Prayer and Fasting: Spiritual Disciplines in Growing Movement

By Alex Murashko

An increasing number of Christ followers are recognizing that along with prayer, fasting plays an important part in their spiritual journey. Churches and ministries are also increasingly embracing the power of fasting as a potential movement of God by encouraging everyone to fast simultaneously.

“Prayer is mentioned in the Bible more than 500 times. Fasting is mentioned about 75 times, but fasting always goes with prayer,” J. Kie Bowman, who is retiring soon as senior pastor of Hyde Park Baptist/The Quarries Church, told Think Eternity. “Prayer and fasting are significant spiritual disciplines any believer can utilize in order to yield our lives more fully to God.”

Bowman, who said he plans to devote more time to the growing prayer movement upon retirement, has led his congregation in church-wide fasts for many years. He has seen an increase towards fasting among young believers nationwide. His church started a 21-day fast at the beginning of January.

“We’re doing 21 days of prayer and fasting, and our people don’t view it as a novelty or something odd,” he said. “They just expect it. I don’t really see fasting [in a larger perspective] tapering off. You’ve got these young leaders like Matt Brown, Malachi O’Brien, and others. It’s now become an acceptable part of spiritual disciplines for a younger generation, that we could not have imagined 30 years ago. 


PHOTO: Adrianna Geo / Unsplash

“Today, it’s a normal part of the Christian life in so many churches, and there will be so many churches doing 21 days of prayer and fasting in January. Thirty years ago, fasting movements were unheard of. Today, it is everywhere. So yeah, I think it’s in its Renaissance.”

One example of the growing youth movement towards prayer and fasting can be seen through Roaring Twenties Fast, now in its third year of leaders asking one million young people to join in fasting at the beginning of the year. Thousands of people are following the movement through social media sites such as Facebook (6.6 thousand followers on Roaring Twenties Fast group page).

The annual fast began in 2020 and is planned to continue throughout the “Roaring Twenties.”

Shane Idleman, pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in California states, “When God moves, prayer and fasting have often been the catalyst.” With economic uncertainty, political polarization, and fear abounding from coast to coast there has never been a greater need for God to move.”

The theme of the 2023 fast is Worthy of the Pursuit

Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” — Psalm 9:10 

Leaders from Roaring Twenties Fast state, “Fasting and prayer are the great invitations to know and love Jesus like never before. God invites us to seek Him, and He is worthy of the pursuit. When we seek God, we know He always does great things.”

Throughout 2023, digital ministers on every social media platform will be echoing the idea that Jesus Christ is worthy of the pursuit.  

“As we stand before a generation with an appetite for the presence of God, may we be mindful of this: fasting is what  prepares our spirit for the fresh filling from God that we need,” pastor and digital creator Jon Groves said.

In his practical guide, God’s Call to Fasting, Bowman starts with reference to three verses:

I humbled myself with fasting… — Psalm 69:10

‘Yet even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting….’ — Joel 2:12

Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting…. — Daniel 9:3

“In fasting we let go of our plans; in prayer we take hold of God’s plans. Prayer connects us to Heaven while fasting disconnects us from earth,” Bowman states in his guide.

He told Think Eternity that Christ followers need to be careful with spiritual disciplines to not try and do a “transactional analysis, like ‘I fasted and therefore this [or something] happened.’”

“I have found in my own personal life…fasting does not manipulate God. Prayer does not manipulate God. God is not in the transactional business, like if you fast so much He’ll bless you so much.”

He adds, “At the same time, God never blesses disobedience and He always blesses obedience. I’ve been fasting on a weekly basis, one day a week at a minimum for almost 30 years. I found that on those days, I am far more in tune with God’s Spirit. My prayer life is more impacted. My Bible study has more impacted my preparation time, and my organizational life.”

Alex Murashko leads the Thinke Writing Team. Media on Mission is where he likes to highlight Christ followers within the media industry. Find Murashko on various social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram.

This content was originally published here.

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