3 Reasons Why Most Christians Don’t Fast

 

I would say that most Christians these days don’t fast.  Here are three reasons why:

We have reacted against extremism.  Those whom we have read about in the Bible who have fasted, most of those in the early church who have fasted, and all the others we have talked about, I think were quite sincere and dedicated Christians; and I think their fasting was with right motives.  But I suspect that there were some that were off base, that is, they were extreme and legalistic.  Perhaps there were even some who were saying that you have to fast regularly in order to gain God’s acceptance.  I think this is why many people have revolted against fasting—because they don’t see the good side of it, only the negative side.  And so, because of those extremists, many have thrown it all out.  They say fasting is all bad, or it is something to be cautious about.  Moreover, they say, “I would never want to be like a monk or like any of those crazy fanatics!”

 We love food and hate denying ourselves.  There is no question that we in America eat too much, and we teach our children to eat too much.  Most of us have grown up with the idea that to be healthy we should eat three meals a day, and also snack between meals to keep up our strength.  I remember as a child being forced to eat all the food on my plate—even if I wasn’t hungry!   The sad truth is that most of the food we eat is not really good for us.  It’s too spicy, too sweet, and too cooked.  We don’t need all that rich food, especially the deserts and snacks.  We in America are much too fat!  And by our silly eating rules we are making our children fat!  But more than that, we are training them to lust for food, to eat food for the taste and for the pleasure it gives, not for health or for strength—because if we ate for health and strength we wouldn’t eat all that cooked, spicy food; we would eat more natural, raw food.  Thus because we have been trained to love the taste of food, and because we have been taught that we must eat three meals a day, with snacks between meals, the idea of fasting just isn’t logical to us.  And so we reject the idea all together.

 We have a wrong view of sin and grace.  There are some that believe that fasting has no place in this age of grace.  They would probably say that fasting in the Old Testament was essential for the purpose of mourning and grieving over sin; but now that we live in this day of grace fasting is unnecessary—because God forgives us of sin.  They believe that the more we sin the more grace abounds.  They would say, “We are not under the law; we are under grace.”  For this reason, they believe there is no need for fasting, that in this age of grace the Holy Spirit is with us to comforts us—and so we are not to feel pain or grief (which would come through fasting); rather we are to feel love, joy, and peace in the Holy Spirit.  This whole train of thought of course is wrong.  Just because God gives us grace doesn’t mean that we should not grieve over sin.  The Holy Spirit grieves over sin and so we should too.

So these are three of the reasons why people aren’t fasting these days.  But as we know, they are not reasons backed up with truth.  We have let Satan deceive us about fasting; we have not seen the good part of it, the good purpose of it. Please check out my blog entitled Eight Descriptions of Fasting to get God’s true purpose for Fasting.

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Our Prayers Will Fail If We Don’t Pray According to the Bible

 

Here are the last seven reason why our prayers fail, beginning with our neglect of the Word of God.

 Teachings on Prayer – We don’t let the Bible teach us how to pray.  Everything in the Bible was written for our instruction (Rom. 15:14).  All the prayers of the Bible and all the teachings on prayer, all the stories of how people prayed and how they had faith to pray (Heb. 13:7) are our teachers on how to pray.  If we fail to read the Bible and heed it’s teachings about prayer, we can’t expect to know how to pray; therefore, we will certainly fail in prayer.

 Unity – We lack unity.  Prayers will always fail when there is no unity in the body of Christ.  For where there is no unity in the body of Christ there is also no unity with Christ.  And where there is no unity with Christ there can be no answers to prayer.   For prayer answers are reserved only for those who abide in Christ (abiding suggests a spiritual unity).  John 15:7 says, “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”

Vigilance – We are not vigilant in prayer.  The Bible tells us that Satan prowls around like a roaring lion (1 Pet. 5:8), and if we are not alert and watchful in prayer, he will catch us off guard, lure us into sin, and keep us from earnest prayer.  I urge you to stay awake, be watchful, and resist Satan whenever he strikes!

