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Why Fasting Matters

Encouraging Prayer / James Banks
The Truth Network Radio
April 1, 2023 12:00 pm

Why Fasting Matters

Encouraging Prayer / James Banks

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April 1, 2023 12:00 pm

In this episode James and Robby discuss why fasting matters. 

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Enjoy it, and please share it around with all your friends. Thanks for listening, and thanks for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. This is the Truth Network. Encouraging prayer. God offers an open invitation for His people to talk with Him at any time about anything. On Encouraging Prayer, Dr. James Banks, author of the bestselling Prayers for Prodigals and many other books on prayer, provides weekly biblical insight to help you learn to love to pray.

And now, here's James. But today on Encouraging Prayer, we're going to talk about why fasting matters. James, this is a great theme for us to think about in the week right before Easter, right, when we remember Jesus going to the cross. But first, let's talk with a definition of what is fasting, right? Is it going without food or something else we enjoy in order to focus our hearts and minds on God and His purposes?

I think that sounds about right, Robby. You know, usually it's about food when you see it in Scripture, but it's not always. Sometimes it's even about sex there as well. So, you know, it's an important thing to recognize. I mean, fasting is a really vital thing for prayer. And I thought I'd start today with telling you about the first time I tried it, the very first time in my life. And that was about a fasting for direction. And there are really, today I'd like to talk about three different ways or reasons why we fast.

So that's the first, fasting for seeking direction. And that goes way back, way back in my life to when I was about 20 years old. And I was running from what God wanted me to do. Believe it or not, Robby, I really didn't want to be a pastor. Even though you sound like a, I mean, that was, everybody had to say, James, you sound just like a pastor.

You know, that was the thing that was just, you know, I mean, I was a kid and I had a knack for languages and I wanted to make money and, you know, I was full of myself. And anyhow, into all of that, as I'm running from this call to ministry, because the Lord really started calling me when I was about 14. I met a man who was just a good friend. He was a pastor, pastor to Black Church in Santa Barbara. His name was George.

George also worked in the library where I worked at the college. I'm running from God and I share the story with him about, you know, the struggle, what's going on in my life. And he says, well, when Jesus faced a decision, he fasted. Have you ever tried that?

I was like, no. So anyhow, I decided to give it a try the next Saturday. And I spent just about the whole day, you know, locked up in my dorm, just drinking water, reading scripture, and got toward the end of the afternoon and got nothing, you know. And then I remembered, well, my mom often pointed me to the book of James. So I'm going to go there. And I get into the fourth chapter.

And again, you got to remember, I was heading into international business. That's where I wanted to go. You know, that's where I was running from God. I get to verse 13 in James.

Let me just read verse 13 and following. Now listen, you who say, today or tomorrow, we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, if it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.

Well, Robby, what would you do? Especially if your name is James. Yeah, I see where that, you know, that fasting really was fruitful, wasn't it?

Oh man, it was. I mean, and that's one of the beauties of fasting. It helps you see things more clearly. You know, it helps you set everything aside and really focus in on where God wants you to go.

It's one of the best benefits of it. Well, second Samuel 12 tells us about how David fasted after, of course, he and Bathsheba had sinned and he was pleading with God for the life of their child. So David was fasting because he was repenting. I think he was just humbling himself before God, but also because he was trying to realign his heart with God's purposes. So, and you see that because immediately after the child doesn't live, then David gets up and goes about his life and, you know, his intent on serving God. And, you know, when we need a course correction, not just when we've messed up, but when we're, you know, when we feel like we've drifted or we're just not hearing the Lord, fasting can be so important at a time like that. And again, it doesn't have to happen for long. I mean, for me that day in college, it was actually just one day of morning and an afternoon. So, you know, God can use this in our lives.

Darrell Bock For whatever reason, the older I get, the more I enjoy it. At times that you can have a feast, right, as you fast, spending time with God that you really can't have, you know, when you're not fasting. I don't know how to put it other than that, but it's like you get on a plateau spiritually and, you know, like you would fast to lose weight. But to get off that plateau, a fast takes you to a different place that seems like you can only get there.

So, you know, to me, that's just spectacular. But what are some other reasons for you? Dr. Steven Connolly As you say that, I also want to kind of put a quick caution out there because fasting, people can regard as this super spiritual thing. And it's just a practical, biblical thing. And so we can and should talk about it because God has given us this tool. And once you start doing it, then you'll realize, you know what, there's a reason for this.

And it's really practical. So, you know, the third thing, it's great to fast when you're praying for others. And, you know, if you look at this inscription, you see, for example, Esther fasting when she's seeking God's protection for the people, or Daniel fasting in order to plead for God's mercy for his people.

The leaders of the church fasted and prayed to hear the Holy Spirit when they were trying to discern, you know, who they should send for the very first mission effort of the church. So, you know, this is, this is what we're called to do as we pray for each other. And I think about, you know, when my son was really struggling with heroin addiction, my wife and I had this habit of fasting together on Thursday afternoons.

Every Thursday afternoon, we'd skip lunch together and we'd just lift Jeff up. Could you pray for us, James, that God would help us to seek Him from the heart, including fasting? Yeah, let's pray together. Father, we know we need to do this, but often we don't want to, because we like food, we like our own teams, and you know what, but you've given us this as a gift. So help us to unwrap the gift and love you and praise you for it. In Jesus' name, amen. Now, you can hear more from Pastor James by visiting his website,, or by visiting Peace Church in Durham, North Carolina. May God bless you and encourage you as you pray. This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-01 14:27:04 / 2023-04-01 14:30:58 / 4

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