Re-Claiming the Art of Biblical Fasting


Introduction: Fasting.  The topic that Christians love to talk about but hate actually putting into practice.  Fasting is an art.  It’s a Spiritual discipline.  It takes time.  It takes patience.  And it takes endurance.  Lots of endurance.  It isn’t easy, but it is character forming and brings you into a deeper understanding of Christ’s love for you and for the world.  In the following paragraphs, I’d like to help you discover the art of fasting.  Fasting is something that I have done in different forms at different times.  I’ve done fasts from food, from social media, and from talking (also called silent retreats).  I’m still not terribly good at it.  It still takes so much effort for me to stick with the program and for me to not allow my physical and emotional cravings to get the better of me when I’m trying to focus on Christ.  That’s why it’s an art.  It’s something that you don’t develop overnight.  But if you make the effort to seek God and to read His Word through this discipline I guarantee He will provide you with immeasurable richness of blessings!  It’s hard work, but in the end of the day, it’s totally worth it!

Why Fast? When I was growing up, my church never really stressed or taught the discipline of fasting, but the Bible never told us to stop doing it!  It’s just another way of receiving blessings and showing submission and obedience to Christ’s will.

As Corey Russell, one of the International House of Prayer KC Leaders who did a sermon at the IHOPKC One Thing 2013 conference mentioned in his talk, “fasting food will starve the other loves.  It will make you vulnerable to the truth.”[1]

Think of Jesus.  Shortly after the most Spiritually monumental time in His life, He went into the desert to fast and pray and to seek the Will of God for His life.[2]  As He was praying He became very vulnerable.  Satan tempted Him with all of the goods that this world offers.  His first temptation was in the form of physical food.[3]  My goal here is not to get into a theological discussion about all of Christ’s temptations and what they all meant, but as you can imagine the immediate gratification that fresh bread would give must have been very hard to ignore.  That’s because fasting is HARD!  If you have ever fasted you know that for the first several hours it’s so hard to get the idea of eating out of your head.  Christ later became vulnerable to even greater temptations – the temptations of the heart and the flesh to seek status and wealth.[4]  Yet because Christ was fasting, He was given supernatural strength to shun all of these desires and put them as second place in His life.  He starved out the other potential loves, and that gave way to immeasurable truth.  A truth which enabled Him to seek the ways of God.  A maturity to handle delayed gratification rather than indulgence.  It is through His fasting that He used great wisdom to give a rebuttal to Satan which included the very words from the Scriptures!

There are also many other reasons that Scripture gives us for why we should fast.  I will highlight a few of them below:

– It produces DISCIPLINE which is a necessary part of not only the Christian life, but even life in general.  We all need discipline to complete things which are difficult or which seem impossible rather than giving up.  Furthermore, discipline produces character and perseverance.[5]  Discipline produces endurance.[6] 

– Fasting opens our hearts and our minds to seek the Will of God[7]

– Fasting gives us an opportunity to confess and repent of deeply embedded sins which we have committed and to refocus our lives so as not to live in that same way again[8]

– Fasting gives us a rich and vibrant personal prayer time[9]

– Fasting gives us a chance to intercede on behalf of others and to cry out for their Salvation.[10] 

– Fasting helps to strength ministries.  One of the best examples I can give of this is how during my time as a pregnancy center intern, our staff used to fast Monday during lunch and we would use that time to pray for our clients and for our ministry.[11]

– Fasting helps you to identity problem areas in your spiritual and personal life.[12]

– Fasting allows you the opportunity to intercede for the national or for the global world.[13]

– Fasting allows you the opportunity to deepen your own prayer life and spirituality.[14]

– Fasting puts you in the position of receiving blessings.[15]

– Fasting can be an observance (or in obedience to) a religious festival already declared by God.  For example, during the Jewish Passover, we are told not to eat leavened bread.[16]  Although this is not a complete fast, it is abstaining from one item (thus, a form of fasting).  Additionally, many Christians choose to fast or to only eat Fish on Good Friday and there are also Catholics who will abstain from meat on all Fridays.

– Fasting allows you the opportunity to declare victory and release over oppressive forces of darkness[17]

– Fasting is another way of reclaiming the Sabbath (an important observance which we often pass over in North American culture).  Fasting from social media on Sundays can be a great way of being countercultural and reclaiming that time for Christ.

– Fasting allows you the opportunity to break bad habits in your own life (example: drugs, excessive drinking, gambling, pornography, etc).  Think about the Christian season of Lent.  I heard once in one of my undergrad Bible classes that from a psychological viewpoint, it takes 40 days to break a habit.  That’s why during Lent, many people give something up and choose to take it a step further by replacing that void with something good.  Any obstacle which does not honour Christ or which we devout more time to than to God can become an obstacle in our lives.  Fasting from those pleasures and gratifications opens us up to first of all realize the problem or the item which has the potential of being troublesome, and secondly, to be able to break the habit.

Why Reclaim? The very first reason that we should reclaim fasting is exactly because it IS Biblical!  Fasting also gives us the opportunity to remember our Lord’s passion and all that He suffered.  Just like He denied Himself, so it is also our privilege as Christians to deny ourselves.    Fasting can also make us more aware of the needs of others around the globe and the reality that millions go to bed without food every day.  That’s why fasts such as the 30 Hour Famine are so popular within churches or fasts from talking which draw attention to the unfortunate and unpleasant realities of the sex trade and those who are silenced because of oppression due to racism, gender inequality (sexism), or because of a disability. 