Word – We don’t pray according to the Bible.  The Bible is our teacher and guide.  But it is more than that; it is the very Word of God. If we abide in the Word we have the promise from Jesus that whatever we ask it will be done for us (Jn. 15:7).  But the reverse is also true; if we don’t abide in the Word, whatever we ask will not be done for us, because we will not know His will.  Begin to read, study, and meditate on the Word today.  Let it fill your life and your prayers.  Soon you will find that your prayers will not go unanswered.

Xanadu – We have not found quiet places to pray.  What does that term Xanadu bring to mind?  Well, whatever you are thinking, the way I mean it here is a place of solitude and beauty and rest—a place where we find the presence of God.  It’s always hard to pray if our place of prayer is full of distraction, and if we are surrounded by things that would entice us to sin.  God wants our full attention and loyalty.  If we take the time to find those special, quiet places to pray, soon we will hear His voice and experience His presence.

Yielding – We don’t yield ourselves to God.  To yield yourself to God means to give up your own will.  It means to offer yourself to Him as a willing servant.  It also means to resist all the forces of evil working in you and around you.  If you do these things your prayers will not fail.  But if you refuse to yield yourself to God, even without knowing it you are yielding yourself to the devil and to sin; consequently, your prayers will fail.

Zenith – Our prayers are not focused.  When prayers have no direction and no focus, it is obvious that the intent of prayer is not to bring answers from God, but to puff up ourselves and draw attention to ourselves.  This kind of prayer can never succeed, because it does not desire to succeed in the way God desires and has ordained for prayer.  God’s plan for prayer is that prayers be specific, toward a desired goal, and with a Godly motive.  And when we pour out our hearts to Him for those things He will give them to us.  If you take this approach to prayer, soon God will begin to answer your prayers.

 

 

 

 

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We Fail In Prayer When We Are Not Exposed To Real Needs

 

Here are six ways we may fail in prayer. The first failure listed is that we don’t let ourselves be exposed to many of the real needs around us.

 Needs – We don’t see the real needs.  One of the reasons why we fail in prayer is because our prayers are not specific enough to meet the real needs of people.  It is possible that our prayers are too much for ourselves and not enough for others, too heavenly and not enough on the earth.  We may pray thanking God for all the beautiful things, but we don’t have eyes to see the sin, the suffering, and all the pain on earth.  Therefore, because of this neglect, we lack compassion for others and our prayers don’t carry the burden of their needs.  What value then is our praying except to make ourselves feel good; but in the end we find that that is deception and vanity.  If this is the case with you, I urge you to expose yourself to the real needs all over the world, and pray for those needs as God burdens your heart.

 Obedience – We don’t obey God.  Jesus has said to us, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.  And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (Jn. 14:21).  We see from this verse that when we love God by obeying Him, He opens Himself up to us and shows us His will and what to pray.  But if we don’t obey Him we prove that we don’t love Him or abide in Him, thus He gives no heed to our prayers.

Praise – We don’t give God His due adoration.  When we praise God we acknowledge His presence and show great delight in who He is and in what He has done for us.  Thus God’s presence is the basis of our joy and praise.  Accordingly, out of our praise we receive from God the energy and the motivation to pray.  But if we don’t acknowledge His presence by praising him, His Spirit will be quiet within us and we will lack the joyous energy needed to pray.  Yes, without praise it is very difficult to pray.

Quiet Time – We don’t have a regular quiet time.  A quiet time is the Christian’s devotional time.  It is our special time to be quiet before God. It is the time when we shut out all distractions and quietly meditate on the Word.  It is the time when we set our mind on things above and listen to the voice of God.  Thus it is a time for unhindered prayer.

But if you don’t guard this time, if you don’t seek to be quiet before Him, the devil and the world of voices will seek to take advantage of you; hence, prayers will be nothing more than saying words to a god you cannot hear—like having a one way conversation, or worse, like talking to yourself.  Don’t let this happen!  Don’t let your prayers fail in this way!

