Prayer and Fasting
Daniel 10:1-14 “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision. 2 In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. 3 I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. 4 And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; 5 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: 6 His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. 7 And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. 8 Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. 9 Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. 10 And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. 11 And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. 12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.”
The answer was there from the first day, but because of spiritual interference, prayer and fasting was needed in order for the answer to come through.
What is locked up because of a lack of prayer and fasting?
Prayer and fasting is unnatural. Physical actions in the natural release things in the spiritual or supernatural. You do things in the natural to release things in the supernatural. What you do physically affects things spiritually. ‘Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven…’
There is a connection between the spiritual realm and the natural realm.
Abraham is an example of this. He was called a man of faith, but God called him a prophet. David, we think of as a king, but Jesus called him a prophet. Abraham heard from God and spoke His words for our understanding today.
What did he do and say that was prophetic?
He heard that he was to sacrifice his ‘only begotten son.’ This child was a miracle born in Sarah’s old age. Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90. God told Abraham to take this child and offer him as a sacrifice to God.
Abraham had to remove his feelings and emotions in order to burn him and offer him to God. (His mother probably couldn’t do that.) Abraham didn’t know how God would raise up this kid after he was burnt, but he thought God would. Abraham obeyed. It took him three days to get there. Isaac asked his father where the sacrifice was. Abraham’s response was God would provide Himself a sacrifice. Abraham tied up his son and put him on the altar. The Lord stopped him from completing the sacrifice. Because of Abraham’s faith and obedience, something was released. Provision was provided in Isaac’s place.
As long as Samson obeyed the vows, he had supernatural strength. If Samson stayed away from grape juice, didn’t cut his hair, and didn’t touch dead bodies.
There are many stories in the Old Testament where we can see that physical actions release favor from God.
God delivered the Israelites from Egypt in a supernatural way. The Israelites went into the wilderness and the people started to complain. An enemy came to attack. This was a slave-minded people, never in battle. Now, they have to fight. Moses had to tell Joshua, ‘You’re going to fight while I go on top of a hill and raise my arms.’ As long as Moses had his arms up, the Israelites prevailed against the enemy. After a while, Moses needed help. His arms got tired. So, he got help from Aaron and Hur to hold up his arms. The physical act of lifting his arms gave spiritual power to the people.
Some things you do physically unlock spiritual power and strength. Understanding this principle can help you understand the power of prayer and fasting.
Joshua was in command after Moses died and an angel appeared. Joshua knew how to release the power of God. The plan given to Joshua was to walk quietly around the city and then go home. There is no logic in this. In fact, it’s kind of crazy. They did this for six days. On day seven, they walked all the way around the city, still no talking, walked seven times. Then, they were to shout. They obeyed. They shouted and the walls fell down. Obedience caused the walls to fall down.
The people in the city of Jericho were already fearful. When the walls fell, the Jews won a great victory.
God’s plan is when you do something in obedience physically, He releases power spiritually.
There are two things that keep you from releasing God’s favor. You want the results, but you don’t want to obey. You want money without working. You want healing without being sick. You want copper without digging for it. Lazarus was alive in the tomb, but somebody needed to roll away the stone.
You want things from God, but you have to learn how to praise Him and how to obey Him. His yoke is easy, His burden is light.
It doesn’t have to make sense. The promises of God are yes and ‘so be it.’ When you hear the promise come to you, you will agree with it and you say, ‘So be it.’
Mary, the mother of Jesus, vocalized agreement when the angel spoke about her bearing this miracle child.
What is the greatest physical act that released the greatest spiritual blessing? The cross.
There is a principle that if you will obey, God will release something in the spiritual.
- You do the physical, He does the Spiritual.
- Controlling your desires makes you desirable. If you keep your desires and your appetites under control, God sees that, and favor is released on your life.
You are alive, but dead to certain things. ‘Present yourself dead to certain things, but alive to God.’ It is Jesus living in you that causes you to be alive to something things and dead to others. God wants to flow to and through that vessel.
Daniel 10:11a “And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved…”
Angels are powerful beings, God’s messengers of fire. Satan is not the only fire-breathing dragon. To worship angels is foolish. It’s equally ignorant to ignore them. The reason angels have interference is because one of those angels disobeyed God and fell. Angels can’t convert and be saved since they’ve fallen. The devil took 1/3 of the angels with him. So, there are 2/3 left. There are twice as many holy angels as demonic angels.
There is a lot of evil in this world today. This is just a reflection of the spiritual world.
Daniel was seeking God and praying and fasting. The angel was stopped on his way to Daniel. Just as Daniel was praying, others were doing evil things to block the blessing.
The only way to remove the ‘blessing-blocker’ is by prayer and fasting. The fight took three weeks. Had Daniel stopped praying and fasting, the word wouldn’t have gotten through.
If you could see what your prayers and fasting do, you’d do it more.
Daniel 10:3 “I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”
He said, ‘I didn’t eat what I wanted to eat.’ He denied himself and controlled his desires and earned God’s favor and blessing.
God’s love is without condition.
If you want God’s promises, you’ve got to do things God’s way. Controlling your desires gets you God’s favor. Daniel decided to push away certain foods. The principle is he saw things he wanted and desired and instead he pushed it away.
Daniel 10:11 “And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved…”
‘Beloved’ means ‘desired.’ Daniel was greatly desired because he pushed away the things he desired.
Fasting unlocks the power and favor of God.
Controlling your passions and desires unlocks the power and blessing of God.
Psalm 35:13 “But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.”
Mat 17:21 “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”
While Jesus was showing His glory (to Peter, James, and John on the mountain), the devil was throwing a poor child into the fire (in the valley). The disciples couldn’t get the devil out. Finally, Jesus showed up and the devil left. The disciples wanted the bigger gun.
Jesus said, ‘You are a faithless and perverse generation.’ This isn’t exactly a compliment. If you’re faithless, your connection with God has been removed. Perverse is going astray, a wrong way. When you’re faithless, you’re not connected to God. When you’re perverse, you’re connected to the world.
When you are fasting, you are disconnecting from the things of the world. Praying reconnects you to God.
You need faith. You need connection with God. Control your desires and put them aside and see God move in your life. It doesn’t make sense, but do it anyway.
Refrain from desirable things and unlock the power of God.
The principle is when you fast desirables, you become more desirable to God.
Go 21 days without something desirable, maybe meat and chocolate. Push back the desirable thing.
More Questions for Personal or Group Study:
- Have you ever fasted before and how ‘successful’ was it? Did your circumstances change? Did you change? Did you receive an answer to prayer?
- How has this sermon made the principle of fasting more clear?
- Read Isaiah 58:1-11. How have the Israelites fasted wrongly? What good will happen when you obey the Lord in your fasting?
- How has this sermon challenged your thinking about fasting and how can you encourage someone else?
Excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Anthony LoCascio.
For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.