HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
From a purely practical standpoint, the combination of prayer and fasting can lead to staggering results. Let’s break down the examples given above to see how God worked through each of those instances:
God welcomed Israel back into His arms (Nehemiah 9).
King Xerxes not only spared Esther when he had every right to kill her for approaching the throne uninvited but also listened to her and helped her rescue Israel from Haman (Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. Esther 4:16).
David doesn’t materially gain from praying and fasting for his enemies — quite the opposite, actually — but he reveals to the world that he truly is a man after God’s own heart (They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul. 13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom. 14 I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother. Psalm 35:12-14).
God hears Daniel’s pleas and sends an angel to prophesy to him (Daniel 9).
Anna gets to meet her Saviour in person (And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38).
Paul and Barnabas found the men God wanted them to appoint as elders (And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. Acts 14:23).
We should be praying and fasting whether or not we get the results we want; the hardships David faced in his life weren’t enough to stop him, so why are our hardships enough to stop us?
Seeing that those results are possible should be more than enough to encourage us to make prayer and fasting part of our lives the same way the heroes of the Bible did.