Reclaiming fasting also is one of the very best ways to learn humility.[18]  In a culture which often views individualism as a bonus, we need to learn how to be servants and humble.  It’s hard to learn how to be humble.  We can’t just talk about it, but we actually have to put it into practice!  Fasting is one way among others to learn that skill.

Fasting also is counter-cultural.  How many people do you know (who aren’t Christians) who actually fast unless their doctor tells them they need to because of a medical examination?  I don’t know any!  Fasting is one way to make you be set apart from the world and to live for Christ!  Not only that, but as mentioned before, it helps you to know when other things (such as gluttony) are beginning to take an unhealthy place in your life.  When they are becoming idols, or when you are using them as a coping mechanism when you are stressed out, bored, or depressed.

Finally, fasting is HEALTHY for you!  It may not be enjoyable to go without food, but I have read ample health books and spoken to doctors who recommend periodically fasting as a way to release the toxins in your body, to realign your juices, and to release any unnecessary chemicals.  That’s not to say that you need to fast ALL the time… but it’s recommended at least a few times a year because of its health benefits.  People who fast, even if only once or twice a year, often have less of a chance of getting disease.  I’m not a health professional, so don’t quote me on all of this.  If you’re interested in the health benefits, you’ll have to Google it or talk to your doctor about it yourself!  Keep in mind, also, that fasting does not necessarily mean completely abstaining from food.  There are other types of fasting such as raw food diets and vegetarianism/veganism.  If done wisely and with much research, often people on these diets can live a healthier life than those who eat meat.[19] 

What to Do When You Fast: The Bible does give us some direction as to how to fast, which is perfect for anyone just starting out who does not have much experience in this area.

First of all, determine the reason why you are fasting.  Fasting can be personal, corporate, national, or familial (natural or spiritual family).  Maybe you are fasting to hear God’s voice regarding a move or career change.  Maybe you are fasting because you really want to see your brother come to know Christ.  Maybe you are fasting because you have just gone through a tragedy and you want to hear God’s voice in it.  There’s also the possibility that like King David, you are fasting because you want God to change His mind on something that would bring grievous consequences to your life.[20]

Once you have determined the reason for your fast, also determine what type of fast you will have.  As I have mentioned, fasting does not need to be from food, but it could be from a variety of different things.  If you do choose a food fast you may want to start small if you’ve never fasted  before.  Perhaps over one meal once a week.  For example over lunch on Mondays.  You can also determine the length of time you want to fast – a complete day, every Monday for a month, one meal a week for a year?  It all depends on the purpose you are trying to achieve.

After these initial steps, it’s time to begin to actually fast.  Most of the time, the purpose of a fast is to PRAY or to give extra (additional) time to prayer.  It’s not simply doing without, but it’s using the time that you would have spent eating or on Facebook or whatever to seek God’s will and direction or to bring about some type of positive change.  If you simply go without and don’t replace it with something good, fasting will not have its complete effect on your life.

Secondly, don’t tell everyone that you or fasting or make it obvious to gain attention from others.[21]  Fasting is meant to be between you and God.  You may want to tell your closest friend, spouse, or pastor just in order that you have someone to hold you accountable (especially if you are contemplating a longer term fast).  It’s okay to tell one or two other people so that they can help you when you start to feel weak, because you will.  But you definitely DON’T need to go posting it on Facebook or making any big announcements about it.

Lastly, fasting is an ART.  That means it takes time and lots of effort to develop.  So don’t get discouraged if at the beginning you fail or find it very difficult.  It’s meant to be difficult, but usually things which are hard are very rewarding in the end of the day.  If you find yourself slacking, just surround yourself with an accountability partner, remind yourself again of the motivation for your fast in the first place, and pick yourself up.  Don’t give up!  You won’t develop the skill in one day or just because you have fasted once before.

Additional Precautions: Before beginning a fast, there are some things which will be beneficial to keep in mind.

I highly recommend that you consult a doctor if you are considering a food fast and have any health concerns or if you are unsure whether it would be beneficial or harmful to you.  Especially if you have issues related to diabetes, high/low blood pressure, or are on any type of medication this is definitely something you will want to consult them about before you actually do it.  Don’t take the risk, even if it’s only fasting over one meal.  Nothing is worse than having a fast interrupted because you have blacked out (and we aren’t talking about being slain in the Spirit here!).  The same precaution goes for if you are considering fasting through taking up a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle but you have health concerns such as Anemia.  Also, I would recommend consulting your doctor if you want a food fast but in the past have had other issues related to food (such as anorexia or bulimia).  Make sure to take care of your physical health at all times!

If health circumstances (such as illness, age, pregnancy, etc) prevent you from full fasting I would highly recommend considering another type of fast such as from social media.  It’s not the TYPE of fast that matters, but the reason behind the fast.  The motivations of your heart.[22]

While fasting from food, make sure that you still receive ample levels of fluid, especially water.  If you are diabetic or have other health concerns, you may also want to consider fruit juices, vitamin water, or Gatorades.  Consult your doctor about what types of fluids would be best for you if you have any concerns.  Don’t feel guilty about drinking liquids while fasting!  It isn’t cheating, it’s taking care of the Temple![23]

Another thing that has helped others when fasting from food is to chew gum.  The liquid released from the gum helps coat your throat and takes your mind off of some of the hunger pains because you are stimulating the action of eating through chewing.  Again, this is NOT cheating!  Don’t become legalistic about the fast otherwise there’s no purpose to fasting.

