The Bible is filled with examples of how prayer and fasting have brought the people of God into a closer relationship with God. God is immovable, but it is we who are making a move closer to God when we pray and fast. We can hear Him better both as an individual and as a church. Understand that our spiritual health and wellbeing as a Christian has a profound effect on the spiritual health and wellbeing of the rest of the body of Christ – THE CHURCH! So, we want all of us to be spiritually healthy for your sake, my sake, and the sake of everyone.

Let us read from Isaiah 58:1-9. The Devil wanted us to stay uninformed and misinformed or misunderstand prayer and fasting altogether. He doesn't want us to know the value of abstaining from food or drink for a season so that we could focus on God, and as a result of that time of prayer and fasting, the Spirit does His inner work in us and through us.

We gather spiritual strength and understanding to abandon the work of the flesh that Isaiah mentioned in 58:1-9. Prayer and fasting that comes from sincere hearts bring out the power of the Risen Christ in us by the Spirit – we become administrators of social justice and mercy. We become conduits of deliverance, of freedom, provision, a channel of love for others that they could see the light of Jesus! Isaiah 58:6-9 tells us that our time with God through prayer and fasting should make us better Christians. True Fasting brings inner transformation, not behavior modification.

Behavior modification was a rampant practice in Bible days, both in the Old and New Testament. People focused so much in trying to appear spiritual in the inside by imposing the do’s and don’ts in the religious circle. The Father could not stand such arrogance and spiritual bankruptcy, so He passed on a stern rebuke to these people through the Prophet Isaiah who certainly was moved by the Spirit of God.

Another thing that we can acknowledge is the fact that Fasting was a common practice in the New Testament.

(Matthew 6:16-18). 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."

This spiritual discipline flowed from the spiritual practice among the Jews in the Old Testament and continued among the Christians in the New Testament church. Matthew wrote his gospel primarily with the Jewish audience in mind. When enabling Matthew to write, the Holy Spirit need not introduce the concept of fasting because the Jewish people and the Jewish nation already know what fasting is and how this spiritual exercise is being done both in individual and corporate scale, time immemorial from the Old Testament. We have to understand that at the time of Jesus, there was no New Testament, only the Hebrew Torah – OT. From the Torah, they already knew that they should fast three times a year. They fast when they need specific instruction from God, whether that would be over seeking direction over a major decision in life, or even the simple questions they may have for God to answer. They fast to repent before God. They also fast when they need God to protect and deliver them from oppression and attack of the enemy or for protection.

It was unfortunate that religion and legalism that Isaiah addressed in 58:1-9 persisted after thousands of years up to Jesus’ time. Jesus corrected the Pharisees and the religious people of their spiritual arrogance. They completely missed that their arrogance exposes their ignorance and lack of humility more than anything.

(Matthew 6:16-18). 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."

And, Jesus was yet to teach them a lesson.

Luke 18:9-14 - The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

9 To some who were confident of their righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:

10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.

12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Jesus Was Questioned About Fasting - Luke 5:33-35/Mark 2:18-19

33 They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”

34 Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?

35 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”

Friends, that day is now! More than ever, we need to pray and fast for our benefit. Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 days. While in Mount Sinai, Moses fasted for 40 days and 40 nights too. We can see a connection in their actions. When Moses fasted that long, he was fasting for himself and the whole nation, and so, we know that at the end of his fast, God gave him the ten commandments. When Jesus fasted in the wilderness, he fasted to prepare himself for ministry and to inquire of the Lord who would be in his team. He fasted for Himself, for others and all.

It was also during his fasting when he slammed the Devil. If I put myself in Satan’s shoes, I would not even dare to tempt Jesus in that season. It would be the dumbest idea. The timing of the temptation was wrong. He completely ignored the fact that Jesus was spending time with the Father for that long already. He fully human, he would not even have ears for other voices. His spiritual antenna was at the highest. All that Jesus could hear and smell in the mountain was the voice and the scent of God!

