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Inspired and Impacted by Others: Quotes About Fasting and Prayer

Inspired and Impacted by Others: Quotes About Fasting and Prayer

The following excerpts from Martin Lloyd-Jones, Andrew Bonar, Wesley Duewel, and Andrew Murray not only instruct us about fasting, they inspire us to combine our fasting with prayer! They motivate us to get into the prayer closet not just when we’re fasting, but all year long.

Nuggets of truth are tucked inside these brief quotes. Application questions beneath the excerpts help us extract important truths and apply them to our lives.


Martin Lloyd-Jones
(1899 – 1981)

What fasting really means… is abstinence from food for spiritual purposes.… The biblical notion of fasting is that, for certain spiritual reasons and purposes, men and women decide to abstain from food….

Fasting, if we conceive of it truly, must not…be confined to the question of food and drink; fasting should really be made to include abstinence from anything which is legitimate in and of itself for the sake of some special spiritual purpose. [1]

— From Studies in the Sermon on the Mount


Andrew Bonar 
(1810 – 1892)

Fasting is abstaining from anything that hinders prayer.

Oh brother, pray; in spite of Satan, pray; spend hours in prayer; rather neglect friends than not pray; rather fast, and lose breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper – and sleep too – than not pray. And we must not talk about prayer, we must pray inright earnest. The Lord is near. He comes softly while the virgins slumber. [2]

God will not let me get the blessing without asking. Today I am setting my face to fast and pray for enlightenment and refreshing. Until I can get up to the measure of at least two hours in pure prayer every day, I shall not be contented. Meditation and reading besides. [3]

The Prince of the power of the air seems to bend all the force of his attack against the spirit of prayer.

— From Diary and Letters

Application: Though he was an avid reader, Andrew Bonar fasted at times from his love for reading in order to find time to pray and commune with God.

Fasting is doing without food for a spiritual purpose. In the Bible, fasting refers to abstaining from food. However, in order to adequately focus on prayer while abstaining from food, we may find it helpful to abstain from television, movies, entertainment, radio, internet, sports … or even from reading books—from permissible, even profitable things—in order to dedicate time to prayer and reading the Bible.

As Bonar exhorts, it is better to lose sleep, neglect friends, and skip meals than to not pray. We must pray. In order to pray, we must forego the things that hinder it, even when they are perfectly acceptable activities.

Are you also abstaining from the things that have kept you from the prayer closet? Are you dedicating additional time to prayer during your fast? Like Bonar, would you rather neglect friends or food or sleep than neglect prayer? Do you talk about prayer more than you actually pray?


Wesley Duewel
(1916-2016)

The purpose of fasting is (1) to subject the physical to the spiritual and to give priority to spiritual goals; (2) to disentangle oneself for a time from one’s environment, material things, daily responsibilities, and cares; and (3) to devote one’s whole spiritual attention to God and prayer. We do not imply that daily duties and life’s necessities are unholy or unspiritual; rather, we subject permissible things, even profitable things, to greater spiritual priorities. [4]

Fasting is a letting go of your natural desires, refusing to be bound by the visible and tangible, and makes it easier to lay hold of heaven’s resources. It helps transcend the natural and helps keep your body your slave (1 Cor. 9: 27) when you are denying your physical nature. It perhaps opens your nature more fully to the Spirit’s touch. It is easier to hear the Spirit’s voice, as fasting helps shut out the world about you.

We do not manipulate or command the Spirit, but we become increasingly available to Him as we fast and pray. He is able to say new things to us, to have new access to us. I can never thank God enough for what He said at such a time. He can clothe us more fully and prepare us to be used more freely. It just seems to open us anew to the Spirit’s presence and power. Jesus returned “in the power of the Spirit” when He had won His forty-day battle of prayer and fasting (Luke 4: 14). [5]

From Mighty Prevailing Prayer

Application: As you abstain from food, are you disentangling yourself from your environment, from material things, and as much as possible, from life’s daily cares in order to pray? As you subject the physical to the spiritual, are you devoting your whole spiritual attention to God and prayer?

