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Summary: All believers can multiply their effectiveness in prayer by utilizing the discipline of fasting.

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BIG IDEA:

All believers can multiply their effectiveness in prayer by utilizing the discipline of fasting.

Key scripture: Matthew 6:16-18

Why should we fast?

1. We fast in obedience to Jesus’ teaching. (Matt. 6:16-18)

2. We fast to demonstrate our dependence upon God. (James 4:10, 1Cor 9:24-27)

3. We fast to demonstrate repentance from sin (and to intercede for others who need to repent). (Jonah 3:5-10, Daniel 9, Nehemiah 1)

4. We fast to receive God’s wisdom and direction. (Acts 13:1-3, 14:21-23)

5. We fast to receive deliverance in times of crisis. (2Chronicles 20).

INTRO:

Having the right tool, and knowing when to use it, is critical to the success of a building project.

Terry’s been building an addition onto our home. When he arrives, he brings with him a van full of tools. He’s got an air compressor he can hook onto a nail gun which makes putting in nails a snap. He’s got a table saw, a circular saw, a “saws all”, a jigsaw. When he’s in the middle of his project, he knows from experience which tool to pull out and how to use it.

On the other hand, I’ve got these two saws. Imagine I were to try and do the job on my own with just these rusty, dull saws. It might be possible, but I’d waste a lot of time and effort. It would be silly. But imagine how silly it would be for Terry, who possesses all the right tools, to leave them in his truck and pick up my old rusty dull saws and go to work. This would be ridiculous!

This is exactly what the majority of Christians do when it comes to their prayer life. God has given each of us a powerful tool to use in order to increase our effectiveness in prayer, our spiritual power, and our ability to know God’s will, but most of the time we “leave it in the truck” and try to muddle through life on our own. What is this tool? It is FASTING.

As we come to the end of our 40 days of prayer, I want to introduce you to the practice of fasting, as it is taught in the Bible, and challenge you to begin using this discipline to hop up your communication with God.

Why should we fast?

1. We fast in obedience to Jesus’ teaching. (Matt. 6:16-18)

In Matthew 6, Jesus gives some foundational teaching about some activities that he assumes will be a part of the life of his followers.

Matt. 6:2 “So when you give to the needy…” Jesus then follows this with instructions about how to give in the proper way. Assumption: If you’re a follower of Christ, you will give to the needy. No problem, we know this.

Matt. 6:5 “And when you pray…” Jesus follows this with instructions about how to pray in the proper way. Assumption: If you’re a follower of Christ, you will pray. No problem, this is normal.

Just a few sentences later, however, Jesus mentions a third discipline of the Christian life:

Matt. 6:16-18 (NIV) “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, 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 men 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.


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