Life changes moment by moment during a crisis, but God never does. He is sovereign. He is not surprised by crises, and knows what tomorrow will bring. God’s heart is moved by prayer. As our thoughts run rogue alongside ever-changing media reports and exploding social media feeds, the challenge to “take captive every thought” is overwhelming.
Prayer and fasting are critical in a crisis, bringing our minds and hearts back to focus on the One who is always in control, even when our world is reeling. “God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we think He should because He loves us, and He knows what is best for us,” wrote Billy Graham. “We see only part of the picture—but God sees the whole. This is why we must seek God’s will when we pray, and not just our own.” Created in His image, each person innately craves a close connection to God. The sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross allows believers to now come directly to God with the pleas of our hearts. We are promised that prayer is powerful, told to pray continually, and that prayer moves the heart of God.
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Fasting and Prayer Calms Our Hearts and Minds
Jesus prayed and fasted in the desert when tempted by Satan. He confidently answered each of Satan’s attempts to sway Him with the word of God. Christ is the Living Word of God. And the Living Word of God lives in every believer, through the Holy Spirit. The same power Christ used to silence the enemy then resides in the spirit of every believer now. In a crisis, focusing on God’s truth through prayer and fasting not only calms our hearts and minds, but encourages us to press on.
The reality of our fallen world is harsh and hard, and very present on our minds right now. A crisis brings out the best and the worst in people. It pushes our fears and insecurities to the surface, but it also has the potential to bring out the very best in humanity. Prayer and fasting, which draw us near to God, remind us we are created in the image of God. When we pray the very word of God over our lives, our situations, and our world, it cuts through panic and worry with Peace and Hope. The Word of God is sharper than a double-edged sword. God’s truth sustains us through storms of crisis.
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Fasting and Prayer Sharpens Our Focus When We Need it Most
Prayer and fasting exist alongside each other as important practices in the spiritual lives of God’s people. Their purpose is to draw us closer to God by sharpening our focus. We eliminate distraction, choosing instead to focus on God. Fasting, removing something from our lives intentionally for a period of time in order to dedicate that space to God, is just as important as prayer. Fasting in our modern world can include exchanging time on digital platforms to sit with God in prayer.
No crisis can stop us from obediently working for the Kingdom of God, but it may look different than we’re used to. God is faithful to go before us. Taking time to pray and fast allow us to hear more clearly God’s directives in times of crisis.
God is still littering our lives with blessings and miracles, but we will remain stuck in the doldrums of fear and worry if we are not intentional with our thoughts and actions. Sin separates us from God. When the temple curtain tore upon Jesus’ death, God’s forgiveness rained down upon all of humanity. However, it is up to us to accept His gift, through Christ, and confess our sins daily with an attitude of repentance. Sin kinks our connection with God. Confession and repentance clear the channels of communication.
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We Find Our True Reward in Fasting and Prayer
Prayer and fasting can be done corporately, but the personal connection of every believer with their Father in heaven, through the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus sacrificed His life to gift us, is of vital importance. Matthew recorded Jesus’ words: “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6 ESV) Christ spoke similarly of fasting: “that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:18 ESV)
What did Jesus mean by “reward” in regards to prayer and fasting? The same word is used in both passages recorded by Matthew. The original Greek translation defines “reward,” “to deliver, to pay off (things promised under oath), restore, recompense.” Jesus advised His disciples, and us, not to pray and fast for the reward of attention and applause from others. Matthew Henry explains in his commentary, “Sometimes secret prayers are rewarded openly in this world by signal answer to them, which manifests God’s praying people in the conscience of their adversaries.” The reward of the true Christian will be “before all the world, angels and men, and it shall be a weight of glory.”
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God Calls for Us to Move His Heart
We pray for God to move in specific ways of miraculous healing and provision in a crisis. Sometimes, He does move in the exact way we pray. Regardless of whether we see the direct answer to our prayers and fasting here on earth, they are heard in heaven, and we can trust God’s goodness and sovereignty in the way He responds. Prayer and fasting are important in a crisis because through them we remain connected to God. In Christ, the Living God lives in us.
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Fasting and Prayer Push Back against Fear
Crisis ushers in fear. There are very real fears to consider when we’re navigating through days that have been completely upheaved. Our livelihood, and our very lives, are suddenly on the line. Fear and worry are an inevitable part of a crisis, but we must not let it control and direct us. Prayer and fasting are important tools in the fight against fear and worry. Because the truth of God tells us we are not to worry. “Consider the lilies,” Jesus said to His disciples, and to us, today. They were more beautiful than Solomon. And they faithfully break through the surface every year. We are infinitely more important to God than any other aspect of His creation. Meditating on truths like Matthew 6:28 remind us of God’s providence, and renew our trust in He who sustains us.
Fasting and prayer remind us of the truth of God’s word, and the hope we have in Jesus. The pain in this world is temporary, and God hears our prayers. Billy Graham wrote, “One reason we know God hears our prayers is because He has promised to hear them! Even if He doesn’t always answer the way we think He should, He still hears us. The Psalmist declared, ‘As for me, I call to God … and he hears my voice.’ (Psalm 55:16-17)”
Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ as an author, freelance writer and blogger at Sunny&80. Her first book, “Friends with Everyone,” is available on amazon.com. She earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University, but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters. Besides writing, she leads a Bible Study for Women and serves as a Youth Ministry leader in her community. She lives in Northern Ohio with her husband, Jim, and two daughters
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Originally published Thursday, 04 February 2021.