Did you know that the Bible links three powerful spiritual disciplines together? These disciplines can be some of the most private disciplines, and therefore are often overlooked. When done together, they can be a catalyst for freedom. Let’s dive into the Bible and what it says about praying, fasting, and giving.
The public impact of praying, fasting, and giving.
When we deny ourselves a pleasure in this world, like food, exchanging it for the nourishment of God’s presence, a transfer of power takes place. We are no longer held by the power of earthly items; instead we must learn to rely on God for nourishment. In that way, we experience freedom from our earthly idols.
This personal spiritual freedom naturally redirects our hearts and eyes toward the priorities of God around us. We become more mindful of the hurting. Our faith is bold, fear of doing with less is diminished. We transfer our trust from our resources to God’s provision. As a result, we are often driven to share with others and pray more boldly. The life-transforming light of the gospel goes forth as we pray, fast, and give.
“Isn’t this the fast I choose: To break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to ignore your own flesh and blood? Then your light will appear like the dawn, and your recovery will come quickly. Your righteousness will go before you, and the Lord ’s glory will be your rear guard.” – Isaiah 58:6-8 (emphasis mine)
Fast, pray, and give as a generous way of sharing the hope of the gospel.
Privacy shouldn’t hold generosity back.
Oftentimes, there is a silence around the spiritual discipline of generosity that is equated with privacy. This silence can actually lead to a lack of giving activity instead of an increase. What we do not celebrate we do not do.
The point of this is to not be boastful about our giving. There are actually many powerful stories of public generosity being done in humble ways in the Bible. For instance, we know that Zacchaeus gave half his possessions, Barnabas donated a piece of property, and Boaz went far beyond the requirements in his generosity toward Ruth.
“But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” – Matthew 6:3-4
Be generous, but not boastful. Look to give both publicly and privately. Invite others to join you. Share the personal blessing of being generous. Fasting teaches us to trust in God, not in financial security. Set aside a day to fast and give soon.
Sometimes prayer needs to be loud. Darkness is not playing any games. It is an unscrupulous opponent. Praying needs moments of loud, unorthodox, and aggressive posturing.
When we fast and give, we are engaging in spiritual disciplines God has called us to. Intensive praying during seasons of fasting will be both raw and intimate, biblical and aggressively advancing the purposes of God.
“But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” – Matthew 6:6
Find a place to pray like you might not pray in public. Blast worship music if necessary to drown out the noise. Praying, fasting, and giving is spiritually powerful to the breaking down of many strongholds. I guarantee you the enemy is doing everything he can in his power to not be polite with evil attacks. Pray impolite prayers.
Fasting might be the least done spiritual activity. We eat three meals and snack multiple times every day. It is easy to eat because our bodies crave it and everyone else is doing it at the same times.
This is why I am so appreciative when church leaders hold a season of fasting for their congregations. Scheduling this activity is personally helpful. Then, when it is supported by the community and biblical resources, fasting yields an abundance of fruit.
“But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting isn’t obvious to others but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” – Matthew 6:17-18
Denying myself of earthly influences has been the most spiritually invigorating activity. Each year that goes by I strive to grow in this discipline. Some years I commit to fasting at least once a week and other times the rhythm has been monthly. When I fast, prayer becomes essential and generosity comes more naturally.
The praying, fasting, and giving link is a well-kept secret. When they are done in tandem, the light of the gospel shines even brighter.