Written & Published by: Daniel L. Navejas
Prayer & Fasting During the worst time in his life, Job made the statement … “I have treasured the words of his lips more than my portion of food.” Job 23 Jesus said, “Man can not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God “Matthew 4
And he humbled you and let you hunger and then fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the lord. Deuteronomy 8 Often times we casually consider fasting simply as a Christian discipline for the super spiritual or mature. However, in this week’s lesson you will learn from these scriptures that from the earliest of biblical history to the recent, both men and women of great and small stature have realized in a time of spiritual hunger & desperation that their circumstances would only be changed by the divine intervention or involvement of God that came through prayer and fasting. BIBLICAL ACCOUNTS OF FASTING & PRYAER •
Approximately 1,000 years before the birth of Jesus the Christ, in the time of King David’s reign, his little child became ill and the King David fasted for 7 days and told his servants, “…while he was alive I fasted and wept. Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me that my child may live? 2 Samuel 12 Although the child ultimately died because of King David’s sin, we can clearly see that King David had some knowledge or experience that taught him when circumstances are critical or needs for Divine intervention are necessary fasting and prayer (humiliation before God) is the thing to do. Selah
In II Chronicles 20, we read where King Jehoshaphat was informed that a multitude of three people groups, the Moabites, the Ammonites and the Meunites were planning to attack him and he was afraid. So he set his face to seek the lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. People came out of all the cities of Judah, even wives and children to seek the lord, unite in proclaiming God to be their God and to fast and pray. What were the results? God Spoke through a prophet, “Don’t be afraid. The battle is not yours, but God’s…you will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” What encouraging words to hear from God! In short, the King demonstrated his faith by appointing and sending out worshipers before his armies and as the Lord had said, God alone won the battle! What a victory.
Written & Published by: Daniel L. Navejas •
Ezra a great spiritual leader of his time asks permission of the king to take a copy of God’s laws to Judah and Jerusalem and bring back a report of the religious progress being made there. He was also to take some gold and silver as an offering to the God of Israel. So, Ezra gathered a large group of people and priests to go along totaling approximately 1,754 men from many districts. Prior to the trip, Ezra asked these leaders to join him in humbling themselves before God. They fasted and prayed for a safe trip, for deliverance from bandits on the way, and for the safe keeping of their children. Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river Ahava that we might humble ourselves before God, to seek from Him a safe journey for our children, all our goods, and ourselves. For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him”. So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty. Ezra Chapters 7- 8
Approximately 486 B.C., a plot to kill all Jews, including women and children, was made by the king Artaxerxes and this word was taken throughout all the provinces. The date was set for February 28 of the following year. In all the provinces there was great mourning, weeping and despair at the king’s decree. Then Esther, the queen, got involved. She heard the whole story from her cousin, Mordecai. So she asked Mordecai to gather all the Jews and fast, not eat or drink, for 3 days. Esther and her maids also fasted. “Then”, she said, “Though it is strictly forbidden, I will go into the king to make my request.” She did and the king gave her favor. He spared Mordecai from being hung on a gallows at the hand of Haman. In addition, the king reversed Haman’s decree to destroy the Jews throughout all the king’s provinces. The Jews chose the very same day, February 28, to celebrate their victory.
In the time of the Prophet Joel, we learn about the terrible conditions of the land at this time in history. All the crops failed. The cattle were without food and water. There were not even offerings for the priests. Joel told them to sanctify a fast. “Who knows? Perhaps even yet God will decide to let you alone and give you a blessing instead of His terrible curse. Perhaps He will give you so much you can offer your grain and wine to the Lord as before.” …“Sound the trumpet in Zion! Call a fast and gather all the people together for a solemn meeting. Bring everyone – the elders, the children and even the babies. “The priests and the ministers of God will stand between the people and the alter, weeping. They will pray, “Spare the people, O, our God. Don’t let them be disgraced. Don’t let us be a laughing stock….”. Joel 1- 3 The outcome? The Lord did a mighty miracle. Everything was restored. He gave them back the crops that the locusts had eaten. Once again they had all the food they wanted.
