Just A Closer Walk With Thee

Part 2: Prayer and Fasting
If you learned $3 million dollars in gold lay buried somewhere in your backyard, would you try to dig it up? Of course, you would! And you’d probably be willing to destroy your entire yard to find it!

Knowing God intimately and pursing Him daily are rewards worth far more than gold, but few people dig for them. One way to begin is to practice regular spiritual habits, like biblical meditation, prayer, and fasting.

Prayer: A Lifelong Discipline
Martin Luther famously claimed, “I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.” Many well-known Christians have similar feelings.

The great 19th-century missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, admonished Christians to start every day in prayer; and he compared our days to a symphony: “Do not have your concert first and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him.”

For many of us, our prayer lives leave something to be desired. Either we feel too busy or ineffective, or we simply don’t know what to say. Most of us can’t imagine having a prayer life like the famous Christians about whom we read. But those men and women arrived at that point after years of learning how to pray.

An encouraging Scripture on prayer comes immediately before Jesus taught on the subject. After listening to Jesus pray, one of His disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk. 11:1). Notice who was asking: Jesus’ Jewish disciples. They had prayed many times every day throughout their lives. Yet they admitted their need for remedial prayer classes. And Jesus welcomed them. He always welcomes those who acknowledge their need to grow spiritually and want a closer walk with Him.

Learning how to pray is a lifelong discipline and requires an awareness of our need to seek God and depend on Him. Although we’ll certainly never pray as Jesus did, here are a few truths to motivate us to develop the habit of regular prayer.

Prayer changes things. God is sovereign over everything. No matter what we pray for, God’s will is accomplished; and it is a divine mystery as to how this fact relates to our prayers.

Nevertheless, God desires and commands that we bring Him our requests. Jesus told us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Mt. 7:7). He wants us to ask, seek, and knock on heaven’s door. When we do, we’ll receive, find, and have doors opened to us.

Jesus compared our praying to a child who asks his father for bread or fish. No earthly father would give his child a stone or snake instead: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (v. 11).

Our prayers are not wasted simply because God is sovereign. On the contrary, God is as eager to give us good gifts as we are to help our own children. Our prayers change things.

Prayer transforms us. James told his readers their prayers went unanswered because they asked “amiss,” praying to fulfill their earthly passions (Jas. 4:3). When we pray rightly, we pray for what God wants. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pray for what we want. Rather, it means God can use our prayers to transform our passions. When we submit our hearts’ desires to Him, He wipes away the petty and empowers the proper. He’ll change us to desire what He desires.

Regular prayer also transforms our understanding of our daily relationship with God. The Bible frequently reminds us that prayer deepens our awareness that we must depend on Him (Ps. 16; Col. 4:2–6; 1 Pet. 5:7). God asks us to come to Him weak, weary, and broken and to cast all our cares on Him.

God asks us to come to Him weak, weary, and broken and to cast all our cares on Him.

In fact, Jesus told us we can do nothing without Him: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5).

Do we truly believe that? If we do, we should pray constantly about absolutely everything! Through prayer, God makes available to us a steady flow of communication with Him. In prayer, we are fully known and loved as we bear our souls’ needs to Him all day, every day. One three-hour morning session of “popcorn prayer” barely breaks the surface of what our Father makes available to us in constant prayer.

God loves chutzpah. The meaning of this popular Yiddish word varies; but it generally means cheekiness, boldness, or nerve. Many have noted that Abraham, Moses, and even King David had this quality of persistence in praying to God. Some scholars have even argued that sometimes the concept of chutzpah seems to characterize what New Testament writers call “faith.”1

For example, when Jesus talked about praying and not losing heart, He told a parable about a widow who badgered a judge until she got what she wanted (Lk. 18:1–8). Sometimes God answers prayer because of our audacity and persistence. Our chutzpah demonstrates our faith.

Biblical Fasting
Biblical fasting is another way to grow closer to God. The Bible describes two major ways fasting connects us to Him:

1. It helps us focus on spiritual realities. When we go without the food that sustains us, we declare that our spiritual dependence is on God more than food. Fasting trains us to know in our bones that we are entirely dependent on Him for life and breath, as well as for all our other needs.

Every time I reach for that breakroom brownie, I’m reminded of the spiritual reality that I need God more than food. This dependency throughout a fast creates a special intimacy and constant-prayer connection to God.

Fasting also brings clarity to our prayers. There are times when we face a need so significant we’re willing to stop eating to pray. When we do so, we often find fasting is actually feasting on God.

2. It connects us to God’s priorities. Isaiah 58 reminds us that fasting, or any form of worship offered merely as a ritual, is meaningless. Isaiah told God’s people that fasting without obeying God’s laws and providing justice and compassion is worthless.

