I have prayed for a long time for family members to know the Lord. Should we resort to fasting when we have an unanswered prayer?

Hello! Thank you for this awesome question! Let me start by saying that I’m not always that good at fasting. I enjoy tasty food so this spiritual discipline can be a stumbling block for me as I have been known to embody the term ‘hangry’ from time to time. That being said, fasting through hunger is definitely spiritually rewarding.

Now, as far as your question goes, the Bible does seem to indicate that when you’re struggling with something, or when you want to kick your prayer life into overdrive, it’s never a bad thing to add fasting into the equation. Toward the end of Mark 9, we see Jesus cast out a demon that his disciples had been unable to cast out. When they asked him why they weren’t able to cast it out, he told them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting,” (Mark 9:29, NKJV).

This isn’t the only verse which leads us to believe that fasting is a way of stepping up your game when you’re praying and not getting an answer. In the book of Esther we see Esther asking that all of the Jewish people fast in the lead-up to her taking bold action (Esther 4:16). However, maybe the best verse to look to when looking at verses about fasting is Isaiah 58:6.

Isn’t this the fast I choose: To break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off every yoke? (CSB)

We can clearly see that the Father intends fasting to accomplish big things; so if you’re praying and not seeing results, you can do worse things than combining your prayers with a fast. That being said, we need to be careful that we don’t beat ourselves up if we don’t see the results we’re looking for. The Father works in ways which are not our ways, and things happen in his perfect timing. If we’re not seeing the answer we want, it’s entirely possible that the reason is because his plans for the situation are bigger than our plans. So we pray and fast with the expectation that our prayers will be answered, but we let God work in his timeline.

I know that this is an big question and I can only hope that I’ve been able to help in some way!

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About the Seeking Scripture Team: We are a group of believers from all walks of the faith, saved by grace alone through faith in our Messiah. While we are of one accord in many things, we are all works in progress and lifelong learners. Therefore the opinions of one may not always represent the opinions of all.

Aaron Baker
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