The world is not a safe place. On the news every night, we see stories of kidnaping, murder, theft, and rape. In modern times, we need God’s protection like never before. Fasting is one way to ask God for protection.
After Ezra rebuilt the temple when the seventy year captivity of the Jews ended, Artaxerxes, the king of Babylon decided to honor God by giving Ezra tens of thousands of dollars worth of gold and silver to provide for the temple’s needs. Ezra faced a problem. In between Babylon and Jerusalem were many bandits and enemies who would be delighted to steal the gold. Ezra did not want to ask the king to provide soldiers for defense because he had explained to the king about how God protects His children.
So, Ezra decided to fast in order to ask God for protection during a journey. In his words, “There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer” (Ezra 8:21‑23). During the journey, God did protect them and they arrived in Jerusalem safely.
When I travel overseas, I often face unsafe conditions. I visit countries where Christians are hated, where theft is common, and where sickness is a constant threat. Before I go, I do my best to make sure I am spiritually prepared to face the challenges. Often I will spend time fasting, praying, and confessing Psalm 91 over my life. It is a great comfort to know God’s angels are watching over me.
Behind the scenes of everyday normal life, there is a huge spiritual battle being fought. As Paul said, “…our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). Our prayers can make the difference between spiritual victory and spiritual defeat.
Prayer and fasting on this earth has tremendous effect on the spiritual battlefield. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18). Martin Luther said, “None can believe how powerful prayer is, and what it is able to effect, but those who have learned it by experience.” Even if we do not see the effects of our prayers, we can be assured that our prayers are helping win the victory.
Five minutes of prayer is like a hand-grenade launched in the devil’s direction. An hour of prayer is like an artillery shell aimed at Satan’s camp. But, fasting is our top-secret weapon for defeating the enemy. Bill Bright says “[Fasting] is the spiritual atomic bomb that our Lord has given us to destroy the strongholds of evil and usher in a great revival and spiritual harvest around the world.”