Fasting May Be Needed
When personal and national problems weigh upon us, fasting besides prayer may be needed. When it is done under a heavy sense of burden and divine guidance, it has a quieting and beneficial effect on body, mind, and spirit. There is plenty of precedent for it in Scripture. The following godly people practiced it: Nehemiah, when he heard of the destruction of Jerusalem (Neh. 1:4); David (Psa. 35:13; 69:10; 109:24); Daniel, in the light of prophecies concerning "the desolation of Jerusalem" (Dan. 9:3); Anna the prophetess, who "served God with fastings and prayers night and day" (Luke 2:37); Cornelius the centurion, who thus prepared the way for an angelic messenger and Peter’s visit (Acts 10:30); Paul and Barnabas when they ordained elders (Acts 14:23); the Apostle Paul himself on many occasions (2 Cor. 6:5; 11:27). The context of most of these passages shows that very special blessings followed repentance and prayer accompanied with fasting.
When the Lord Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration and saw how the disciples failed to cast the evil spirit out of the lunatic child, He rebuked them for their lack of faith and said, "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Matt. 17:21). Our problem may not be identical, but it may be as hard to solve and require the same drastic measures. One does not often hear of real fasting--abstinence from food–as an aid to prayer in these days, though there are doubtless some believers who fast occasionally. Too often it is reasoned away and people are afraid of it, thinking that it will harm the body. On the contrary, in moderation it often does the body good.
It sets the mind free in a peculiar way for true worship, heart-searching, and the sincerest kind of supplication. It shows that we really mean business with God. We thus give Him time to pour His peace and quietness into our hearts. We may not quickly see the answers to the requests we are making, but we are almost certain to feel the immediate benefit of a special season of prayer and fasting.
Most Christians have peculiarly trying personal, family, and household problems in these days; and we are all aware of formidable international and national situations that could lead to disaster. Prayer and fasting may be the only answer.
– The Sunday School Times