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August 10, 2023 / by Dr. Jeff VanGoethem

I think we are all familiar with the “Action Film” genre. These films usually present certain big-screen heroes jumping into action to save the city, the world, the planet, the damsel in distress and whatever else.

Normally this involves fights on the tops of moving trains, 100 mph car chases through crowded cities, miraculous leaps off tall buildings or cliffs and other exciting, seemingly impossible exploits. It is all about taking action.

It is interesting however in Scripture that the real action in God’s Kingdom is often not a hero jumping into something, but a needy soul falling to his or her knees. Frequently we see in the Bible that heroic action did not come before prayer and fasting for God’s mighty deliverance. Our first action should often be to our knees, with fasting and fervent prayer.

Consider some examples:

  • When Nehemiah heard the sad word about the broken-down condition of Jerusalem, he did not jump immediately into action. First, he “continued praying and fasting” for many days, looking for God to move and open doors.
  • When Daniel believed it was time for the nation of Israel to be restored, he turned his face to the Lord “seeking Him by prayers and pleas for mercy with fasting.” (Dan. 9:3). He took no action until God acted.

We see this also in the call to corporate prayer and fasting in the Bible. Some more examples:

  • When foreign armies were threatening Judah, King Jehoshaphat “set his face to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” (2Chron. 20:3).
  • When Ezra began to lead the exiles on their perilous journey back to the land of Israel, he “proclaimed a fast” to seek God’s protection and guidance. (Ezra 8:21). Yes, he was willing and ready to act, but not before praying and fasting.
  • Similarly, when Queen Esther was apprised of the genocidal plot against her people, before taking her case to the king she asked that all the people be gathered to “hold a fast” on her behalf. (Esther 4:16)

I could go on. Are we missing something in today’s church? Think about the Lord Jesus – before beginning his public ministry, he devoted an intense season to prayer and fasting in the wilderness. We Americans are action-oriented people. We rise up and do stuff. That is a good thing. But we must recognize in the battle with spiritual darkness in the world, our actions will not amount to much unless the mighty hand of God is involved. As Jesus taught us, “without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Let’s be willing, along with our noble action, to fast and pray, and to call for seasons of fasting and praying, with the understanding that without God, many of our battles will be lost.

Fasting is a partner to fervent, dependent, desperate praying. In our personal lives, when faced with difficult and vexing problems, we pray with fasting. Corporately, as a church, as believers, as we face the spiritual and moral decline all around us, we should be praying and fasting for God’s deliverance and intervention. We need Him to take action, which is invoked by prayer and fasting. Then He will lead us into action for His glory.

Pastor Jeff VanGoethem has been in pastoral ministry for 40 years, including nearly twenty as Senior Pastor of East White Oak. He has returned to East White Oak after pastoring for some years in Dallas,Texas to serve as Associate Pastor of Spiritual Development and Missions. He is married to Karen. They have four daughters and four grandchildren.

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August OakLeaf Articles:

Joining Together for Revival by Pastor Scott Boerckel
Are We Forgetting Something? Prayer with Fasting by Dr. Jeff VanGoethem
Fasting: Power From Helplessness by April Kinzinger
Purpose-Filled Fasting by Pastor Traig Whittaker
Quotes About Fasting compiled by Rob Sizemore
5 Myths About Fasting by David Mathis