Summary: How prayer with fasting INCREASES INSIGHT and REDUCES STRESS.
During the minister’s prayer one Sunday, there was a loud whistle from one of the back row seats. Little Gary’s mother was horrified. She pinched him into silence and, after church, asked, "Gary, whatever made you do such a thing?"
Gary answered soberly, "I asked God to teach me to whistle, and He just then did!"
You have to admit the boy believed in prayer!
But I wonder sometimes if we believe in it as much as we say we do.
Today’s message is "Taking a Stand on Your Knees." The Incredible Power of Prayer and Fasting!" We’re in the series on the book of Esther, "Divine Destiny, How God is at Work in My Life," and today we’re going to see that Esther not only believed in prayer - she believed in prayer WITH FASTING.
God is indeed at work in my life, as we’ve been observing throughout Esther’s story, but His work is intensified and magnified when I pray AND FAST! Prayer with fasting is one of the most powerful but perhaps one of the least used spiritual success tools in the life of the average Christ follower.
Fasting is going without food voluntarily in order to give your self more attentively to God and to prayer. You can fast by skipping one meal and spending that time in prayer, or you can fast for an entire day, or, in some serious cases of need, several days. This is what Esther decided in response to Haman¡¦s plot to have all the Jews in the Persian Empire murdered. When she found out about the plot from her adoptive father Mordecai, he challenged her to speak to the king on behalf of her people.
15 Then Esther sent this answer to Mordecai: 16 "Go and get all the Jewish people in Susa together. For my sake, fast; do not eat or drink for three days, night and day. I and my servant girls will also fast. Then I will go to the king, even though it is against the law, and if I die, I die." 17 So Mordecai went away and did everything Esther had told him to do. Esther 4:15-17
Esther asks her fellow Jews to specifically go to God for her in prayer and fasting since she has decided to accept Mordecai¡¦s counsel to go before King Xerxes uninvited. She asks them to go beyond the ordinary types of fasting. She asked them to abstain from food AND DRINK. Normal fasting is just abstaining from food. She also requested 3 days. A normal fast for a Jew would have been from sundown one day until sundown the next. She was calling for an extraordinary fast for an especially difficult case.
Remember; the Persian king was an authoritarian ruler. If you came before him without an invitation and he didn’t hold out his royal scepter to you then you would automatically be executed. Esther decided to risk her life to plead for the lives of all her fellow Jews in Persia. But first she wanted a three-day-period of fasting and prayer to ensue.
What is it about fasting with prayer that the ancient Jews knew, and Christ followers today know, is so powerful? Why did Esther consider this the best possible preparation before taking a great step of faith?
Since the Super Bowl is next Sunday I remind you of a light-hearted story the Associated Press carried about Billy Graham several years ago. The Dallas Cowboys, honoring the distinguished life and ministry of Dr. Graham, presented him with a Cowboy jersey with the name "Graham" on the back and the number "#1" in large print on the front and back.