‘The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah.’” – Zechariah 8:19 NIV
Today, we don’t take much joy from the idea of fasting. Deny ourselves something to eat when we’re surrounded by a culture that emphasizes the availability of fast, cheap food?
The late Roselyn Talcott pondered this idea beginning in the early 1970s. She was a woman of deep faith who learned the importance of prayer and fasting, not only for her own spiritual journey but to open the way for God to do mighty works.
Along with her husband, John Talcott, Jr., and Sally Fesperman, she was a co-founder in 1973 of Intercessors for America, an organization dedicated to establishing a movement for prayer and fasting in order to help build a more godly society.
Mrs. Fesperman remembers meeting for prayer with the Talcotts and other Christians and seeking solutions to the many troubling social issues that confronted America more than four decades ago.
“How did we get here? Who are we as a people [referencing our godly Pilgrim heritage]?” she asked.
Fasting with prayer helps open the mind to answers for these and other spiritual questions. It also commits us to something bigger than ourselves and our immediate physical comforts. Additionally, fasting compels us to draw on deep inner wells of strength that only God can provide. As we rely on Him, the physical discomfort of temporary hunger fades like background noise. In its place, we feel serenity and a deeper connection with our Savior.
Christ offered the ultimate example of relying on God in Matthew 4:1-11 when He entered the wilderness to fast and pray for 40 days. The strength God provided was so great that Jesus did not hesitate to rebuke the devil, reminding him that, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
As mothers, we can fast for periods of time in order to demonstrate for our children the ability of God’s grace to sustain us. When our children reach the age at which they can decide whether fasting is right for them, they will look back on our examples and perhaps decide to pursue this spiritual discipline.
But fasting without earnest prayer is little more than a sort of yo-yo diet. Don’t confuse this with any other reasons such as weight loss or a jumpstart to a diet plan.
Remember the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6-7:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
As we fast and pray, we should remember to seek God’s help not only for the needs of our families and friends, but also for all nations.
In an interview after helping found IFA, Mr. Talcott described fasting and prayer as “a battle, both spiritually and physically” but as necessary to purify our faith and as a tool for igniting a spiritual rebirth in our nations.
“People today go along seeking the comfortable things in life rather than the purposes of God,” he said.
“Many people do not seem to have real faith awakened. We must take care to see that we don’t become preoccupied with the niceties of this world and lose sight of the fact that this world is not our permanent home. If we are not living for the purposes of God, we’re just wasting away a lifetime.”
Don’t think of fasting as an outdated practice that has no meaning to modern-day Christians. Instead, look at it as a powerful tool that can help build your bond with God.
Rely on others to help you in this portion of your spiritual journey. Band together with other believers who are fasting at the same time. Pray for each other and encourage one another. Fasting is a discipline that will bring us into a new dimension of prayer.
Kris Kubal is Social Media & Marketing Manager at Intercessors for America. Visit GetOutThePrayer.com and sign up to fast and pray with us.
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