IX. A FEW THINGS TO TAKE HEED OF
Finally, let us look at a few things that we must heed in the matter of fasting and prayer. First, if a burden truly presses you to such an extent that you cannot help but fast, then remember this: never fast without praying. You must fast and pray. Try your best to turn your fasting time, your fasting attitude, and your burden in fasting into prayer. All the experienced ones know that this kind of fasting in prayer is altogether outside any kind of form. It does not require thinking or memorizing, but issues entirely from within. Fasting without prayer is a great loss. Your body will suffer harm, your mind will be damaged, and even your spirit will suffer loss. Furthermore, without prayer, it is also hard for your burden to be carried out. Therefore, whenever you have a heavy burden that presses you to the extent that you cannot help but fast, you must do your best to pray. Such prayer will become food to your spirit. It affords you a considerable amount of mental comfort and will supply strength to your body. Fasting without prayer consumes you, but fasting with prayer supplies you.
Next, while you fast in prayer, always beware of having too many things as your burden. Do not pray for things apart from your burden. You do well just to pray specifically for that one matter. Why are you so heavy laden? Why can you not eat? Why are you not hungry? You should pray specifically for that one matter. It may be for the gospel; it may be for the church, or it may be for someone’s soul to be saved. Our mistake is that while fasting, we still have our mind on many other things. If you come to the Lord with so many things to pray for, then you should not fast, because you have not reached the point where you can neither eat nor drink but can only pray before God.
Real fasting in prayer is this: because a person loves God, lives before God, and touches God’s heart, the Spirit of God will heavily burden him with one thing that God desires to do. He will become burdened to such an extent that he can neither eat nor drink. Then he will spontaneously fast and go before God to pray. Consequently, such prayer will accomplish God’s purpose, drive out the Devil, and usher in God’s authority.
Lastly, you need to take heed that when you really have the burden to fast, you do not overdo it. Learn to be balanced before God. Never think this way: “Did not the Lord Jesus fast for forty days? Did not Moses also spend forty days on the mountain? So it does not matter if I fast for eight or ten days.” Over twenty years ago I saw a sister who fasted too much. As a result, her body became extremely weak and her mind became very weary. Satan thus took the opportunity to attack her. No one was able to help her. Eventually she fasted unto death. Therefore, on one hand, we should not fast lightly, but on the other hand, we should not overdo it. Rather, we should stop at a certain point and thus be balanced.
Finally, I hope that among us, at every place and every moment, there are some who are praying with fasting. During the course of our service to the Lord, we should always come to a point where we are unable to get through some matters, and at that time we must fast and pray to deal with them.
(Lessons on Prayer, Chapter 19, by Witness Lee)