 Rest – We aren’t resting in His promises and believing in Him.  Your prayers will surely fail if you are not resting in God’s promises, and if your mind is filled with doubts, believing one day in God and the next day not believing.  That kind of person, according to James (Ja. 1:5-8), is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.  And so, for that reason, James says, he will receive nothing from the Lord, for God will not give His gifts to anyone who does not trust in Him.  I urge you to give your whole life to God today.  Believe and rest in Him alone and He will surely answer your prayers.

Specific prayer – We don’t pray specifically.  Prayers that are specific are prayers that express faith—because they express to God directly and exactly how much we need Him. This kind of prayer is real and honest and will always get God’s ear.  But prayers that are general and vague lack authenticity, and are prayed without knowing God’s will.  This kind of prayer is without faith and will always fail.    

 

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We Fail in Prayer When We Don’t Pray God’s Way

 Failure is a tough word. We may not like the idea that we can fail in prayer. But when we don’t pray God’s way and when we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to help us pray, that guarantees that we will fail in prayer. Here are seven ways many Christians will fail in prayer.

 God’s way – We don’t pray God’s way.  You will definitely fail in prayer if you insist on praying your own way instead of God’s way.  We all naturally tend to pray to impress others.  God wants us to pray, however, not to impress anyone or to show them how righteous we are, but simply to receive from Him what we need and what He desires to give us.

Jesus has instructed us to pray in this way: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” (Matt. 6:9-13).  Let this model prayer guide you in your prayers, praying always for the Father’s will—and then you will never fail in prayer.

Holy Spirit – We don’t pray in the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is that person of the trinity who helps us pray: He brings to us the desires that are on God’s heart, and then He helps us to express those desires in thoughts and words of prayer.

But the Holy Spirit cannot or will not help us in prayer if we are not completely given over to Him—if He does not fill our total being.  Therefore, the whole reason why we fail in prayer is because we have failed to make the Holy Spirit and Christ our Lord.  Make Christ Lord today and be filled with the Holy Spirit—and your prayers will never fail!

Importunity – We don’t pray with importunity.  Importune prayer means to pray repeatedly with persistence until God brings the answer.  This kind of prayer never lacks in hope and never lacks in energy; it is energized by the Holy Spirit who continually helps us to pray for the things that are on God’s heart.  Importune prayer helps us to set our mind on things above; consequently, our prayers will never fail.

Importune prayer is the only kind of prayer that is of the Holy Spirit and the only kind of prayer that God hears; thus it follows that your prayers will always fail if you don’t pray with importunity.

Jesus’ Name – We don’t pray in Jesus’ Name.  When one prays in Jesus’ name, he identifies himself with Christ and prays in harmony with the Spirit of Christ; therefore, he is able to claim in prayer victory all that is Christ’s.  But those who do not pray in Jesus’ name cannot claim anything in prayer, because they do not know the will of God, nor do they pray with power.

Kneeling – We have not prayed using the appropriate prayer posture.  If we refuse the posture of prayer that the Holy Spirit is urging us to use, whether it be sitting, standing, or on our knees, we are disobedient to God and we cut off from ourselves the true Spirit of prayer.  Yes, without a doubt, because we do not use the posture that the Holy Spirit suggests for us—that posture that is most natural and appropriate to pray the things that are on God’s heart—we do not enter into the correct state of mind for prayer; thus our prayers fail miserably.

 Length of prayer – we aren’t willing to pray long enough.  All prayer take a certain amount of time: time to humble ourselves and to be quiet before God, time to meditate on the words and thoughts of God, and time to listen to God and to wrestle with what God wants us to pray.  Moreover, we need time to properly express in words all the thoughts that God brings us, and all the requests that come to our mind.  Now since all true prayer takes time to work through, we will certainly fail in prayer if we cut that time short.

Motives – We pray with wrong motives.  The very heart and soul of prayer is in the motives of prayer. When we pray with selfish motives, thinking only to please ourselves with no regard to the glory of God, we corrupt our prayers to the core. God pays no attention to these prayers.

 

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Failure in Prayer – Part 1

 

 

Failure in prayer I think is mainly due to our failure in getting to prayer—because of our laziness and lack of discipline. But there can also be a failure in prayer even when we are disciplined to pray—because we just don’t know how to pray effectively. In the next four blogs (parts) I will bring to you 26 ideas (in alphabetical order) on why prayers fail (fail to receive answers). Today it will be A through F.