Conclusion: Whether you want to fast from food, social media, or talking, fasting is a great way to refocus your priorities, your energies, and your passions.  It’s a great way to seek God and to find rest and renewal in Him.  It’s also a great way to find healing from emotional and psychological (or Spiritual) pains which may be harming you.  I hope that what you have read here is beneficial for you as you start your journey of fasting and I trust that God will provide blessings to you as you make the journey

[1] December 31st  Sermon by Corey Russell at IHOPKC One Thing 2013 Conference

[20]  See Also:



“At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You, because of Your righteous judgements.” (Psalm 119:62)[1]

“My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I may meditate on Your Word.” (Psalm 119:148)[2]

ALL Christians are called to pray without ceasing.[3]  All Christians are called to approach the Throne Room of Grace with thanksgiving and intercession, and all are called to pray for the leaders of the Nations.[4]  As a Christian our first and primary responsibility to Christ is in the form of prayerful adoration.  Every great ministry begins, ends, and is completely encompassed in prayer.

To the unsaved onlooker, prayer may seem so minimal.  Activists may wonder, “why don’t they go out and feed the poor? Clothe the naked? Shelter the destitute?”  All of these things are very good and social justice is one of the most important ways that a Christian can minister and proclaim their faith.  HOWEVER, prayer is the ONLY way a Christian can develop the necessary heart that they need to not only begin this ministry but to follow it through until completion.  Prayer is the only way they can be sustained in their calling to serve the poor when they start to feel weak or when they become discouraged because of their lack of progress.  Prayer is the only place they can come to recharge their batteries and find rest and solitude in Christ to be refreshed to keep going.

Therefore, what I want to say is simply this: prayer is the greatest of all ministries!  Is your best friend struggling? Do you want to give them the greatest gift you possibly can? Pray for their healing and comfort!  Is someone in grief, surround them with verses of comfort and prayers for deliverance![5]

Being a prayer warrior is NOT an easy call in the least.  There are some people who are more naturally pray-ers than others, just as there are some who can more naturally sing and more naturally preach.  HOWEVER everyone has the opportunity to build their gift of prayer according to the grace given by God and be strengthened in their capacity to pray for families, nations, and the church!

To the world, prayer may look like it’s not accomplishing much.  Just saying a bunch of words to a Being we can’t even see, but to the committed Christian, prayer is the greatest weapon against all forms of oppression and Spiritual warfare.  It is the greatest declaration of victory and the greatest hedge of protection.

What is Night Watch?

Although all Christians are called to pray, God has selected a core group of individuals who are committed to praying during the hours of 12am-6am.  The purpose of this group is as follows:

Believers who will combine prayer, intercession, and worship to encourage Christians around the world in different time zones and to pray against the present areas of darkness in this world.  Proclaiming Christ’s return until He comes again.  Declaring freedom from oppression and bondage.  Until the Holy Spirit completely outpours Himself on the earth.

Those who feel called by God to intercede at both the physically and spiritually darkest times of the day are on a unique mission to allow God to change the hearts of the nation and of individuals during the very hours when sin abounds.  For where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more![6]

Individuals who are called to the Night Watch have a unique mission which God will use to magnify His Kingdom, however, being part of the Night Watch is far from easy!  People who truly are dedicated must be willing to completely alter their priories, even giving up other social activities in order to serve God in this way.  Given its intense nature, many believers see the Night Watch as a type of “Social Fast.”

Although people who pray during the Night Watch add blessings to the Kingdom work of God, believers who are called to pray during the day are no less precious to God.  For God has called some to pray during the day, some during the night, and others to encourage these faithful intercessors.  Each one is called according to their abilities and unique ministries.

Scriptural Understandings: There are many verses in the Bible which speak to this attitude of 24/7 prayer and place special emphasis on the need for a few believers to pray during the night, although before IHOP I didn’t even know that such a ministry existed! 

One really great example of someone who was committed to living a life of 24/7 prayer was the prophetess Anna.  As we read in Luke 2:36-38, after Anna had become a widow she continued to live in the house of the Lord, daily serving Him and praying night and day.[7]  As Mike Bickle stated in one of his sermons at the conference, “Anna is a prophetess, and intercessor, an evangelist.”  She fasted and prayed which was not a call to disengagement, but rather a call to be deeply involved in the ministry of God (Mike Bickle).

We also know from the Gospel of Matthew, that Jesus may come like a thief in the night.[8]  When Jesus was tempted in the garden on the last day of his earthly reality he longed for a companion to keep watch with him during the night, however, he could find no one.[9]  When Christ comes again, let’s not be like the virgins who weren’t ready for His coming and had to wake up.  Rather, let’s be alert and waiting in expectation for His arrival.[10]

Please allow me to highlight a few of the verses that have given me comfort since I began my ministry and helped confirmed to me that the Lord was leading me in this direction:

Malachi 1:11[11]

“Behold, bless the Lord, all servants of the Lord, who serve by night in the House of the Lord.  Lift up your hands to the sanctuary and bless the Lord.  May the Lord bless you from Zion, He who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 134:1-3; this is a whole chapter dedicated to the Night Watch!)

“The Light shines in the DARKNESS and the DARKNESS has not overcome it.” – John 1:5[12]

“O God of my Salvation, I cry out DAY and NIGHT before You!” – Psalm 88:1[13]

1 Peter 2:9[14]

Lamentations 2:19

The following Scripture Verses all talk about long hours of prayer:

Isaiah 62:7-8

Mark 1:35

Mark 6:46

Luke 5:16

Luke 6:12

Luke 9:18

Luke 9:28

Other Reasons for Being Involved: From research on Spiritual warfare as well as talking about warfare with other believers who have been involved in the battle, I have discovered that often warfare can feel the strongest in the night or early morning hours.  This is especially so in geographical pockets where there are cults, sorcery, and demonic worshipful activity.  Make no mistake, beloved, often North American Christians feel like this does not apply to them.  They feel like demonic activity only happens in third world nations, far away from where they are in their comfortable houses.  However, this is not so.  In many areas around North America there is still much evil and wickedness.  People have chosen the dark rather than the light.  They worship false gods and idols of greed, lust, and addictions at any cost.  Even at the cost of their own souls.  There is violence on the streets at night that many of us are not even aware of.  Perhaps this may not be so in your own town, however, I guarantee you that regardless of where you live within a few hour’s drive there is darkness in the town over.  Yet even though the night threatens to conceal the deeds of darkness, Christ has promised to bring them to light, to expose them, and we CAN be agents to usher in that change![15]

So, this evil and depravity are happening, and the saints who are called to shine like stars, through no fault of their own have fallen asleep.[16]  Their eyelids are heavy and after a long hard day of work they are ready to call it a night.  However, while they sleep, the battle of the cosmos has only just begun!

As faithful servants slumber, the college student who has been staying up all night to write a paper that was due yesterday begins to be plagued by their insecurities and failures.  They begin to feel vulnerable.  Diabetic patients at the local hospital begin to have their blood levels dip to increasingly dangerous levels while bored nurses scuffle around checking only one patient at a time.  Many experiencing PTSD and depression are plagued by nightmares and young children cry because they experience night terrors.  Many believers who are struggling because of loss of employment, a death in the immediate family, or a personal crisis can suddenly awake in the middle of the night filled with anxiety, feeling completely lost and alone, and not sure who to call because none of their closest friends are awake and if they call their family they will immediately feel like an emergency has just happened.

Yet, how incredibly beautiful to know that during the night – whether you are that college student, that diabetic patient, or that person struggling with depression, that when you suddenly awake in the middle of the night and break out into a cold sweat, when the tempter guilts you, when your fears and failures completely cloud your vision – that there IS someone praying for you.   When you can’t even pray yourself, there is someone interceding on your behalf.  We were never called to silently go through our pain and struggles alone.  That’s not the Christian way.  We were always called to do this Jesus thing in community!

My Calling to the Night Watch: At the very beginning of the IHOPKC One Thing conference I learned about the calling to be part of the night watch.  The minute that I heard about it I knew in my heart that if God made a way for me to be able to pray from 12-6am and if finances and careers weren’t in the question I would do it in a heartbeat.  As the conference progressed and I continued to learn more and more about this unique mission my heart continued to grow with a stronger and stronger desire.  Finally, on the night that Stuart Greaves, an IHOPKC leader who currently staffs and overseas the Night Watch program spoke he invited anyone who felt a calling from God to be part of this ministry to come to the front as people already involved in the night watch prayed over us.  From that time forward I’ve continued to be passionate about this knowing that it is God’s will for me to minister to the nations in this way.

As I was worshipping one day and praying about whether God wanted me to be involved in the night watch I wrote the following in my journal all in block letters, “God is calling me to be an intercessory missionary.  To pray for my community, my city, my country, the world, the global church, and my ministry.  To cry out to God, to intercede with tears and weeping until the Kingdom of God is brought about on earth and until He comes.  He is calling others to join this ministry.  To search His will with prayer and fasting, to use social media for His glory.  To use our gifts fully for His righteousness.  To not care if we are mocked or scorned.  To care more about God and His Kingdom than we care about other people’s opinions or even our own plans and dreams.  He’s calling young men and women to build, to plant, to have vision.[17]  He’s calling the elderly to mentor, to instil disciplines into the next generation, to teach their children and grandchildren to worship the one true God.[18]  We are never too old or too young if we open our entire heart to Him and surrender everything to His mission.  Cry out to Him and join Him in His reconciling work!”

I’m not going to lie, the first time that I tried to do the Night Watch away from IHOP it was very difficult.  As it turns out, worshipping with a group of believers gives me extra energy. Perhaps because I am so extroverted, but more likely than not because you can get encouragement from them when you start to slack.  Being in my room listening to IHOP CDs (as great as they were) didn’t seem to have the same effect.  Even livestreaming the online prayer room (as great as it was) didn’t bring the same vibrancy to my worship.[19]  So, my very first night of praying the night watch ended up being left early.  I had planned to pray from 9pm-2am and instead it ended up being 10pm-12:15am.  At first I felt disappointed with myself.  But then I remembered the words of Christ to his disciples “Could you not even stay awake with Me for ONE hour?”[20]

It’s super easy to get burnt out in a ministry before you’ve even started.  It’s easy to become entrapped in your fears of failure thinking that you’ll never make it.  In reality, prayer is like exercise – it takes time to develop.  Even in non-Christian settings if you ask a Buddhist or Eastern Spiritualist about meditation they will tell you that you work up to it. You start with even 5 minutes of emptying your mind and eventually you meditate for 4 hours.  I’m not advocating for Eastern Spirituality, but the same concept hold here.

I had not had such a deep prayer life as I experienced at IHOP for the past several years and now I was expecting to run a marathon.  You don’t do stuff like that!  You’re going to sprain something and give up running completely!  I used to run cross country – 6ks.  You don’t start with running the full 6k!  You begin with running 2, then 4, and eventually 6.  So, I realized I needed to start small.  Even if I only spend an hour with Christ at the beginning, I’m building up to the fact that eventually I want to be able to spend all night in prayer with Him!  Even if at the very beginning the flesh is weak, the Spirit remains willing![21]

By the way, in case you’re wondering, I still had a lovely time with Christ and meaningful prayerful experience even though by 12:15am I was so tired and had a hard time keeping up.  The truth is, though, that even after praying for 2 hours there was still more that I had on my heart to pray about.  It was an incredible time.  Rather than push myself over the brink and begin to resent it, I left that night more in love with the Night Watch and knowing that I want to come back again in a few days to the quiet place.

My Commitment: The book of Ephesians, perhaps one of the best writings on Spiritual warfare, teaches us that, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”[22]

It is with this understanding and encouragement that I commit to praying in the watches of the night twice a week recognizing that all great ministries begin and end with prayer.  Recognizing that changes happen when prayers continually go up.  Recognizing that God chooses to reveal Himself in incredible ways during the night. 

I know that to the world this will not seem to accomplish much, but if it were not for the prayers of faithful grandmothers, college students, and unlikely Christians our culture would not be pushed towards the Holy Spirit – it is a powerful and incredibly important work!

I also commit to being a prayer line for my family, friends, and church during the Night Watch whereby they can call me during the hours I am praying to receive prayer without fear that they will be waking me up and when they do not know who else to call.  They can also text, email, or Facebook me anytime day or night with prayer requests.  I will continue the cries of the faithful once they are asleep; after they have cried out to God all day I will continue those prayers.

At the moment, my job does not permit the lifestyle of praying 12am-6am so I have had to modify it to 9pm-2am.  However, I continue to trust that if it is the Lord’s Will one day He will allow me the privilege of praying the full night watch.

Hoping On-Board – A Plan of Action for Those Who are New:

If you’ve been reading along and feel a call from God to be part of this ministry, I’d like to encourage you in that area and invite you to begin to pray a shift (probably about 2 hours at the very beginning).  Pray a shift with the intention that once a week you will be interceding intentionally during the night hours and praying against the darkness.  It is a very intentional calling and process.  Additionally, know that your calling could be for a time or for life.  If you are called for a time it does not at all imply inferiority.  Perhaps God will just have different priorities for you in the future.

Know that not everyone is called to intentionally pray at night and that is completely OK.  As mentioned earlier, some are called to the day watches, and others are called to offer encouragement and prayer support for those praying at night.  Regardless of your calling, God will use you to do abundantly magnificent things for His Kingdom work.

The following is a general idea of how I want to do my Night Watch loosely based off of the Anabaptist Prayer Book and the way that we worshipped and prayed while I was at IHOPKC:

12am – We pray for ourselves and those dearest to us

~For God to raise up Godly marriages and Godly families in our Nation

~ For those in Grief

~ For those who need healing

~ For those experiences nightmares, that just like the Prophet Joel declared that God will transform the terrors into prophetic dreams[23]

~ For new mothers who join us at this hour as they take care of new life

~ For the prayer requests offered up at church which we so often forget to acknowledge

1am – We pray for our geographical location (city)

~ Those ensnared by the darkness of this flesh (that You would break bonds of addiction, poverty, and habitual sin and fill them with good things instead)

~ Those who have been defiled because of the sins of others – to fill them with a knowledge that they are loved and that they are made fully complete in You

~ For the homeless in our neighbourhood/area

~ For those involved with gangs and street violence

~ For those afflicted and those who have lost jobs or are in economic hardship

~ For those who face spiritual poverty

2am – We pray for our nation

~ For our political leaders

~ For our spiritual leaders

~ That God would bring change and revival to our nation

~ For the incarcerated

~ For recent immigrants

~ For those who face prejudice and discrimination because of racial violence, sexism, hatred, misunderstandings, or homophobic insults

3am – We pray for our world

~ For Bible poverty to end so that all nations can know the Truth in their heart language

~ For areas where Christians are persecuted and imprisoned – that they will be strengthened and encouraged

 ~ That God will raise up mighty men and women of the Spirit who have gifts of leadership and prophetic insight in every continent and every country

~ For those affected by natural disasters

~ For our environment which is often pillaged and plundered and for areas of the globe which lack access to clean drinking water and other natural resources

~ For children around the globe who are orphans and unable to receive education

~ For areas which are still deeply affected by sexism and places where people worship the spirit of darkness and are held bondage to false gods

~ For racial reconciliation

~ For all missionaries, but especially for those in remote areas and secure countries where their names cannot even be published and where their threat of persecution and even death is a reality

~ For those just now sensing a call to ministry and missions, but not entirely sure what to do with it

~ For Bible and discipleship schools and seminary students everywhere

4am – We offer You other concerns we carry in our hearts

~ For our city as it wakes up and for safety of workers as they travel to their workplaces

~ For all saints to impact their co-workers, employers, and those they serve

~ For our unsaved co-workers and clients

~ For families who have recently experienced abortion to know that Christ truly forgives

~ For families expecting a child and those who face bareness

~ For those without families; for the fatherless to discover God as their true Father

** The point of the schedule is to be a guide for those brand-new to the Night Watch. There is a great deal of flexibility in following the Spirit during the physically and spiritually darkest time of the day.  It’s incredible when we combine prayer, Scripture, meditation, worship, and intercession because they really aren’t separate categories, but intertwined with each other.  Inseperable.  The same things.

However, there is a warning to those who are called to engage in Night Watch which IHOPKC Night Watch Leader, Stuart Greaves states.   “Often during the night activity ceases which may take away from distractions, but can also lead to idleness (which is the greatest enemy of the prayer life)!” 

Nevertheless great blessings also await the child of God who is called to Night Watch and faithfully heeds that call.  Some of these blessings are as follows:
“Glorious communion awaits when you stand with God in the watches of the night.” – Stephen, former IHOPKC Night Watch Intern

“The opportunity to affect the dream lives of believers.” – Stuart Greaves

“A rapid increase of worship.” – Stuart Greaves


Yes, there are will be difficult days ahead if you commit to the Night Watch.  There will be days when you will be physically exhausted and want to put it off.  There will be nights when your temptations come out and you are discouraged because you thought you had conquered them long ago through the blood of the Lamb and now they are staring you right in the face.  There will be times when your phone rings and you want to accept a social call.  BUT if you are willing, God will strengthen you in those times and your sacrifice will totally be worth it.  So the question remains, “HOW MUCH IS JESUS WORTH?  WHAT IF I AM CALLED TO THIS FOR THE REST OF MY DAYS (AND NOT JUST FOR A SEASON)?” – Stephen, IHOPKC

[19] You can access IHOPKC’s online prayer room here:

Developing a Posture of Perpetual Prayer (Mennocostal: IHOPKC Onething Series)


The idea that Christians pray is often a mandate which is taken for granted.  We assume that it is the Christian thing to do and that all Christians pray.  Prayer is, after all, what makes a Christian.  It is the fundamental root of Christianity.  The one action that keeps us living and breathing Christ.  The Apostle Paul wrote that we are to “pray without ceasing” regardless of our circumstances.[1]  Yet, if only all Christians prayed!  If only all Christians fervently poured out their hearts on a regular basis how different our nations and our world would be!  Indeed we would see miracles happening!  We would truly see blessings taken place in our daily lives.

Prayer is something that I have often struggled with in my own life.  There have definitely been seasons of my life when I have been so on fire for Christ that I have prayed for hours and lived out my life as if it were an aroma to God.[2]  Yet, there have been even more times in my life when I have wrestled with knowing what to say to God.  There are times in my personal life when I am really struggling and when God seems distant and talking to Him seems so much harder than talking to a friend who I have met and gotten to know in person over the past few years.  To be honest, I have often been envious of Moses who was able to talk to God face-to-face in the way a man talks to his best friend![3]

Martin Luther once noted that, “It is the business of tailors to mend clothes and cobblers to fix shoes, and it is the BUSINESS OF CHRISTIANS TO PRAY.”  Christians are to be about their Father’s business, always!  It’s our vocation and our missional calling! 

We know that prayer is important because it is perhaps THE most fundamental teaching in all of Scriptures.  I know of few other topics which have as much teaching devoted to them than prayer and which have been modeled by Christ, Himself, as much as prayer.  Works of justice, righteousness, and compassion are important to the Christian faith and Christians are called to engage in them – but they are secondary to prayer.  Without prayer these works will cease.  Without pray these works are not sustainable!  That’s because, as Mike Bickle (founder and leader of the International House of Prayer movement in Kansas City, MO) states, “prayer and mission are inseparable and both need the prophetic ministry added on to them.”[4]

WHY PRAY?Oftentimes when you meet a very mature Christian, someone who has been through the most difficult things in their own lives, but who still has an unshakeable faith the answer for why they are able to keep carrying on even amidst adversity lies in the fact that they pray!  That they talk to God about whatever’s going on in their life and that He answers even if it is in unexpected ways.  They trust Him to be faithful even when they are not.[5]

Their prayer life has rooted them so deeply in Christ’s love and care for them that their hearts have a completely rock solid foundation.  Even when the highest storm waves crash over the sea or the mightiest tempests blow, they are still standing firm.  They are immoveable.[6]  They can sign with gusto the words to the song which says, “What though my joys and comforts die?  The Lord my Saviour liveth! What though the darkness gather round?  Songs in the night He giveth! No storm can shake my inmost calm while to the Rock I’m clinging.  Since Christ is Lord of Heaven and Earth, how can I keep from singing?”[7]

In the book of James we read the following, “Now the prayer offered in faith will make a sick person well.  The Lord will raise him up and he will be healed.  If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.  Confess your sins then to each other and PRAY for each other so that you may be HEALED.  The PRAYER of a righteous man is POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE.”

Have you ever seen mountains move?  Have you ever seen the earth turn over and surrender to God?  It’s because faithful people pray!  It’s the prayers of the elderly grandmothers for their grandchildren that impact the world.  It’s the prayers of the drunkard crying out in the dead of night that awakens God’s attention![8]  It’s in the sinner’s cry, the beating of the chest that God hears – it’s NOT in the pious, overly zealous prayer that is full of empty words but no heart![9]

When we pray for our brothers and sisters, God promises to heal them of their afflictions.  He promises to bring them comfort and relief.  He promises forgiveness and complete absolution of any sins.  But James doesn’t just end with that.  He says that not only are we to pray silently in our rooms, but that we should also have prayer meetings where we gather with other believers and are mutually encouraged by the things that Christ is teaching them!  How often I have been in a prayer meeting hearing another brother or sister pray something that the Lord has laid on their heart and in that instance known that that word was meant for me and that God was giving me the same encouragement that He had taught them!  If you are righteous and if you’re living a life that follows after Christ’s heart than it doesn’t matter how long you have been saved, it doesn’t matter how much seminary education you have, and it doesn’t matter if you are able to sing or preach, your prayers are still effective.  Your prayers are still heard by God and He takes notice of them!

A CALLING TO A LIFE OF PRAYER: Throughout my life, I have relegated prayer to the sidelines.  I made it a point to pray before meals and before bed… often my “amen” being muttered in the morning when I had gotten up realizing that I trailed off before I even finished.  As I got older and started to be more involved with non-Christian peers that soon ended up resulting in me not even thinking of praying before meals.  Sometimes I went entire weeks without lifting my heart and voice to Christ!  In the back of my mind, Christ was always there, but He was more like the One I called on when I needed something.  I didn’t spend nearly as much time praising and worshiping Him as He deserved.

However, over the last few years Christ has started tugging on my heartstrings again and reclaiming His rightful place as center of my life.  He has reminded me of my need for Him and how to a believer prayer is the food and water of the soul.  He has reminded me that in order to grow into full Christian maturity I need to spend time in His Word discovering who He is.

With Christ, prayer is a 24/7 lifestyle, it’s not simply a once in a while type deal.  It’s not good enough just to pray at breakfast.  It takes effort, but we really need to carve out dedicated time for Him.  Once we start intentionally making time for prayer and making time for Christ in our lives, then there is no possible way that we will stop being able to share our testimonies.  No possible way that we will stop being able to share all that we have seen and heard![10]  When we pray we will begin to see the hearts of families and of nations turned to Christ.  Until we pray, though, we can utter with our lips that we want to see revival, but it won’t take place.  It won’t take place because God sees our hearts and He knows that we are all talk and no action.  That we don’t want it enough to spend even one hour with Him in order to help join Him in His reconciling mission of the church on this earth!

HOW IHOP CHANGED MY PRAYER LIFE: A large part of my IHOP experience was simply being able to spend unhindered time with Christ alone where He came and ministered to my soul.  He delivered me out of my brokenness and set my feet on high places so that I could worship Him.[11]  During this time with Christ alone He continued to repeat over and over to my soul, “come with Me to the quiet place and allow Me to minister to you.”  I believe that this is the same message that Christ echoes to each person – young and old, across all different nationalities and ethnicities, across all socioeconomic levels.  It is a message of what true greatness really is. It is a reminder that all ministries need to be consumed with an attitude of prayer and completely covered with adoration to Christ!

We are often reminded in the Bible that worshiping and prayer never stops.  In Revelation we read that, “day and night they did not cease worshiping the Lamb.”  They kept saying over and over, “blessing, and honour, glory, and power be unto the Ancient of Days!”[12]  The Apostle Paul reminds us to be “steadfast in prayer and abundant in love.”[13]  Note here how prayer comes before love.  That’s because it’s impossible for us to love without first experiencing the ultimate and true love of Christ!  There are many non-Christian married couples who are deeply committed to one another, there are many non-Christian parents who truly do love their children, but they only love the best they know how to.  They don’t know true love because they have never experienced what that feels like.  I don’t doubt the fact that they are compassionate to their children and spouses, but the Bible tells us plainly that WE LOVE BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US![14]  If you want to know true love, if you want your love for your significant other, spouse, or child to grow, you need Christ to minister to you!  You need to come with Him to the quiet place so that He can love you and fill you with a love so great that you never knew it was possible to love someone to that extent before!


In the first sermon that I heard Mike Bickle preach he told us, “Worship is an agreement of who Christ is.  Intercession is an agreement of what Christ said He would do.”  In order to have a vibrant prayer life – one that makes God take notice and one which will draw us into deeper Spiritual maturity with Christ, we need both of these elements.  They are completely inseparable.

At IHOP we listened and sang music, but it was NOT a concert.  I’ve been to many concerts before.  I have many favourite secular as well as Christian artists.  Oftentimes these concerts (primarily secular) are little more than mosh pits with the occasional overpriced beer or whisky.  Yet at IHOP as we sang, we were lead into deeper worship and communion with Christ.  Sometimes I sang, other times I sat there silently, there were a few times that I wept.  Still other times I prayed and interceded so hard and felt assurance from Christ that He was going to bring healing to the people I was praying for.  He confirmed many things to me during my time with Him.   I promise you that if you spend that time with Christ, He will do the same for you!  If you make an effort for Him, He will make time for you!  He’s never too busy to hear the requests of His children!


When I went to IHOP I traveled with a group of just under 50 young adults (ages 18-30).  I got into a 12 passenger van with them and we drove all the way down to Kansas City, Missouri (which is a little over 15 hours from where I live).  I didn’t know anyone before I left.  I actually had a lot of anxiety.  I am an extrovert and do really enjoy getting to meet other young adults, especially if they are Christian and I perceive that we might be able to have much in common and might be able to network.  But when I left my hometown I had been through a very difficult past four months and was feeling pretty broken and the idea of having people I never even met before minister to me sounded pretty daunting.

I’m glad I didn’t let that hold me back!  These young adults might have been primarily younger than me, but they had a certain spiritual maturity that really inspired me.  This maturity led them to give up a shopping trip in St. Louis just so that we could spend additional hours in prayer at IHOP and continue to intercede and see the Spirit move and work!  To be honest, I don’t know many other 18 year olds who would have taken our leader up on that offer!