Beloved, IF you hang out with God in humble posture through prayer and fasting long enough, and you do this on a more regular basis, You are a massive threat to the Devil. Keep in your heart and mind that You are on the winner’s side not on the loser’s side! So timing is important!

In the Bible, mountains are symbolic of nearness or closeness to God.

Our Father in heaven is a good Father. Like any Father, He always wanted the Jewish nation to get close to Him. In Christ, we who are not Jews by blood have become one of them. The Bible says that, by the blood of Jesus, we have been reconciled to God. We have been adopted by Him. We are now called sons and daughters of God. God put us in a priestly position;

I Peter 2:9 9 But you are not like that, for you have been chosen by God himself—you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God’s very own—all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. (The Living Bible)

He did that so that we might exercise our authority in heaven and on earth. Matthew 18:18-19 says, whatever we bound on earth will be bound in heaven – and then Jesus continued on to say, that if the people of God are in agreement, in unity, our authority in Christ is established and His divine power is released. We see God-thing happen before our eyes.

Matthew 18:17-19

17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, regard him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, I tell you truly that if two of you on the earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven.

On Day 3 of our Israel tour, on the way to the Dead Sea, we traveled through the Judean desert to see one of Israel’s most popular archaeological tourist attraction on top of the Mountain in the middle of the desert in the Dead Sea Region. The place is called Masada. Masada was a 2000-year old palace and fortress of King Herod the Great. He was King Herod who commanded the killing of babies two years old and below hoping to kill baby Jesus. We got to Masada just short of 11 am, so our only option was to take a cable car. As we were waiting, we could tell by the silence that we were all intimidated by the height from where we were to where we’re going. Allan said to me, don't look down just look up. So I did. In a matter of minutes, the cable car landed. We were on top of the mountain. I must confess that I was terrified. I was nearly crawling in the walkway to the entrance of the site.

But then when I started to look around, I was mesmerized by the view from the top down. I feel like I was isolated from the rest of the world. I got a good view of the desert, the mountain far and wide, down and beneath, and the stretch of the Dead Sea was unbelievable. My fear and hesitation started to go away, and I began to enjoy the feeling of being there. I started to take small steps up, and before I noticed, I was running from side to side near the edge of the fortress. It was selfie time. I was no longer afraid to look down. I could see the whole Judean desert and the Dead Sea. I can see everything. I can hear the sound of the wind in its slightest move which I was sure I would miss without a thing if not in that place. In that breathtaking views, I felt like God invited me to the mountaintop so I could see the whole landscape better; have a complete view from the top and have a better view of the place which would not be possible if I stayed just 400 meters down. I felt closer to God.

There are times when God wanted us to go up in high places for two compelling reasons: one is to get close to Him and two, so, we can see the full landscape of the masterpiece he is working in our lives at a particular time instead of us just having a tiny view of it.

Do you need to inquire of the Lord of what His say on a particular matter in your life? Do you need to go up “in the mount of the Lord” so you can hear better?

Jesus modeled it to us; it is by prayer and fasting.

Matthew 17:21 Amplified Bible (AMP)

21 [a][But this kind of demon does not go out except by prayer and fasting.]”

Are you living in fear? Are you afraid of something in and about your life that would not just go away? Have you been asking God to instruct you, but you could not hear Him, yet, I recommend that you go on the mountain of the Lord – pray and fast!

What makes my experience in the Judean desert special and personal is the fact that somewhere around that desert, 2000 years ago, Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights. Only God knows if the place I was standing was the place it happened. Right in that place was the place where Jesus, the Word Incarnate stood and lambasted Satan. Satan’s power could not match the power of Jesus who refused and confronted each temptation, with the spoken Word. Satan then departed, and Jesus returned to Galilee to begin his ministry. Are you facing a major decision in life that could either make or break not only your future but of those around you?

Acts 13:2 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.” In KJV it says, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted ( FASTING IS INCORPORATED AS MINISTERING TO THE LORD

Acts 14:23 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.