The Benefits of Prayer and Fasting

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“I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” (John 12:46)

It was at Antioch that people were for the first time called Christians. In today’s first reading, we hear more about this model Christian community at Antioch. It was not just a gathering of persons who behaved like Christ, but it was also a gifted community; a community of prophets, teachers, and prayer warriors.

Without prayer, we are powerless. Without prayer, we are deaf (that is, unable to hear from God), without prayer we are blind (unable to see the hand of God in our lives), and without prayer we are dumb (unable to speak blessings over our lives). Jesus taught us: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4)

We learn from the Church in Antioch that fasting is an essential component of prayer. When we fast, we involve our whole body in prayer. Fasting helps us to silence the noises around us and feel the real hunger of our souls which is the hunger for God. When we fast, we face our fears, we realize we can survive without certain things, and we become aware of the inner power that we possess over food, luxury, or that which we had depended on for so long. St. Paul says: “I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).

Fasting enables us to develop self-control, it also opens our ears to hear more clearly from God. In Luke Chapter 2, we read about Anna the prophetess who never left the temple but was there worshipping God with fasting and prayer. The moment she saw the baby Jesus, she immediately recognized Him as the Messiah. This was exactly what happened in the Church in Antioch. While they were praying and fasting, they heard the voice of the Holy Spirit saying: “Set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them.”

In our Gospel passage today, Jesus says to us: “I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” (John 12:46). Faith in God is like a torchlight that gives us extra powers to navigate through places that others cannot see.

This is how it works; with faith, you acknowledge the existence of God. You also become conscious that God sees you and listens to you when you pray and fast. As such your prayer goes beyond words, it is not just a monologue but a dialogue.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to discipline myself so as to hear more and more from you daily. Amen

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. (Wednesday of the 4th week of Eastertide. Bible Study: Acts 12:24-13:5, Ps. 67:2-3,5-6,8, John 12:44-50)

© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu

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