10 Days of Prayer and Fasting

Posted: Jul 28, 2023

“God will not let me get the blessing without asking. Today I am setting my face to fast and pray for enlightenment and refreshing. Until I can get up to the measure of at least two hours in pure prayer every day, I shall not be contented. Meditation and reading besides.“
– Andrew Bonar, Scottish minister, 1810-1892

“Jesus takes it for granted that his disciples will observe the pious custom of fasting. Strict exercise of self-control is an essential feature of the Christian’s life.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“It will take nothing short of the supernatural to stem the tides of judgment devastating our land. I believe that nothing else can compare with the supernatural power released when we fast and pray. We know for certain from Hebrews 11:6 and from personal experience that God rewards those who diligently seek Him.”
– Bill Bright

“The state of the times extremely requires a fullness of the divine Spirit in ministers, and we ought to give ourselves no rest till we have obtained it. And in order to do this, I should think ministers, above all persons, ought to be much in secret prayer and fasting, and also much in praying and fasting one with another. It seems to me it would be becoming the circumstances of the present day, if ministers in a neighborhood would often meet together and spend days in fasting and fervent prayer among themselves, earnestly seeking for those extraordinary supplies of divine grace from heaven, that we need at this day.”
– Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

Several weeks ago as I was reading the Bible, I ran across this passage:

“Now whenever you fast, do not make a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they distort their faces so that they will be noticed by people when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But as for you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that your fasting will not be noticed by people but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
Matthew 6:16-18 (emphasis mine)

“When you fast,” mentioned twice here, burned in my spirit. I asked God if He was calling me to fast. The next day I opened a book I had been reading; right at the place where I left off, the author wrote about fasting for the first and only time in the book. I started planning for a three day fast that would begin several days later.

Initially, I didn’t want to fast. Denying the flesh weakens it, along with its ever-present “I want.” The flesh wants to gorge on food; it demands a life of comfort, pleasure, and entertainment, with sex on demand. Spiritual warfare and suffering are to be avoided. “Thy will be done” makes a nice sermon on the Lord’s prayer; “My will be done” is standard operating procedure for the flesh. Surrender? Are you kidding?

“The more grace we have, the less we shall think of ourselves, for grace, like light, reveals our impurity.”
– Charles Spurgeon

During the days leading up to the beginning of the fast, I saw there was too much of me. As we journey on the road to eternity and allow the Spirit of God to have more room in our heart, He shines His light on self and the fleshy parts of our soul. Then He may say something like, “Are you willing to surrender… fast… devote hours to prayer… set aside your desires and exchange them for Mine, do life My way… follow Me?” He’ll put His finger on our sin, disrupt our comfort zone, or blow away our theology by showing us we aren’t as right as we think we are.

Fasting intensifies the power of prayer. Shriveled, weakened flesh opens space for the Holy Spirit to fill and cleanse our earthen temple, and we draw near to God. We may never understand how powerful fasting and prayer are in the spiritual realm this side of eternity.

During the 3-day fast I increased my time in prayer and in God’s word. Time spent online was reduced to as little as possible. No movies or TV. I focused on praying for the following:

More of God and less of me.
Family situations that were going the wrong way.
Renewed strength.
That God would bring down the walls and strongholds in church leadership that keep them talking openly about sexual issues. This keeps coming up repeatedly, everywhere; God showed me that focused prayer and fasting in this area was needed.

On the third day of this first fast, there was an event that popped in someone’s life I had been praying for. I say first fast, because immediately after the 3 days were over God showed me another 7 days of fasting were needed. I began the second round a week later.

On the second day, I got convicted of some attitudes I had been harboring that were off. Conviction, when received and dealt with properly (confession of sin and turning away from it) is a gift and blessing that leads to more freedom and peace with God. I’ll take it.

As I moved forward, I found myself praying in Psalm 119 often, beginning in verse 147:

“I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I wait for Your words.
My eyes anticipate the night watches,
So that I may meditate on Your word.
Hear my voice according to Your faithfulness;
Revive me, Lord, according to Your judgments.
Those who follow after wickedness approach;
They are far from Your Law.
You are near, Lord,
And all Your commandments are truth.
From long ago I have known from Your testimonies
That You have founded them forever.
Look at my affliction and rescue me,
For I have not forgotten Your Law.
Plead my cause and redeem me;
Revive me according to Your word.
Salvation is far from the wicked,
For they do not seek Your statutes.
Great are Your mercies, Lord;
Revive me according to Your judgments.
Many are my persecutors and my enemies,
Yet I do not turn aside from Your testimonies.
I see the treacherous and loathe them,
Because they do not keep Your word.
Consider how I love Your precepts;
Revive me, Lord, according to Your faithfulness.
The sum of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous judgments is everlasting.
(Emphasis mine.)”

As I leaned into “revive me” prayers, my hunger for more of God accelerated. Prayer, always a wonderful gift, was even more of a joyful blessing. There was more pressing in, more delight in Him, more God-hunger.

On the third day, God gave me a sense of releasing everything to Him.

The fifth day, I hit a wall. Notes from my journal:

At one point this afternoon I felt so weak I wondered if I was supposed to keep going. Yet, the Holy Spirit nudged me onward. Later in the evening, during prayer, God brought Isaiah 40:31 to mind:

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

…which reminded me of His promises to strengthen me in Isaiah 41.

The weakness I experienced was a good thing; it was a signal of the flesh pining away and giving more room for God.

“Martin Luther felt that in our flesh there dwelleth no good thing, in another sense than the apostle meant it; and he used to fast frequently. He says his flesh was wont to grumble dreadfully at abstinence, but fast he would, for he found that when he was fasting, it quickened his praying. There is a treatise by an old Puritan, called, “The soul-fattening institution of fasting,” and he gives us his own experience that during a fast he has felt more intense eagerness of soul in prayer than he had ever done at any other time.”
– Charles Spurgeon, from a message he gave in 1864.

On the seventh day, God gave me Psalm 69:32: You who seek God, let your hearts revive.

I’m now planning another round of prayer and fasting next month. We need this so desperately right now. Give me a church of believers on their knees in prayer and fasting, and breakthroughs and shattered strongholds are sure to come.

“In Shanxi I found Chinese Christians who were accustomed to spend time in fasting and prayer. They recognized that this fasting, which so many dislike, which requires faith in God, since it makes one feel weak and poorly, is really a Divinely appointed means of grace.  Perhaps the greatest hindrance to our work is our own imagined strength; and in fasting we learn what poor, weak creatures we are – dependent on a meal of meat for the little strength which we are so apt to lean upon.”
– Hudson Taylor, missionary to China, 1832-1905

“David Brainerd prayed with fasting for the Lord’s leadership regarding his entry into ministry. He said of his experience during that day, “I felt the power of intercession for precious, immortal souls; for the advancement of the kingdom of my dear Lord and Saviour in the world; and withal, a most sweet resignation and even consolation and joy in the thoughts of suffering hardships, distresses, and even death itself, in the promotion of it…. My soul was drawn out very much for the world, for multitudes of souls. I think I had more enlargement for sinners than for the children of God, though I felt as if I could spend my life in cries for both. I enjoyed great sweetness in communion with my dear Saviour. I think I never in my life felt such an entire weanedness from this world and so much resigned to God in everything.”
– Jonathan Edwards