When my heart is full of agony and my life needs God’s guidance, I fast and pray for God’s mercy. Those times were when my dad had an operation for his cancer, when my husband was suffering in his work, when depression drew me into deep despair, and when I sought a new mind and physical health.
During the three days of fasting and prayer, I realized how weak I was. Unnecessary thoughts and emotions disappeared. Then I found myself standing in front of God humbly.
In the Bible, we can see that many people prayed and fasted earnestly. They gave a prayer of repentance and requested God’s mercy. God listened to their prayers and answered their cries. When they offered their commitment, they received the power of the Holy Spirit through fasting and prayer.
Are you going through a difficult situation? Do you want to renew your heart by repenting and throwing the old habit of sin away? Do not give up. May the word of God encourage you and help you to follow the examples of the biblical figures who gained the power of the Holy Spirit through fasting and prayer.
Examples of Fasting and Prayer in the Bible
Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
- Acts 14:23 NIV
There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.
- Ezra 8:21-23 NIV
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
- Matthew 4:1-2 NIV
Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.
- Exodus 34:28 NIV
Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
- Acts 13:1-3 NIV
Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.
- Esther 4:16 NIV
There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.
- Luke 2:36-37 NIV
They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
- Nehemiah 1:3-4 NIV
The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
- Jonah 3:5-10 NIV
Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the Lord. They fasted that day until evening and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord.
- Judges 20:26 NIV
Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he was there, he ate no food and drank no water, because he continued to mourn over the unfaithfulness of the exiles.
- Ezra 10:6 NIV
On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads.
- Nehemiah 9:1 NIV
Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.
- 1 Samuel 31:13 NIV
They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and for the nation of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.
- 2 Samuel 1:12 NIV
David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground.
- 2 Samuel 12:16 NIV
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
- Matthew 6:16-18 NIV
"‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you pleaseand exploit all your workers."
- Isaiah 58:3 NIV
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
-Joel 2:12-13 NIV
Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.
-Joel 1:14 NIV
Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother.I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother.
- Psalm 35:13-14 NIV
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