In the 8 century God told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and tell them that they were going to be destroyed because of their wickedness. But the very day that Jonah entered into Nineveh and began to preach that they were going to be destroyed in 40 days, the people repented. The people declared a fast. Everyone put on sackcloth, rough course garments worn at times of mourning. They cried mightily to God. They said, “Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will th
Written & Published by: Daniel L. Navejas
decide to let us live and will hold back His fierce anger from destroying us. “And when God saw that they had put a stop to their evil ways, He abandoned His plan to destroy them and didn’t carry it through.” Jonah
Real Thoughts & Real Talk I.
FASTING AND PRAYER MUST COME FROM A PLACE OF GENUINE HUNGER & DESPERATION. > Take a moment to imagine yourself in the position that these people and nations where in; the possibility of losing a child, imminent war, ambushes from your enemies, genocide of your people group, famine or impending death before you. Share what you think these people and nations felt and how you can relate to them emotionally. > Often but not always, the challenges that stand before us are the results of our own ideologies and behavioral patters. Share why you think this may push us closer or farther away from God. > Our lives may or may not be as extreme as the ones described here. However, each of us stands before various challenges that are often beyond our control; economically, relationally, through our careers and our health just to name a few. However, some of our challenges are not out of our control but simply outside of our ability to discipline ourselves. Discuss how you determine what is and what is not out of your control. > Like those mentioned in these stories, we must be willing to humble ourselves before God. What does it mean practically to humble yourself before God? > Our need of God’s intervention and real involvement in our lives must become a reality. As we begin a season of focused fasting and prayer, do you feel that you are truly hungry and desperate for God to get involved in your life? The kingdom of heaven is like a woman who lost a coin and moved everything around until she found it… Selah! Luke 15:8-10
Scripture Focus & Meditation II.
FASTING & PRAYER WILL ALWAYS CAUSE US TO SEEK AFTER GOD The Bible unmistakably teaching us that any time a person pursues God, he will be found! It is therefore reasonable to assume that as a person seeks after and pursues God, in the journey of finding Him will develop a greater relationship with God the Father, Son & Holy Spirit through the written word of God and the spoken word of God. Highlight and meditate on the following verses. Scriptures: Deuteronomy 4:29, Proverbs 8:17, Jeremiah 29:12-13, Matthew 7:7-8, Lamentations 3:25, Isaiah 55:6-7, Hebrews 11:6, Acts
Written & Published by: Daniel L. Navejas 17:26-27, 1 Chronicles 7:14, 28:9, James 4:8, Jonah 2:2, Psalms 27:8, 2 Chronicles 15:2 > Consider what it means to be a seeker and think beyond the normal religious response and answer the question. What is it that I am searching for? III.
FOR MOST PEOPLE, PRAYER IS A ONE WAY STREET. HOWEVER, GOD NOT ONLY HEARS US WHEN WE CALL OUT TO HIM BUT HE ANSWERS & OFTEN REQUIRES OUR RESPONSE OF ACTION IN OBEDIENCE & FAITH. SCRIPTURES: ISAIAH 65:24, 58:9A, JER. 29:3, PS. 91:15 > Earlier we asked the question if you were ready for God to get involved in your life. For most, the answer is assumed with out any real consideration of what that might entail. For some it required them to march into battle and do nothing as their enemies approached simply having faith that God would do what he said he would do. Yet for others, it demanded great actions. One way or another our obedience demands both courage and faith. Scripture: Luke 9:62 > Considered now the cost of having a true encounter and genuine relationship with God and what it will mean for you to be a true Christ follower. Is it possible that even before we make a step towards pursuing God, we are fully aware of what God will require of us, and that it might just be that thing that hinders you from fully pursuing God with total abandonment? As you prepare yourself for this journey of focused prayer and fasting, are you currently aware of anything God may be requiring of you? Faith In Action
As you begin to focused on prayer and fasting seek to milk it for everything its worth by implementing the following in. • • • • •
Intentionally journal the answer to questions asked in this lesson, thoughts & what you feel God is speaking to you. Intentionally highlight each scripture noted in this lesson and to go deeper read before and after to get a full panoramic view of the scriptures in context. Intentionally set apart time to pray & seek God Intentionally write down the areas you are asking God to intervene in. Intentionally know, that the Holy Spirit is your teacher and will speak to you.