 Authority – Prayers fail when we don’t pray with authority.  If you have gone to prayer, and your prayers have not been answered, it may be because you are not abiding in Christ, nor are you executing the authority He has given you in Him.  Do these things and you will be able to resist the devil in faith as you use the Word of God with power in all your praying.

Burden – Prayers fail when we don’t allow ourselves to be burdened with prayer needs.  The main problem here is that of abiding in Christ.  For the one who does not abide in Christ is not willing to share God’s holy yearnings for others.  Furthermore, he does not have the sacrificial Spirit of Christ that is willing to lay down his life for his friends.  If you have this problem of not being burdened for others, which causes you to fail miserably in prayer, I urge you to take the following necessary steps in order to bring your heart in line with God’s heart: (1) Go regularly to quiet places to pray; (2) as you pray, meditate on the Word of God and confess your sins; (3) discipline your prayers with fasting; (4) expose yourself to the needs of others; and (5) be obedient to love and serve others whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Confidence – Prayers fail when we don’t have confidence in God.  If we have failed in prayer it is not from a lack of self-confidence but from a lack of confidence in God.  And that lack of confidence in Him results from our not having trusted in Him and in His shed blood for our sins.  My suggestion is that you prayerfully meditate on God’s word every day.  This will help you get to know Him and thereby have more confidence in Him.

 Desire – We don’t desire Him.  If anyone, man or woman, doesn’t desire God, they won’t desire to pray either.  And if they do pray, their prayers will be useless.  For desire is the basis of prayer.  It is the spark and the fire of prayer.  I urge you to pray for desire.

Perhaps you have unconfessed sins in your life.  Ask God to show it to you.  Perhaps you need to seek God with more earnestness.  Perhaps you have too many distractions in your life so that you aren’t able to hear God’s voice.  Take time today to seek hard after God.  And as you seek Him, meditate on the word and confess your sins.  Then when He shows you His will, pray according to His will.  Soon, as you get connected with God’s heart, you will grow to desire Him and your prayers will also burn with desire.

 Earnestness – We don’t pray with earnestness.  Earnestness means to be sincere, serious, determined, and fervent.  It is a term used in the Bible to describe how we are to love one another.  In 1 Peter 1:22 it says, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently [earnestly] with a pure heart.”  Thus we could say that earnestness in prayer has its root in love—love for God and a God-like, pure love for people. Pray and ask God now to give you this fervent love so your prayers will not fail.

Fasting – We refuse to fast.  Fasting helps us to be sensitive to the things of God and to gain a deep hunger and love for God. Moreover, fasting helps us to fix your eyes on heaven. Those who listen to the voice that calls them to fast will receive a great reward, but those who refuse to fast prove that they love the world (especially food) more than they love God—and so their prayers will fail.

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3 prayer requests for an effective witness

 

There is no need for any Christian to worry about whether his witness will be effective. Pray these three things and trust the Lord to do His work.

 

For the Holy Spirit to continue His work long after your witness.  If the Holy Spirit has led you with boldness to witness to someone, you can believe that He has also been ministering to that person—that is, all along the way He has been preparing that person’s heart to hear the gospel.  Bit by bit He has been liberating that one’s mind and heart from the power of Satan; He has been helping them to see their own lostness, to see that time is short, and to see God’s love.

Let me urge you to keep praying for that lost one. Pray that throughout your witness and even after you witness, that the Holy Spirit would continue His ministry of drawing that one to Christ.  Our witness may be short, or in some cases long and continuous; but prayer must continue even longer; and the ministry of the Holy Spirit will continue longer still.  So pray that way. Pray that the Holy Spirit would carry on His work long after our witness and prayers have ended.  

 

For the Holy Spirit to grant repentance to the ones you witness to.  This request I think should be the one we focus on most, for without repentance people remain in their sin.  But with repentance we leave the old life behind and we begin to trust in the Savior.  Repentance therefore is the key that unlocks the door to receive God’s grace.  Moreover, it is the way out of darkness and into the light.  According to 2 Timothy 2:26, repentance is what brings them to their senses so that they are able to escape the snare of the devil.

