Prayer and Fasting

THE WESLEYAN PATTERN OF PRAYER AND FASTING
Rev. Dr. Ken A. Ramsey

Disciples of Jesus Christ in the Methodist and Wesleyan movement have long engaged in the practice of prayer and fasting.  At the beginning of this century the World Methodist Evangelism team urged all persons to engage in prayer and fasting for their churches and communities, praying that persons would come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

FASTING:
Fasting is a significant part of the Christian experience and can bring new power to our Christian walk. Jesus practiced and taught fasting as part of being more fully connected to the Living God (Matthew 4:11; Mark 1: 12-13; Luke 4: 1-4; Matthew 6: 16-18).  John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement wrote: “When you seek God with fasting added to prayer, you cannot seek His face in vain. I advise you to keep a day of fasting and prayer.”

Wesley’s own pattern of fasting was after the evening meal Thursday until mid afternoon on Friday. This may be too long for many so consider many different ways of weekly or daily fasting.

  1. Choose a specific meal each week to skip and devote extra time to prayer.
  2. Choose a daily meal to eat sparingly and make that your prayer focus time.
  3. Modify what you eat or how you eat, as a reminder and call to prayer.
  4. Choose a weekly time to completely “steal away to Jesus” and block it off for an extended time of fervent prayer and spiritual focus.
  5. If your church is open during the week, go there at some point and “prayer walk” through rooms of the church.

WAYS TO OBSERVE TIMES OF PRAYER AND FASTING

  1. Read and pray the Psalms: They were the prayer book of God’s people and of Jesus.
  2. Read and then mediate upon The Lord’s Prayer, allowing the phrases to speak to you.
  3. Read and pray the Prayer of Jesus in John 17.
  4. Utilize regularly a daily devotional guide such as The Upper Room or Daily Bread (both available online)
  5. Focus your prayers for specific weeks: (for example)
    Week 1: Pray for the leaders and pastors of your church.
    Week 2: Pray for all churches in your area for new power to be revealed.
    Week 3: Pray for your neighborhood and all who live near you.
    Week 4: Pray for those in your family that need a walk with Christ in their lives.
    Week 5: Pray for those who have not yet discovered the joy of knowing Christ.
    Week 6 : Pray for those who are disillusioned in life by events or experiences.
    Week 7:  Pray for your community and city and God’s presence and power there.
  6. Use prayer guides and tools such as “Pray Your Way Forward”; The FRAN plan; or other tools. There are many available online.
  7. Worship as often as possible and surround the services with your prayers so that the Word of God will go forth with fruit and with power.