Prayer and Fasting in Todays World
BY SANDRA G. CLOPINE
Fads grab us. Buzzwords come and go. Human nature thrives on its fickle tendencies.
One buzzword or fad, however, sweeping our world was not born of a fickle nature. It was born in the heart of God. Prayer has become a major theme throughout the Christian world. Prayer retreats, prayer seminars, prayer summits, and annual prayer and fasting conferences are in vogue. People of all denominations seek Gods face with eagerness, purpose, and spiritual hunger.
Books on prayer dot bookstore shelves. Both religious and secular authors write of prayers influence and practice in individual lives.
In 1993 I was interviewed by Jim Castelli for a secular book he was compiling on the topic of prayer. How I Pray carried the names of many well-known people such as Billy Graham, Norman Lear, George Gallup, Jr., and others. It was written to be placed in newsstands and convenience stores. My purpose in participating was that somebody might read what I had said about a lasting relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and would desire such a relationship.
Jo Kadlecek reported of a prayer gathering of some 40,000 children from all over the world who filled the Olympic Stadium in Seoul, Korea, in 1995: "They were not there to take in a sporting event, hear a rock concert or even a great evangelist. They gathered with only one objective: to pray."1 Thank God for the children with a heart for seeking God and for the Florida-based Esther Network International that helped organize the gathering.
Author Ronnie Floyd makes the point in his book that one of the primary functions of fasting and prayer is to help us discover what Gods ordained purpose and will are for our lives. True power is found in obedience to God and His Word.2
The purpose of fasting and prayer is not to give us power to fulfill selfish desires and ambitions. It is not for the purpose of manipulating God. It is not to elevate our status or personal agenda. Neither should it promote false piety or legalism.
Notes in The Full Life Study Bible suggest that fasting and prayer are a sign of the believers longing for the return of the Lord, a preparation for His coming, a mourning of His absence, and a sign of sorrow for the sin and decay of the world. The whole point is to honor God, express a penitent heart, and hungrily seek His will and way.3
The Psalmist says it well: "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God" (Psalm 42:1, NKJV).
Floyd expresses this need for hungering and thirsting after God in a bit more crude but practical way: "When will we come to that time in our lives when God causes us to crave the nourishment of a spiritual feast in His presence more than bellying up to an earthly smorgasbord?"4
Fasting and prayer should be a time of discovering, exploring, and enjoying intimacy with God. It should be feasting in His presence, identifying with His purpose, and denying the natural to delight in the supernatural. Jesus assumed His disciples would fast when He said, "When you fast," not if you fast (cf. Matthew 6:16,17). God help us to be as eager to fast with Him as to share His table of abundant provision.
Prayer is more than a buzzword in a world of fads. Prayer is the lifestyle of His true disciples.
Sandra G. Clopine was the former coordinator of the Assemblies of God National Prayer Center, Springfield, Missouri.
1. Quote taken from the newsletter News for the New Man, March/April 1996.
2. Ronnie W. Floyd, The Power of Prayer and Fasting: Ten Secrets of Spiritual Strength (Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 200.
3. Donald C. Stamps, ed., The Full Life Study Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1990), 141112.
4. Floyd, 55.