The Coming


7 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 prayer.

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 calls.

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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