This article was originally published in Edition (3) of Prayer Magazine, Summer 2005.

A Lifestyle of Prayer – by Rod Anderson

The Christian faith is really quite simple. In fact, you need help to misunderstand it. He that comes to God must believe that He is! Yes, He is the rewarder of those that diligently seek Him, but that’s the second bit. First and foremost, we must simply believe that He IS. I mean, that should change a life right there.

If God is, then something in my finite mind says it would be wise to listen to His counsel. If God is the creator, and everything in its intricate design and demonstration, says that it couldn’t have happened any other way, then I should listen to Him.

Listening to Him then equates to learning to come near where He is; that’s called prayer.

Being asked to teach on prayer so often, is to a degree somewhat strange when you think about it, as teaching believers to pray should be somewhat similar to teaching fish to swim. It should be natural to their environment.

Nevertheless, throughout history, men have needed pushing and prompting. I love a statement that Adam Clarke made a few centuries ago about prayer. This was his thought:

‘A proper outpouring of prayer is a pouring out of the soul unto God, as a free-will offering.

Prayer is the language of dependence; he who prays, is endeavouring to live independently of God : this was the first curse, and continues to be the curse of mankind. Man will, if possible, live independently of God; hence he either prays not at all, or uses the language of prayer without the spirit of prayer.’

The language of dependence. Think about it. To not pray is to declare our independence from God and any need for His help and wisdom. Not a sharp thing to do.

No, our God’s desire is to be intimately involved in every decision we make, and He longs to be our partner in every moment of our labour. It shocked me when I realised that ‘prayerlessness’ then equated into a ‘declaration of independence’ from God! Again, this is not wisdom.

When you consider great men and women in scripture, you find that greatness could be defined by the fact that they were great listeners. They heard God. They got their instructions. They knew the way to move. They knew what words to speak. All because they’d been with the Master, and received His counsel.

Again, history is full of magnificent quotes from those who moved entire nations with this understanding. Here are just two:

“It seems God is limited by our prayer life – that He can do nothing for humanity unless someone asks Him” – John Wesley

“When God has something very great to accomplish for His church, it is His will that there should precede it, the extraordinary prayers of His people, and it is revealed when God is about to accomplish great to accomplish for His church, He will begin by remarkably pouring out His Spirit of grace and supplication.” – Jonathan Edwards

In the midst of this longing in the hearts of man to reach out to their God, the principle of fasting comes exploding in. Sometimes the heart and mind are so clouded by the extreme surrounding evidence of our battles, or the immediate testimony of our own weakness and failures, that the human heart is moved further than just words. Before any teaching of fasting ever appears in scripture, the evidence of spiritual hunger bears evidence that men and women learned to quiet their souls through fasting.

Job, which chronologically is considered the oldest writings of scripture, says I esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food (Job23v12). The truth of fasting is completely tied to spiritual hunger, which far surpasses physical hunger. Whenever spiritual hunger has overcome a people, there has been fasting saints.

That’s why it’s somewhat difficult to teach on fasting as well. For to do so, is to try and teach someone to be hungry. How does one do that? How do you teach someone to be hungry? People are either hungry or they’re not. One thing that produces hunger is a passion to see hurting people helped. It takes no time at all to realise that in our own strengths, we can do very little. We need supernatural help from above. We need wisdom beyond our own mental cogitations. We need God!

If I’ve discovered anything, it is this, that hunger attracts God. When I get truly serious with God, He gets serious with me. When I demonstrate my desire through the sacrifice of fasting, He knows I mean business. Yes indeed, even in the area of fasting, there are those who enter into it mechanically, but God tells us clearly, He recognizes that, and no reward or spiritual breakthrough follows a ‘religious’ fast, only the possible outward reward of the notice of men.

But there is the real fast, that causes God to stand up and take great notice. Where the cry of the heart goes so deep and loud that the need for food just carries no weight any longer. Where our desire to see a nation changed and a generation brought back from the brink weighs more heavily upon us than our natural desires. When this strikes the heart of man historically, fasting is a natural by-product. It’s always been the case.

