Every follower of Christ who seeks God with prayer and fasting can experience sudden and surprising open doors of spiritual opportunity, even if those open doors were never apparent before. It has happened in Scripture and it has happened to me. I am certain it will happen for many others as well.
A Biblical Pattern for Prayer and Fasting
A prayer summit, involving a handful of key leaders, opened unexpected doors as the leaders were worshipping, fasting and praying. Paul and Barnabas, and three other gifted and significant leaders, had been in the midst of a genuine city-wide spiritual awakening in Antioch for well over a year. Hungry to know the steps they were to take next, they pulled away from the day to day ministry to hear from God.
The Holy Spirit spoke to them clearly and gave them a vision and a direction they had apparently never considered before. At least 10-15 years had passed since the Resurrection had occurred, and since the Great Commission had been issued, but no one had made any substantial efforts to reach the Gentile world yet. While the devoted team fasted and prayed, however, a new door suddenly opened. The Spirit clearly directed them to spread the gospel to Gentiles
That unexpected open door led to what we commonly call Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-4). The world was permanently changed out of that prayer and fasting in that meeting when a new door.
1. My own open doors from prayer and fasting
Open doors always swing wide to reveal God’s continuing plan to save more people. It happens when we fast and pray. Recently it happened to me as I was participating in a city-wide call to 40 Days of fasting and prayer. While the open door I experienced obviously cannot compare to Paul’s call to world evangelism and missions, it was, nevertheless, an exhilarating and eye opening opportunity for ministry I never saw coming. The more I considered what God was doing in my life, the more my mind raced with faith, fresh ideas, and vision for our church and our city. There is no doubt in my mind this door burst open because several of us were fasting and praying. As this new door of ministry was unexpectedly opening before me I felt, and described it to others, as if I had stepped through a previously unnoticed door, into the blessing of God.
That’s the way God works. We fast and pray, committing our time and disciplining our bodies, and God blesses us with amazing opportunities for His work which we find to be richly and unpredictably satisfying. When you are in the center of His activity, it seems to be the nearest thing to heaven you ever find on earth.
2. God opens doors for you with prayer and fasting
How can you experience the blessing of open doors? God is sovereign and frequently resists our simple and sometimes self-serving formulas—especially if they are an attempt to manipulate how or when He will act. However, since His character never changes, it is possible to glean from Scripture what God expects of us when we desire to walk through open doors of unexpected blessing.
Here are three principles to remember.
1. The Holy Spirit can speak to us individually—and He does—but in the New Testament it is far more common to witness a fresh burst of God’s unfolding plan when God’s people were fasting and praying together. So, as you fast and pray, join with other like minded and devoted believers and fast and pray as a group. It’s amazing what God does when we unite.
2. Rick Warren said it best—“it’s not about you!” The unexpected open doors that ultimately bring you the most satisfaction are those which bring the most glory to God. That’s what you want isn’t it? Aren’t you tired of the false promises of a “me centered” faith? Expect and “pray into” the open doors which further the gospel of Jesus and accelerate His mission through you. You will experience far more of God’s best when you focus on His agenda.
3. Always take action—no matter how small the step may be—in the direction God is leading. Paul’s first trip was not really that far from his ancestral home in Tarsus. But that first trip expanded his capacity for more. When the door opens—go through it. Leave the extent of the blessing to Jesus. Just be obedient in the small steps and He will likely broaden your path in the future.
When we fast and pray we put more spiritual “octane” on our service and ministry to the Lord. Fasting and prayer boosts the intensity of everything we do for Jesus. In addition, fasting and prayer helps us recognize the open doors God places before us. Why wouldn’t we want all of this?
If you have rarely or never fasted before, seek some practical guidance, start from where you are, then pray and believe. Ask God to use you as never before as the doors begin to open!
This article on prayer and fasting originally appeared here.