A Liturgy for Fasting and Prayer

I recently participated in A Call to Fast and Pray at Biola.  This event was the vision of Peter Brown (a current graduate student at Biola).  Fifty or so Biola students gathered to eat dinner together at the start of the fast and to listen to a message by Biola professor Jon Lunde.  At evening’s end, Peter extended an invitation to spend the following 24 hours fasting and praying that God would do a deep spiritual work in the semester ahead.  In preparation for this event, Peter wrote a helpful liturgy that could be used while people prayed.  (Note that this liturgy was based to some degree upon a talk I gave about fasting at last semester’s A Call to Fast and Pray).  I share the following liturgy with Peter’s permission.


Sustenance: Father, how I need you, even more than food. Sustain me, for I am weak.

Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. ­– Deut. 8:4

My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. – John 4:34


Fervency: God, ignite my heart to burn with zeal for you. May fasting intensify my prayers. May you hear my fervent cries and answer. Grant me my requests, I beg you.

Zeal for your house has consumed me… I wept and humbled my soul with fasting.          – Psalm 69:9

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit…. be constant in prayer. – Rom. 12:11–12

I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven… “Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night.” – Neh. 1:4, 6

Then I turned my face to the Lord, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes… Oh my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations and the city that is called by your name. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. Oh Lord, pay attention and act. Do not delay, for your own sake, O my God. – Dan. 9:3, 18–19


Humility: Father, please respond in your great mercy. My prayer and fasting earns nothing. You must act. As I pray and fast, guard me from flaunting these childlike efforts.

Then I proclaimed a fast… that we might humble ourselves before our God… So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty. – Ezra 8:21, 23

For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. – Dan. 9:18

And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites… And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. – Matt. 6:16, 18

“I am not like other men… I fast twice a week…” For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. – Luke 18:11–12, 14


Treasuring: God, you are more satisfying than the most delicious feast. May I treasure you.

I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger. – John 6:35

As a dear pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. – Psalm 42:1

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you… My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips. – Psalm 63:3, 5


Mourning: Jesus, I grieve your absence. Come quickly, Lord.

The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. – Matt. 9:15


Waiting: Father, I wait for you more than I wait to eat.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope, my soul waits for the LORD more than watchmen for the morning. –Psalm 130:5–6


Repentance: O God, my sin is great. Grant me the strength to repent and turn to you.

Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests, wail… pass the night in sackcloth… Because grain offering and drink offering are withheld from the house of your God. Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly… and cry out to the LORD… Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. – Joel 1:13–14; 2:12–13

The people of Israel assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. – Neh. 9:1–2

And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth.       – Jonah 3:5


Temptation: Father in heaven, lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil.

And Jesus… was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. – Luke 4:1–2


Guidance: Father, grant me direction and discernment for what is ahead. Speak, O Lord.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” – Acts 13:2

And after appointing elders for them in every church after praying with fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. – Acts 14:23


Dedication: Lord, I commit my way to you. I dedicate what is ahead. Your kingdom come.

Then after fasting and praying they laid hands on them and sent them off. – Acts 13:3

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. ­– Psalm 37:5


Songs: Things Are Not Okay (Jon Thurlow); Yearn (Shane & Shane); Lord, I Need You (Matt Maher); Take the World, but Give Me Jesus (R.A.I.N.); Satisfied in You (Sing Team); Holy Spirit (Bryan & Katie Torwalt); Oh, How I Need You (All Sons and Daughters); I Want It All (Daniel Bashta); Suddenly (Daniel Bashta); First (Lauren Daigle); Psalm 130 (Robbie Seay Band)

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