21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

21 Days of Prayer & Fasting January 3, 2024


21 Days of Prayer & Fasting – Photo Credit: Brave Church

Many churches promote 21 days of prayer & fasting for the new year.  In my previous article, I shared the long-held Christian tradition of the watch-night service. Held on New Year’s Eve, these special services allowed parishioners to pray in the new year. However, once we have crossed the threshold of January 1, a lot of people look for ways to make the new year better than the year they are leaving behind. Here are a few:

“Making a Fresh Start in Life” 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting Photo Credit: Morning Coach

“Pastors offer 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting for a fresh start in their spiritual lives”

This article’s focus is on strengthening your life through 21 days of prayer & fasting. Pastors are concerned for the spiritual welfare of their congregants. For that reason, pastors offer members a means to a fresh start by emphasizing prayer. While I enjoy my personal prayer time, I have a love-hate relationship with the idea of a fast. I love to eat and I’ve never gotten the hang of self-denial. Then again, I think that’s 1 of the main reasons to fast. I also think that’s why most pastors combine the 2 together. Let’s look at both.

“Prayer” – Photo Credit: Church of the Rockies 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

“Men ought Always to Pray”

Prayer is the primary function of a Christian. It is every believer’s privilege to go directly to God in the name of Jesus to “…come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV). This privilege is referred to as the priesthood of all believers as mentioned in I Peter 2:9.The New Testament is filled with instructions about prayer, but we only need 1 – “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,” (Luke 18:1 NKJV).

“The Hows and Whys of Desperate Prayer” Intensity  Photo Credit: The Romantic Vineyard, 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Intensity in Prayer & Fasting

We are usually intense about things that we care deeply about. In the same way, there are degrees of intensity in prayer. In the early days of ministry, 1 of our church families had experienced a run of seasonal illnesses. When the youngest, a 5-year-old boy, exhibited the symptoms, he called his mother into his room and asked her to pray for him. She prayed a motherly prayer to comfort her sick son but the little guy wanted something more. He took his mother’s hand and said in a loud voice, “Mom! I need you to pray long, hard, and loud!”  While we all laughed, it was evident that even a 5-year-old boy realized the need for more-intense prayer.

21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Prayer & Fasting 

The original meaning of a fast is to do without all food for a designated period. While the Hebrew people of the Old Testament fasted often, the only fast commanded by God  was on the Day of Atonement. However, when Jesus gave himself up to be crucified, He became our atonement, thus ending the need of the fast. But because fasting isn’t a New Covenant requirement, it is still a beneficial practice. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. It helps us focus on God
  2. It helps us learn about self-denial and self-control
  3. It reminds us that we need humility
  4. It sharpens our sense of spiritual discernment
  5. It can help us better understand scripture
  6. It helps us identify new directions and beneficial changes we should make
  7. It provides health benefits

Fasting is Focus

Among the many benefits of fasting, the most obvious is focus. Setting aside food and filling that void with prayer, is like tightening the focus knobs on a microscope; what once was blurry becomes clear. When we remove distractions we focus on the important spiritual truths, such as:

  • Thoughts, feelings, opinions
  • Vision, understanding, timing
  • Faith, hope, and love
“Guide To Fasting and Prayer” Photo Credit: Val Marie Paper, 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Guide to 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

There is plenty of information about fasting on the Internet. I ran a Google search for “types of fasting,” and received over 10,000,000 hits in half a second. No one should start 21 days of prayer and fasting without some guidance. Your pastor, mentors and medical doctor can provide necessary guidance. Well-known pastor and television personality Jentezen Franklin has devoted an entire section of his website to information about fasting. He begins with this statement: “When you fast, you partner with God.”

“The Kingdom of God” – Photo Credit: Calvary Presbyterian Church. 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Fasting and The Kingdom of God

Finally, fasting is a tangible means of fulfilling Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” God’s kingdom is a society of people who trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Their currency is faith. They declare citizenship in Heaven. They pay allegiance is to King Jesus. Their bond is the Holy Spirit. When we pray in Jesus’ name, we touch heaven on behalf of the need. Whenever we earnestly pray and fast, we relinquish all other sources of help and await God’s answer.

“21 Days of Prayer & Fasting” Credit Image: Bruce Woolard

21 Days of Prayer and Fasting

Even though many churches emphasize 21 days of prayer and fasting, there is no set period that the Bible requires. Fasting does not make you more pleasing to God. People who fast might be more disciplined, but they are not more spiritual. No one should feel forced to fast. Still, fasting is a beneficial exercise of faith and if you use good judgment, and remain balanced, fasting will make a difference.

21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

The Fast God Desires

In closing, Isaiah 58 reveals the type of fast that pleases God: “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I” (Isaiah 58:6-8 NIV).


About ken Shelton
Ken Shelton is a writer, songwriter, and recording artist. His latest album, 'Legacy-Songs For My Family' is his eighth studio album and is available on all music streaming services. In addition, he is an ordained bishop with Evangel Association of Churches and Ministries, and with the Church of God (Cleveland, TN). Ken attended Lee University, Trinity Theological Seminary, and Destiny Christian University and holds a Doctor of Divinity Degree. In 2001, he founded Shelton Covenant Ministries, a church ministry committed to planting churches, and mentoring pastors and church leaders with emphasis on five-fold ministry. He is a frequent conference speaker, worship leader, and soloist. Bishop Shelton has written two books: Covenant Talk - Words That Set Us Free (Author House, 2005) and Discover Your Worship Learning Style (SCM, 2010). In 1974, Ken married the former Kitty Patterson, who since 1997 has been a public-school English and history teacher. They have three daughters and ten grandchildren and reside in Brighton, Michigan. You can read more about the author here.
"Maybe Christians should just learn to be content when people are no longer atheists.Homosapiens have ..."

What Matters Most?
"...so...are we saying that God explicitly commanded people to do something morally and ethically wrong?"

Why the Death Penalty is Wrong
"most so-called contemporary Christian worship music is nothing more than Christian entertainment, no real worship ..."

Creed the Band is Back! Are ..."
"While I have to agree that 'learning to love is the big lesson of life' ..."

Learning to Love is the Big ..."

Browse Our Archives