Does fasting move God? I don’t think I’d actually say that, as I believe God already moved in sending Christ Jesus. But it IS a sacrifice, and scripturally speaking, wherever there is a sacrifice, there is a release of spiritual power. Careful study of scripture shows interesting truths regarding this. Almost without exception, the manifestation of God’s power throughout the old testament for example, will happen ‘about the time of the evening sacrifice,’ or scripture will give a time of day, which when studied, will be found to be the time of prescribed sacrifice before God.

Where there is sacrifice, there is a release of spiritual power. Demon worshippers know this today. Think about the supreme sacrifice that Jesus Christ made by offering up His own body, as the penalty for sin. When that Sacrifice was made at Calvary, so much power was released that the earth quaked, the rocks split open, the graves were opened and dead men walked again!

Beyond that, the power of that sacrifice is still in the air above us right now, to the point that whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved! Think about it! Some two thousand years later, the power released from His sacrifice is still permeating the earth and in the very atmosphere above our heads, and makes eternal salvation available to whosoever will call upon it. That’s incredible to me. It’s in the air all around us right now. Such power, such love, such sacrifice.

Fasting is a mode of sacrifice, there is undoubtedly spiritual power released when we demonstrate to God our desire to hear His counsel on a matter. In my own life, I’ve witnessed the healing power come to people after fasting, that didn’t happen otherwise. I’ve watched relationships come back to marriages through fasting where nothing else seems to work. I can’t confess to understanding any of it fully, but the breakthroughs have been there.

To be sure, what absolutely does happen through fasting, as much as anything else, is that the flesh is backed off, and the voice of God can be heard more clearly. Over the years, I’ve found that to be personally the most rewarding grace of fasting, as I’ve known what direction to take, and what not to do.

Spiritual power is released, without a doubt. What would happen, if massive gatherings of people began to understand this principle; and come together in the name of our God, to declare our consecration and desire to see a cultural change? Throughout, God’s word is seen, where a people dedicated to Him entirely, were able to shake a nation, and turn a nation! We have to ask ourselves a question; is God the same yesterday, today, and forever? Then His responses will be the same today as well!

We believe today can be such a day, where collective individual dedications of God’s people gather in masse in a declaration to God that as for us, we WILL live for God! Where we can offer a demonstration of old fashioned FAITH, and shout to God that we believe He CAN turn a nation in a day. “Oh God, please grant us a spirit of faith in this nation, and banish the unbelief from our church and people’ is our prayer. A generation CAN be changed, if we’ll change. If we dare come together in a spirit of unity, for the sake of His Kingdom, He will, perchance, be pleased, and pour out His Spirit in an incredible fashion on our nation. We need a radical change. The upcoming generation needs to see elders and pastors who are willing to lay down their agendas and come together for the common purposes of the Living God. Those who can agree on the cross of Christ, more than disagree over petty doctrinal issues. The young men and women long for that. They want reality, not tokenism. They want God more than even church.

We need people with fire in their bellies today. Let me leave you with a few of my favourite quotes:

‘I would rather train twenty men to pray, than a thousand to preach; - A minister’s highest mission ought to be to teach his people to pray.’ – H MacGregor

‘I believe there is one thing for which God is very angry with our land, and for which His Holy Spirit is so little among us, and that is the neglect of united prayer; the appointed means of bringing down the Holy Spirit.’ – Bronlow North

‘Love is kindled in a flame, and ardency is its life. Flame is the air which true Christian experience breathes. It feeds on fire; it can withstand anything rather than a feeble flame; but when the surrounding atmosphere is frigid or lukewarm, it dies, chilled and starved to its vitals. True prayer MUST be aflame.’ – E M Bounds

‘I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.’ – J H Jowett

‘True prayer will achieve just as much as it costs us.’- Samuel M Zwemer

‘All great soul-winners have been men of much and mighty prayer, and all great revivals have been preceded and carried out by persevering, prevailing knee-work in the closet.’ – Samuel Logan Brengle

In the words of Smith Wigglesworth, “Hell begins to tremble, when God’s people begin to fast.” Let us get to work, and see what the Lord will do.

Rod Anderson

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