and fasting.  Mark 9:29

“This kind” is not referring to the demon but to the subject of unbelief the disciples had in them that was hindering their success.

          Verse 19 “O faithless generation . . .”

          Verse 23 “If you can believe . . .”  

2 kinds of unbelief:

1.   Ignorant unbelief - Romans 10:3 and 14-16.

Speaking of Israel Paul writes, “For being ignorant of God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to the righteousness of God. Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness for everyone who believes.”  Romans 10:3-4

“How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? . . . “So then faith comes by hearing, and by hearing the word of Christ.”  Romans 10:14 and 17.

Side note: KJV “Word of Theos God” but NAS, NLT, NIV more accurately translate as “Word of Christ”.  What’s the difference?

          NT and New Covenant focuses on Christ and His grace or finished work of God. Paul said in Acts 10:32 “So now brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

-        What is able to build you up? The Word of His grace – finished in X.  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.”  Col. 3:16

Hear messages full of grace and the finished work of Jesus. Hear your sins have been forgiven. Hear that you are already the righteousness of God in Christ. Hear that whatever your diagnosis you are the healed of the Lord. His words of grace impart faith and hope to you.

Back to review Mark 9. The disciples could not cast out this demon, but it was not because of ignorant unbelief because they were casting out demons from people. But this one they couldn’t. Their question and our question should be why are we not receiving what God promised us?

-        The problem is not on God’s end – it must be something in us.

2 kinds of unbelief:

1.   Ignorant unbelief 

2.   Natural unbelief – dominated by 5 senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch.

They cast demons out of others and saw the manifestation. This time they use their authority and they don’t see anything so they revert to unbelief and maybe said, “I don’t see anything changing.”

Jesus’s answer was revealing the purpose behind fasting. Fasting with prayer is to deny your 5 physical senses and strengthen your inner man. Fasting was for the purpose to deaden the 5 physical senses and pay more attention to the Spirit.

Why should we have times of fasting and prayer: To weaken the domination of the physical senses and to strengthen the inner man.  

2nd “Why?” question.

Why pray?

If your answer is, “Because God wants us to”, you have already become religious and may not have the right motive for prayer.

Jesus’ first teaching on prayer is Matthew 6:

“When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners that they may be seen of men.”  Matthew 6:5

-        The religious motivation of prayer is that it is something I should do. Prayer is like a religious workout. I work out at the gym because I should exercise to be healthy.

-        Dictionary defined prayer as a religious exercise!

Defining prayer:

1.   Talking to God.   

2.   Conversation with God.

3.   Paying attention to God.

-        Lectio Divina

-        Journaling

-        Soaking

Why am I doing this?

“But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking (or long time in prayer).” Matthew 6:7

Prayer becomes religious and vain repetition when you try to use it for something God never intended.

Many people believe the longer I pray the better. Not necessarily. Only twice in NT did Jesus pray all night.

Prayer with God should be something you enjoy and not a labor. You can pray with your eyes open, closed, kneeling, standing, driving, talking out loud or quiet. Don’t limit your relationship to God to times of prayer or church. Walk and talk with Him throughout your day. Don’t be religious about prayer making it only special times.

Prayer should include thanksgiving for all God has done for you.

Praise for who God is to you now.

Asking and receiving things you need from God.

“For your Father knoweth what things you have need of, before you ask Him.”  Matthew 6:8

Have you ever prayed, “O God the doctor said . . . and then you give Him all the details of that report?

Ill. The Lord interrupted Charles Capps one time in prayer saying, “Charles, what are you doing?”

“I’m praying.”

“No, you’re not. That’s complaining!”

Many are releasing the power of death into their lives by their tongues speaking negative things.

Jesus never intended what we call the “Lord’s prayer” or the model prayer to be recited like it is in church. Actually it is not a NT or New Covenant prayer. Jesus taught us to pray in His name in John 16:23-24 and here it is not done.

“forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation.” Mtt. 6:12-13

-        This is not a New covenant prayer. Your sins have been forgiven once you have believed and received Jesus. This was spoken before the cross. HS led Jesus into temptation on our behalf and He overcame the devil. Today if you are being led into temptation you can be sure it isn’t God.

What if you prayed more like this: “Father I thank You that Your name is above every name? Cancer has a name. Heart disease has a name. These things the doctor told me are in body have names. You are above them all. Thank You that You are greater, stronger, and more powerful than all this.” Spend another 5 minutes just praising Him for His greatness. Then by the time you are ready to put a requests before Him it is so small in comparison to you magnifying God that now you are ready to claim your healing.

Focus on the problem and it will grow. Focus on God (who is your solution) and your vision of Him will increase.

A huge amount of prayer should be praising God.

One of the original words for “prayer” means “worship”. Another word for prayer literally means “to kiss the face”. Prayer is loving and communing with God.

Sometimes prayer can be hard because of spiritual opposition trying to discourage you in prayer. Prayer is a mysterious thing and yet it is the will of God that we all become a house of prayer.

Prayer is co-laboring with God on earth.

Pray for your pastor to speak God’s Word and lead God’s church.

Prayer is preparing the way of the Lord.

Pic of railroad tracks

Ill. Watchman Nee said prayer is rails to a train to run on. The train is the power but it can only go where the rails have been laid. Unless we pray there are no rails for God’s power to reach the destination.

Ill. God already declared the Day of Pentecost would come and He would pour out His Spirit on men. But after Jesus ascended the people devoted themselves to prayer until the Day of Pentecost came. At first their were over 500 eye witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus but on Pentecost their were 120 in the upper room praying.

          What were they praying? We don’t know for sure but my guess is they were praying for what Jesus said He would do in Acts 1:8 quote.

Not knowing exactly what this would look like, yet they were laying down tracks for the power train of HS to come just as Jesus said He would do.

What kind of prayer should our requests be?

1.   First to find the will of God in His Word.

2.   Then pray the will of God be done – lay down the tracks for God’s power train to run on!

3.   When the Pastor is about to preach you should be laying down tracks like, “Lord, inspire the Pastor with life giving words form you. Give him power from You overcoming every obstacle and hindrance the enemy would send. Protect him from the attacks of the enemies tricks and schemes. Make the message fruitful for souls to be saved, lives changed by You speaking to and through him to us.”

Prayer confession:

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for the gift of prayer and for teaching me how to use it. Thank You for teaching me that there is more to life than what I can see or feel. I am learning not to react or be moved by what I see, feel or experience. I have the God kind of faith. God’s Word is in my heart and in my mouth. I have spoken my faith and I believe I receive Your answer. Though I haven’t yet seen the physical results, I know I have them and am unmoved by negative feelings.

Thank You God, that Jesus is my High Priest in heaven, and He said I can have whatever I say that is agreement with Your will. So, I ask that You begin to teach me how to pray in faith believing Your Word over all my situations. From this day forward, my prayers are laying down tracks for Your powerful answers to be manifested in my life. All the glory belongs to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen!