God the Almighty wants to respond to whatever His beloved children ask of Him. No matter how impossible our heart뭩 desire may seem to be, if we ask in the will that pleases God the Father, He will fulfill it. The keys to receiving the answers from God are in God-pleasing fasting and the prayer that God wants from us. Let뭩 look into them.
- The people of Nineveh received God뭩 answer through fasting and prayer
Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria which was a super power empire of its time. But the wickedness of its citizens had become so great that it came up before God. So, God told Jonah to go to the city and proclaim the will of God. Jonah was a prophet who worked in the northern kingdom of Israel around 785 BC. Assyria had cause serious trouble for his country, Israel, and he wanted it to fall. So, he didn뭪 obey the command of God and took a ship that was going to Tarshish instead, which is in the opposite direction from Nineveh!
God brought a great storm on the sea on the sea like a hurricane and it was so strong that the ship was about to break up. The people on the ship cast lots to determine who was responsible for the disaster and the lot fell on Jonah. He ended up being thrown into the sea. Surprisingly, the sea became calm. God prepared for a great fish to come and swallow Jonah.
Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights. He couldn뭪 eat anything and in repentance he cried out to God. Then, God commanded the fish and it spit Jonah out onto dry land. Finally, he went to Nineveh and cried out saying, 밳et forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.?Then, though they were Gentiles and regardless of whether they were adults or children, all people of Nineveh fasted and repented before God.
Hearing this, the king of Nineveh also laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, 밒n Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands?(Jonah 3:7-8).
They showed their hearts through fasting, set themselves apart from evil deeds, and cried out in fervent prayer. Then, God stopped the calamity that He would have brought upon the people in Nineveh. This shows us just how truly powerful fasting and prayer really can be. In a bid to receive a great answer from God, we should also repent before God, discipline our bodies to make it our slave, and then fast and cry out in prayer.
- God-pleasing fasting
The period of fasting is variable. It can be a meal, a day, two days, three days, five days, seven days, and more. Those who are not accustomed to fasting can start with single meal fasting or fasts lasting a period of one or two days- or as long as one is able to fast. It is important that if one plans to offer up long-period fasting, he or she should receive the Spirit뭩 urging in fullness of the Spirit concerning the proper time and period for the fasting.
Isaiah 58:6-7 reads, 밒s this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh??
Isaiah 58:4-5 says, 밄ehold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist. You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high. Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed and for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed? Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the LORD??
Fasting that is pleasing before God is not just 몊kipping meals? but it should be accompanied by earnest prayer and rendering of the heart. Some just sleep while fasting, saying they are lethargic. However, what God wants is our crying out in prayer. Even during fasting, we can cry out in prayer if we receive God뭩 grace and strength. Also, we should pray with love and shouldn뭪 amuse ourselves with entertainment or personal recreation during fasting (Isaiah 58:3).
If we offer up such fasting, God gives us the promise found in Isaiah 58:8-9 that says, 밒f you remove the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness. Then your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will speedily spring forth; and your righteousness will go before you; the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry, and He will say, 멖ere I am.뮅
- The kind of prayer God wants
Not only fasting but prayer also can bring down answers from God only when it is proper in the sight of God. The Bible tells us about many cases where people brought down the power of God and His answers through prayer. Then, what kind of prayer does God want to receive?
Firstly, we should pray habitually as in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 which reads, 밣ray without ceasing? Jesus also habitually prayed this way as written in Luke 22:39, and Peter and John also set aside time to pray as written in Acts 3:1.
If you clean your room every day, it doesn뭪 take you so long. But if you leave a mess to accumulate for a long time, it piles up and your room is stained with it. Then, cleaning takes you a very long time. Likewise, if you habitually pray every day, you will not be faced with trials and afflictions. Even if you met with them, they will be gone quickly and habitual prayer causes all things to work together for good. For those who start to pray after they met with afflictions, it takes long time to destroy those walls of sins against God.
Secondly, we should kneel down in prayer. When we kneel down, we can collect our thoughts, and it is also the expression of reverence before the listener. We may try to behave well before our parents or the President of our country. Then, would it not be natural for us to kneel down when we pray to God the Creator! Jesus, who is the Son of God, also knelt down in prayer (Luke 22:41). Deacon Stephen also prayed on his knees even while being stoned to death (Acts 7:60).
Thirdly, we should cry out in prayer (Jeremiah 29:12-13, 33:3). Acts chapter 4 describes the Early Church where great and powerful works were manifested and great revival occurred. By crying out in prayer in severe persecutions, the church members were filled with the Holy Spirit and many signs and wonders followed. When there was no water for the Israelites in the wilderness, Moses cried out to God. Then, the bitter water changed into sweet drinkable water (Exodus 15:22-25).
- Deeds of those who received answers from God
When Israel suffered severe drought without rain for three and a half years, Elijah brought down the answer of rain by praying on Mt. Carmel. He was so earnest in prayer that he bent down and put his face between his knees because he felt cramping and pain in his stomach like his intestines twisting.
Daniel repented of sins of the people of Israel with fasting, sackcloth and ashes even 70 years after he was taken as a captive to Babylon and though he was old. His prayer was answered. Gabriel the archangel brought God뭩 answer to him and also gave him insight with understanding and revealed a great and amazing thing. The archangel taught him about the Messiah who was to come and things that would happen at the end of the world.
Jesus also called out in prayer. In the night before he was captured, he prayed in the place called Gethsemane. His prayer is illustrated in Luke 22:44, 뱟and being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.?He prayed with His heart, mind, and dedication.
What we have to remember, we must not pray following our own lustful desire to receive answers to our prayer. We can ask God what we need according to our faith, position, and duty. But, if we ask with lust and greed, answers won뭪 come to us (James 4:2-3).
Also, we have to believe that we already have received what we asked God of with faith. Mark 11:24 reads, 뱟all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them뀛 We must ask in faith without any doubting (James 1:6-7). Therefore, I hope you will receive answers to whatever you pray for through God-pleasing fasting and the prayer that moves the heavenly throne.