Steps to Fasting & Prayer
Most Christians are willing to fast if properly motivated and taught.
In this book, Dr. Bright has talked about the spiritual and physical
aspects of fasting and prayer. Let me give you some guidelines on
how to call your congregation to a corporate time of fasting and
First, prepare your congregation for a fast. Explain through
your teaching or preaching the spiritual benefits of fasting and
why your church needs to fast as a corporate body. Show from the
Scripture how the people of God fasted for direction, protection,
deliverance or spiritual endurance. Inform your congregation of
specific needs in your church, city, or the nation for which to
fast and pray.
A congregational fasting and prayer gathering should always be initiated
and directed by the pastor and leadership of the church. Individuals
should not act alone in calling such an event. Not every need or
crisis warrants congregational fasting, but certain occasions will
arise when a corporate gathering is necessary. The present condition
of our nation, for example, is such that we need to call all Christians
to fast and pray.
Second, set a specific time for corporate fasting. You
may wish to set aside one to three days, possibly a week, as the
Lord leads. Usually, it is best to start with a shorter period.
I suggest beginning the special convocation on Sunday. Hold meetings
each night for intercession, prayer and supplication.
You may wish to hold early morning prayer gatherings as well. Many
working men and women may prefer this time because of other commitments.
Mid-morning and early afternoon meetings may provide more suitable
opportunity for homemakers with young children. Be sure to provide
nursery care for children under school age.
Ask your congregation to choose the times most suited to their schedules.
Encourage them to set other activities aside, if possible, to devote
themselves to fasting and prayer during this period.
Third, give your congregation clear instructions. Provide
helpful material on the spiritual and physical aspects of fasting.
Be specific about how to begin a fast, what to do during the fast,
and how to break it. This information is available in chapters 8
through 10 of this book.
Most people would fast if they understood how natural it is to the
body. Often we do not feel like eating. This is common when we suffer
from a cold or fever, the flu, or an upset stomach. When extremely
tired or experiencing emotional pain, we sometimes go without a
meal. But our Western cultures have made us think that abstinence
is not good and may even be harmful. Explain to your congregation
that no one will die after fasting a day or two. Encourage them
to try fasting even if at first it only means skipping a meal or
two. Any amount or type of fasting is progress in the right direction.
Explain that discomfort is natural and encourage them to persevere.
Describe the different types of fasts mentioned in this book and
invite them to choose one or any combination of them.
Fourth, focus on prayer. Begin the meeting with a short
time of general worship and a brief message of encouragement and
instruction. Divide your congregation into small groups, perhaps
six to eight at the most, for extended periods of prayer.
You may wish to invite a special speaker to teach on humiliation
and brokenness before God or some other aspect of fasting and prayer.
But do not lose the dynamic of people sharing and praying in smaller
groups. Periodically, invite members of the congregation to share
what God is speaking to them. This will encourage others to continue
seeking the Lord.
Fifth, set up a temporary hotline. Those in your congregation
who are fasting may be uncertain how to fast or what they should
pray for. Staff the hotline with someone who is experienced in fasting
and can encourage fasters and share prayer needs. If a hotline is
not possible, appoint someone in your church office to handle the
Sixth, do not expect everyone to attend every day. As a
rule, you will have a group that will come faithfully each night.
Many of your people, however, may not be able to attend every service
because of other commitments. Encourage them to fast and pray at
home when they cannot come to the church. Be sure to congratulate
even the smallest effort made.
Seventh, teach your people to expect results. Never have
God’s people been disappointed when they have fasted and prayed
with a pure heart and godly motives. In my church we fast at least
once at the beginning of the new year. Often we hold fasting and
prayer gatherings on other occasions during the year as well. Always
we have witnessed extraordinary results in individual lives, in
the ministry, and in our city.
Be prepared to start a revival of major proportion in your church
or community. Hundreds, even thousands, may come to the Lord. Your
former “dead weight” church members may get on fire
for God and start asking you for more opportunities for ministry.
Your church’s financial situation may improve so much you
will have surplus funds to invest in missions. Your staff and lay
leaders may ask for more responsibilities and perform their ministries
with more zeal and dedication to the Lord. This could well free
you to spend more time in prayer and the Word as did the apostles
of the Early Church. There is nothing God cannot do through a church
that is willing to humble itself before God.
Our greatest spiritual victories are won on our knees and with empty
stomachs. A congregation that can be called to fast and pray is
an extraordinary gift to any pastor and to the Church at large.
[Excerpts fromThe Coming Revival by Bill Bright]
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