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Should the Church Fast and Pray?

“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”Joel 2:12 (NIV)

This past Sunday at my church, the message was on worship, and people were encouraged to text in questions at the end of the sermon for discussion. Here’s my question I texted in:

If worship is a lifestyle and the Bible encourages us to fast and pray, then why don’t we hear more about fasting in the American Church?

The answer I got didn’t satisfy. It was a “safe” answer and basically said that fasting was only something personal and not something that the church should talk about or do together. This disturbed me as I know some of the greatest churches in the country take fasting very seriously and have times of corporate prayer and fasting.

As a matter of fact, the last 2 churches listed as Outreach magazine’s “Fastest-growing Church in the U.S.” (Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, AL, and New Life in Conway, AR) both have annual times of fasting and prayer as a congregation.

I worked for a season with ARC (Association of Related Churches) and know how important prayer is to the foundation of a church planter. Prayer and fasting are drilled into the ARC church planters in their basic training, and ARC (by no coincidence) has some of the fastest-growing churches in the country – including the two I listed above.

Throughout Scripture, fasting plays a critical role in many God ordained events:

– Moses fasted for intimate fellowship with God (Exodus 34:28)
– David fasted for his sick child (2 Samuel 12:16)
– Ezra called a fast for humility and to ask for God’s provisions (Ezra 8:21-23)
– Daniel fasted to discern God’s will and seek God’s counsel (Daniel 10:2-3)
– Jesus fasted before beginning his public ministry (Matthew 4:2)
– Church leaders in Antioch fasted for God’s divine help (Acts 13:3)
– Paul fasted as a servant of God for those he served (2 Corinthians 6:5)

If you’re interested in fasting, some resources I use can be found HERE.

I believe the power of fasting as it relates to prayer is the spiritual atomic bomb that our Lord has given us to destroy the strongholds of evil and usher in a great revival and spiritual harvest around the world. —Bill Bright

So if you invited your church to text in questions and I texted in my question you see above, how would you respond? Should the church as a whole fast and pray? Does your church participate in any kid of annual fast? Do you personally fast? Is this, as one worship pastor friend of mine called it, a “lost art” in the Church?

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Greg Atkinson is an author, speaker, consultant, and the Founder of the First Impressions Conference and Worship Impressions—both specializing in guest services and hospitality.