As fasting helps shut out the world around you, are you hearing the Spirit’s voice more easily? Is He saying new things to you as He has new access to you? Is He convicting you of sin and acts of disobedience, even small actions and attitudes, that grieve Him?


Andrew Murray
(1828-1917)

Faith needs prayer for its full growth. And prayer needs fasting for its full growth…. Prayer is the one hand with which we grasp the invisible; fasting, the other, with which we let loose and cast away the visible. In nothing is man more closely connected with the world of sense than in his need of food, and his enjoyment of it. It was the fruit, good for food, with which man was tempted and fell in Paradise. It was with bread to be made of stones that Jesus, when an hungered, was tempted in the wilderness, and in fasting that He triumphed. The body has been redeemed to be a temple of the Holy Spirit; it is in body as well as spirit, it is very specially, Scripture says, in eating and drinking, we are to glorify God. It is to be feared that there are many Christians to whom this eating to the glory of God has not yet become a spiritual reality. And the first thought suggested by Jesus’ words in regard to fasting and prayer, is, that it is only in a life of moderation and temperance and self-denial that there will be the heart or the strength to pray much. …

Prayer is the reaching out after God and the unseen; fasting, the letting go of all that is of the seen and temporal. While ordinary Christians imagine that all that is not positively forbidden and sinful is lawful to them, and seek to retain as much as possible of this world, with its property, its literature, its enjoyments, the truly consecrated soul is as the soldier who carries only what he needs for the warfare. Laying aside every weight, as well as the easily besetting sin, afraid of entangling himself with the affairs of this life, he seeks to lead a Nazarite life, as one specially set apart for the Lord and His service. Without such voluntary separation, even from what is lawful, no one will attain power in prayer: this kind goeth not out but by fasting and prayer. [6]

— From With Christ in the School of Prayer.

Application: As you let go of all that is seen and temporal by abstaining from food, are you reaching out for God and the unseen in prayer?

I’ve read this portion of Andrew Murray’s book before. But this time, a different statement struck me, and struck me to the core. “The truly consecrated soul is the soldier who carries only what he needs for the warfare.” So I asked myself what I’m asking you:

Are you seeking to retain as much as possible of this world with its pleasures and property?

You must carry only what you need for the warfare. You must let go of lawful activities or attractions that are hindering your prayer life. Only when you lay aside every weight, and carry only what is needed to win the battle, will you attain power in prayer.

This applies all year long too, not just in this season of fasting. Are you hanging on to so many trifles of this temporal world that you’re forfeiting power in prayer? 

The answer for me is, “Yes.” On this brief journey to my real home, my luggage is crammed so full of non-essential items that it won’t even zip closed! I’m sadly forfeiting much power in prayer.

What about you? What is keeping you from the prayer closet all year long? What non-essential items are you carrying? Are there sins, however ‘small,’ that entangle you?

“Let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles.”

Hebrews 12:1, NIV

Questions:

  • Are you also abstaining from the things that have kept you from the prayer closet? Are you disentangling yourself from your environment, from material things, and as much as possible, from life’s daily cares in order to pray? Are you dedicating additional time to prayer during your fast?
  • Like Andrew Bonar, would you rather neglect friends or food or sleep than neglect prayer? Do you talk about prayer more than you actually pray?   
  • Are you seeking to retain as much as possible of this world with its pleasures and property? Are you carrying only what you need for warfare?
  • Are you hanging on to so many trifles of this temporal world that you’re forfeiting power in prayer?  What is keeping you from the prayer closet all year long? What non-essential items are you carrying?
  • As fasting helps shut out the world around you, are you hearing the Spirit’s voice more easily? Is He saying new things to you as He has new access to you? Is He convicting you of sin and acts of disobedience, of even small actions and attitudes that grieve Him? 

 

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

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  1. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1976), 314
  2. Andrew A. Bonar, D.D., Diary and Letters (London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1893), 280
  3. Ibid., 92
  4. Wesley Duewel, Mighty Prevailing Prayer (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990), 182-183
  5. Ibid., 189-190
  6. Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer. Andrew Murray on Prayer (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1998), 373-374

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