Biblical fasting should reveal to us the sin in our hearts and the areas we need to submit to God to become more like Christ. If that aspect is not part of our fast, we might as well eat. A true fast is not merely concerned with getting something from God; it involves letting God’s heart consume us.

If you’ve never tried a fast, I recommend starting small. Fast for one meal or one day, and pray and seek God for whatever need He has laid on your heart.

Some people like to abstain from things other than food. While that method can be valuable, especially for people who have medical concerns, the Bible has no concept of fasting from anything but food (and sometimes water).

Biblical fasting requires us to replace something that sustains us physically with the One who sustains us physically and spiritually. Please seek professional medical advice if you have a medical condition. But for the rest of us, biblical fasting can be a useful tool to strengthen and deepen our walks with God.

ENDNOTE
    1. Robert L. Lindsey and E. C. Dos Santos, A Comparative Greek Concordance of the Synoptic Gospels (Jerusalem: Baptist House, 1989).

10 thoughts on “Just A Closer Walk With Thee

  1. Thank you very much for taking the time to write this. I needed something like that to bring me out of my discouragement.
    Our God is awesome! He always sustains us with His words when needed the most.
    Praise God 🙏

  2. Shalom Dan,
    Thank you for your helpful advice. Although I always start the day with Bible Reading and prayer, I want to start fasting too, and will start by fasting first for one day with no food but water to drink, and go on to 2 days later. By the Autumn [Fall as you call it] or maybe by Chanukah, I hope to be able to fast for a whole week with water only.
    Shalom ve Brachot, b’Shem Yeshua, hu Adonainu, Malkainu ve Moshiainu.
    Tom Lori, Reading, England.

  3. PS. I don’t think that although I am 80+ that I’ll be anything like Rabbinu Moishe and fast 40 days and nights without water [Shmot 34:28] His life was one of relative hardship and walking everywhere, so was very fit, quite unlike us today, who have grown soft with sitting in our cars and offices!
    Brachot, Tom

  4. Shalom from Brazil. Thank you for your article.
    Im taking every wednesday of the week to fast. I start fasting from breakfast and end with breakfast of the next day, drinking only water.
    It is the spirit of what Jesus once said: “When you fast”, so He expects us to fast.
    I really dont like to fast, and am sad that I have this feeling. Time seem to go slower. To spend more time in prayer is definite a struggle, for it seems like I tend to repeat the same requests, though I pray for others, missions, peace of Israel, family, etc..also take Bible scripture and pray over them. I do love to study the Bible, hear and read other literatures. So I wonder, how should it be pleasing to the Lord this time of fasting? Am I on the right track? Hope I am clear on the way I wrote it down. Thank you for your attention. Awaiting His return. Rebecca

  5. Awesome awesome word i have a few medical concerns but I still be obedient to fast a hour or 2 hours because I need Jesus so badly.Continue to pray for healing in strength not only for me but for my family and those who desperately need God.Thank you God Bless!

  6. Thank you Dan,
    I Appreciate your writing about prayer and how We can do nothing without Jesus and they were his words not ours and he’s absolutely right because he’s our creator and all power was given to him form the Father above!
    I’ve never fasted before my life but I’ve went many days without eating until suppertime I got hollered at for it.
    Just too busy working at the Time I guess.
    I’m 73 years old and Love Lord Jesus Christ.
    I don’t know how much time I have on this Earth left but I’ll Love being with him in Heaven.
    Which I could give more to God’s Missions and help everyone in the whole world with Food and Living better.
    We are close to the Resurrection with all the prophecies being fulfilled the biggest one was Jerusalem bring the capital of Israel again , that’s awesome.

  7. At the age of a young 75 yr.old and being a Christian for. probably 35 or 40 yrs I struggle with being committed to do daily devotions and daily
    Prayer.I often find myself sometimes critical of how people in a church conduct theirself and get never discouraged, that could be part of my problem. Iam a student of bible prophecy, and was saved through thur prophecy. Could I reach out to you for your council and help me turn this corner. Thank you. Gene Terczak

  8. Thank you so much for the encouragement to dig deeper for a more meaningful relationship with God our Father. Life is so busy it is easy to get caught up in the distractions the enemy throws at us every day to keep us away from seeking time with the One who is waiting with arms wide open to welcome us into His presence. You are a blessing and I thank you for this reminder to be still and know that He is God in the midst of the madness.

  9. Thanks so much for the light thrown about fasting. It’s really touching. I’ve been struggling with the issue for sometime now partly due to health (stomach ulcer) challenge/condition. When I don’t fast I feel not just guilty but also empty (spiritually) but can’t help. What should be the solution?

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