Four Actions to Maintain the Proper Prayer and Fasting Form
Leaving Ordinary Prayer & Fasting Behind – Part 4.2
Before we begin this lesson on prayer and fasting, let me remind you that this lesson is one that explores the concept and goes beyond what we normally know of it. We’re getting beyond the norms like fasting is not eating food or fasting is drinking water only. In order to go to the next level with prayer and fasting, we must do what doesn’t come naturally or normally and take a different set of steps beyond what we currently know and currently do.
There needs to be an unselfish “why?”
Allow me to begin by quoting Isaiah “‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I responded. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.”  When I took notice of these words, a question bubbled to the forefront of my thoughts. What does it look like for one to fast to please oneself? Because this is mentioned in the Bible is an indication that it represents what normally occurs. It’s normal for people to fast to gain attention for oneself. Let me say it another way, what’s common is fasting for selfish reasons. To go to the next level, implies that we must have an unselfish “why” to why we fast and pray.
What does it look like when we fast to please ourselves? The example Isaiah gives us is one of trying to impress others, desiring to be noticed, and continuing to have the same normal behaviors. Therefore we can conclude that when we fast we must not do it to try and impress others, or to be noticed, or to continue with our normal everyday behavior as we’ve always done. Here’s another question: What other normal behaviors have impeded our practice of fasting with prayer? I have identified four that I’d like to offer you. But before I do. Keep in mind that they are not the only ones, but are the big items to help put us on the journey of going to the next level when we fast and pray.
Proper Prayer and Fasting Form
When we perform exercise routines guided by professional trainers, the trainers speak a lot about form. Form is a specific way to perform the movements when exercising. Bad or poor form produces not just bad results, but unintended outcomes. The challenge of training church-people when it comes to spiritual exercises like prayer and fasting, they tend to believe they know what they’re doing already. It’s not often that a person admits I need or could use a trainer. A professional athlete is always looking for better training practices. Pray-ers (people who pray) are athletes too.  Actually I have a better way of saying this, I’d like to go to the next level. The people Isaiah was referencing thought they were doing it (fasting) with proper form as well.
What’s wrong with having a trainer, a mentor, or desiring to get the best results in spiritual exercises? In this lesson we discuss the proper form needed when performing the exercise of prayer and fasting. We need proper form so that we can avoid the unintended outcomes that not only can impact the one performing the exercises but those who watch us perform our exercises. As I mentioned, one’s exercise form is critical to provide the best results as well as to keep you safe during the exercise. In the same way, I’d like to offer four actions to take to maintain the proper form when fasting and praying.
- Don’t make it obvious that you are praying & fasting.
This one is big. There is no good reason to bring attention to oneself because you’re fasting. There’s no need to brag about this exercise. It should not be easy for another person to visually see or take notice that you have been praying & fasting. Therefore, dress like you would when not fasting and praying. Don’t change your attire to reveal that you’re participating in this spiritual discipline. In other words, look presentable. 
- Don’t project this spiritual exercise as mundane and undesirable.
Instead of appearing as if you’d rather not be fasting & praying , be excited about the exercise. If you don’t have a reason to be excited about it, then your form is off. If you don’t have a reason to look forward to the discipline, then your form is off. Most people who truly get into exercise become excited, not about the workouts but the results. You see, many people exercise physically to wear that swimsuit (so to speak). When you fast and pray, think about the results. In this spiritual exercise, you’re going after something far greater, than fitting into a pair of pants, therefore acting like it.
- Don’t miss out on the reward (outcome)  by drawing attention to your efforts.
If my outcome from prayer & fasting is tied to my form, then I want to have the best form, so to speak, that I can have. I would hate for you to miss out on the rewards of prayer and fasting because we fell for doing it in a common, using poor form, kind-of-way.
- Don’t deprive another without consent.
The very exercise of fasting and prayer means you give something up physically in support of your spiritual requests. In doing so, don’t allow what you give up to deprive someone of their physical needs.  Many times we will embark on our spiritual journey and unintentionally impact others who aren’t on the same journey, in a negative way. That my friend isn’t the purpose of fasting. Fasting with prayer should be done out of love and include love. Love doesn’t offend. It’s not rude. It’s not abrasive. We should not be in the habit of punishing others inadvertently because we’re fasting and praying. This is next level prayer. Let me say it my way. You don’t get to neglect your spouse or your children or your family just because you’re fasting and praying. You don’t get to have a bad attitude or take offense with others because they’re not fasting and you are. In fact (going further left), when you’re fasting and praying, you should display more of the love of Jesus. You should be a better servant. You should have the best temperament and attitude. This is next level prayer.
People who fast and people who pray are performing next level actions. Prayer + Fasting = Next Level Results. Prayer and fasting, in and of itself, is a next level action. If you’re participating in this exercise that means you’ve already taken next level steps. So why not get the most out of it by having the proper form? This message isn’t one about whether you get it right or wrong, it is about whether you get better at it or not.
Question: which of the four prayer and fasting forms can you improve upon?
 Isaiah 58:3-4 NLT, Bible.com, accessed May 18, 2023, https://www.bible.com/116/isa.58.3-4.nlt
 1 Corinthians 9:27 NLT, Bible.com, accessed May 18, 2023, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/1CO.9.27.NLT
 Matthew 6:16-18 NLT, Bible.com, accessed May 18, 2023, https://www.bible.com/116/mat.6.16-18.nlt
 Matthew 6:16-18 MSG, Bible.com, accessed May 18, 2023, https://www.bible.com/bible/97/MAT.6.16-18.msg
 1 Corinthians 7:5 ESV, Bible.com, accessed May 18, 2023, https://www.bible.com/59/1co.7.5.esv
All Scripture references used by permission, see our Scripture copyrights.