Let us pray then in this regard (as 2 Tim. 2:25 indicates), that God will grant them repentance so that they may know the truth. And let us take note of what Jerry Wiles has said: “You can lead people to the light.  But only the Holy Spirit can compel them to open their eyes.  You can speak words of truth to others.  But only the Holy Spirit can open their ears and their hearts to truly hear your message.”11  He does it through repentance, which He grants them.  Thus repentance is a gift of God.  It comes to us according to the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:7-9).  Praise God for His wonderful gift of repentance and grace, given to all those who will receive it.

 

For the Holy Spirit to help those you witness to, to make a decision for Christ.  I have often found in my witnessing experience that though the Holy Spirit has helped people to see the truth, they are not always willing to repent fully, because they still have doubts and fears about making a decision for Christ.  They will often express that the gospel “makes sense” and that they “want to” receive Christ but that they are just “not ready” or they just “don’t know for sure yet.”

Jerry Wiles, in his book, suggests that if this happens—and it almost always does—we should ask the person if we can pray with him that he would have the freedom to make the decision.  Here is his suggested prayer:

Heavenly Father, I ask You to free [the persons name], in the name of Jesus, from any tormenting thoughts or plaguing doubts that are keeping [the persons name] from making a decision to receive Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in his heart as his Savior and Lord12

 

11 Jerry Wiles, How to Win Others to Christ, p. 30.

12 Ibid., p. 136.

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Pray for the Holy Spirit to Open Eyes to See Four Things

 

For those we are witnessing to, we should pray that the Holy Spirit would open their spiritual eyes to see these four things:

 

1  That they would see that they are lost.  By lost I mean those who are separated from God because of their sin—for the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).  They are lost not because they have sinned (for all have sinned), but because they have not found a remedy for their sin.  I think a good description of the lost are those who don’t know the truth and therefore can’t find their way to God.

Pray that the Holy Spirit would help them to see their sin and to see that God’s penalty for sin is eternal separation from Him.

 

2  That they would see the certainty of hell.  As we have already discussed, the horrors of hell are certain for all that don’t have a personal relationship with God and with His Son Jesus Christ.  Pray for all the lost, but especially for those you have witnessed to or will witness to, that they will see the certainty and the horrors of hell and that they are rapidly approaching that destination.

 

3  That they would see the urgency of the time.  Pray for non-believers to see the signs of the times, and that when they see these things—such as, the increase in ungodliness (2 Tim. 3:1-5), wars, famines, and earthquakes—they will realize that their time on earth is short, that judgment is coming soon, and that they will not escape it unless they repent (Heb. 9:27).

 

4  That they would see God’s love.  There are two ways to motivate a person to believe. One way is by showing him what will happen if he doesn’t believe—explaining to him the consequences of his sin.  The other way is by telling him what will happen if he does believe—unfolding to him the grace and mercy of God.  Some say, the only way to get a person to repent is by showing him the law—by scaring him!  Well, I think that will work up to a point; but through it all, we need to show him God’s love.  Love is always the supreme motivator.  I myself was motivated to receive Christ not by thinking of hell so much, but much more by thinking of heaven, by contemplating how exciting heaven will be.  And the one who talked to me about heaven (my camp counselor) did it out of love. 

Remember the story of the prodigal son (Lu. 15:11-32)?  There are two reasons why the son returned home.  One reason was because he was hungry, tired and disgusted with the way his life was going.  But the other reason, which I think was the prime motivator, was because he remembered how good he had it before—he remembered the love of his father.

In our witnessing and in all we do with people, we should always show love to them, especially to our own children and to those we spend time with—because love will draw people to Christ like nothing else will.

Pray that your lost friends will see God’s great compassion, and that He is slow to anger and abounding in love (Ps. 86:15).  Pray especially that they will see the love of God in you, and that they will recognize that you are one of His disciples (Jn. 13:34-35).  Then hopefully some day they will seek your help and counsel regarding spiritual matters.

 

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