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Friday, November 28, 2008

Prayer and Fasting

And when [Jesus] had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, "Why could we not cast [the demon] out?" So He said to them, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting." (Mark 9:28-29 NKJV)

"You fast ... this day, To make your voice heard on high.
Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the LORD?
Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?"
(Isaiah 58:4-6 NKJV)

I wept and chastened my soul with fasting.
(Psalms 69:10 NKJV)

The discipline of prayer and fasting is a tragic anomaly in American Christianity. Even when we attempt it, I suspect few of us are able to fully shed our obligations and dedicate ourselves to the kind of fasting the Bible describes—weeping, afflicting ourselves, immersed in prayer. Fasting done well apparently builds fellowship with God and imparts sensitivity to what grieves Him.

I confess that I rarely manage more than what amounts to a 24-hour hunger strike. The flesh may be slightly subdued for a time (a good thing), but the spirit experiences little of the humbling, brokenness, and sorrow that build spiritual muscle and bend the Lord's ear.

The Bible never addresses prayer and fasting as an "if you fast" matter, but always takes it for granted as a "when you fast ..." matter. It is evident that Jesus was quite familiar with fasting. If we are His disciples, we'd do well to imitate Him, despite full schedules and busy lives.

King of the Universe and Eternity, how is it that You call us "friends"? Is it barely possible that You long for the same fellowship, affection and love that we do? Do You indeed seek out hearts with whom You might share Your deepest feelings? Please teach us how to be faithful friends.

Feedback invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2008, Anne Lang Bundy


  1. Anne, your post is certainly *food for thought* and pretty darn uncomfortable :-) Fasting I think forces our eyes away from this world and to the One who sustains us. I love your prayer at the end.

  2. Wow. Great post, and I have to agree with Amy. And if humility, brokenness and sorrow are what builds spiritual muscle and bends the Lord's ear, it's no wonder there are times we don't hear clear direction from Him.


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