Really, it’s crazy how I spent all day every day for 6 days, literally over 10 hours in worship and then came back to the hotel and continued praying and discerning the Lord’s voice.  Even prophesying.  Up until last week when I went to IHOP, this was the kind of stuff I had only heard about in books or from missionaries.  I thought the empowerment of the Holy Spirit was confined to Africa and Asia.  I never realized He was so present here in affluent and busy North America!  I’ve never experienced worshiping this long before.  When I was a student at Tyndale there were some intense times when I was caught up in the Spirit and worshiped for 3 hours…once even almost all night.  But never all day AND all night!  I’ve adopted this posture of prayer.  At IHOP there were days when it was 1:30am and I just couldn’t stop praising Him.  Some days I would get 5 or 6 hours of sleep because I was so caught up in the Spirit and in worship, and I would be fully recharged the next day, and usually I’m the type of person who needs 8 hours or I’m sunk. 

I used to marvel that Africans went to church for hours, now I know it IS possible and it’s what I want.  I feel like I could do this all day every day and never get bored of it.  This must be just a glimpse of what heaven will be like when all nations praise God with the angels day and night before the Throne unceasingly!

CONCLUSION:Sometimes people think that I’ve gone IHOP crazy.  That I’m all about edifying IHOP, but that’s not the case at all!  IHOP was just one instrument that God used to encourage and strengthen me in my walk with Him.  He could have used any other means and I would have been equally as grateful, but God spoke to me and got a hold of my heart through this conference.  Any thanksgiving I have goes straight to God.  I give IHOP props for being faithful to the calling God has laid on their heart and how they have ministered to thousands and pray that God will bless them richly both in heaven and on earth for it.  But in the end of the day – it’s God I worship, NOT IHOP.

I want to encourage you to read my next several blogs about how the Spirit moved during my time at IHOPKC and all that He taught me while I was there.  My next blog will be written on the topic of intercession primarily on how God called me and equipped me to pray during the Night Watch – one of the most intense and Spiritually demanding assignments He has ever given me, but a ministry for which I am glad to be a part.  I hope you will join me in reading that blog and that the Lord may also call some of my faithful readers to join me in this vision of proclaiming the Kingdom of Christ until He comes again.[15]

[4] From a sermon Mike Bickle preached at IHOPKC’s ONETHING 2013 Conference

[7] My Life Flows On (Text and Music By: Robert Lowry, 1869)

[8] Better Than A Hallelujah (By: Amy Grant)

Reflections of a Mennocostal – My IHOPKC Experience (An Introduction to A Blogging Series)

Image This NOT this Image

INTRO TO IHOP: No I am not talking about pancakes…although I do love the IHOP restaurant which I frequented during my days as a seminary student living in Indiana…yum… I drool just thinking of it.  Instead I am talking about an international prayer movement which is spreading around the globe and which the Holy Spirit recently used to break me, wreck me, and mess me up (in a good way).  Let me introduce this movement to you in the next few paragraphs.

Every year tens of thousands from over 100 different nations around the globe flock to the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri.  Tens of thousands more join the IHOP movement through a live online web streaming of their 24/7 prayer room (which you can access here: (  IHOP has also gained momentum over the years even offering a university program focused on intercession with majors in media, ministry, music, and missions.  IHOP also offers inner-city and prayer internships, has helped develop several well-known musicians including Misty Edwards and Jon Thurlow, and offers vibrant ministries for children, as well as deliverance ministry for those affected by the sex-trade (known as Exodus Cry:  IHOPs are located in many other locations across the United States and a few IHOPs are being formed in both developed and developing countries around the world.  There is also a similar movement in Toronto called THOP (Toronto House of Prayer: 

With all of these ministries, it would appear that he Holy Spirit is in this movement, however, not everyone thinks so.  Toted as a revival movement by some and a cult by others, leader and founder, Mike Bickle ( and speakers associated with the ministry such as Lou Engle are both loved as well as scorned.

Throughout the years, people have, however unfortunately and unrightly, developed inaccurate representations of what IHOP is and I admit that when I went to the One Thing young adult’s conference from December 28th-31st, 2013, I was anything but sold out on the movement.[1]  I was skeptical at best and cynical at worst.  Being a General Conference Mennonite, I’ve always been cautious about charismatic worship, even though over the past 4 years, God has been leading me deeper and deeper into manifestations of the Spirit which I can’t ignore.  I came to IHOP because I was curious – I wasn’t really expecting much.  I literally thought that people would roar like lions and that there would be gold dust and proclamations that people can raise from the dead.  But that’s not what I discovered!  Instead I discovered beautiful new friendships strategically placed in my life, believers passionate about prayer, and a deepened journey with Christ in my own life.

In the following paragraphs I want to share with you just a taste of what God laid on my heart at this conference and why I feel like if I keep it in it will be fire to my bones.[2]

The amazing think about IHOP is that it is a ministry consumed by a passion for prayer.  They do evangelism, social justice, and worship, but everything revolves around an attitude and posture of all day and all night prayer.  This is a unique ministry for although all ministries which are of God pray fervently, very few have someone sustaining it through prayer literally during every hour of the day and night. 

What also surprises me about this movement is that people keep coming back and every year the ministry grows exponentially.  When I asked a young woman from my group who attended her fourth One Thing conference what the draw was she replied, “It’s the longevity.  The fact that it’s the oldest prayer movement in North America, and Francis Chan is speaking.”  She also remarked that One Thing has incredible worship and people are so touched by it that they share that excitement with their friends who then become curious.  Almost everyone in attendance at the conference is there because they have experienced the worship before and loved it or they have heard of someone else’s experience of worship and wanted to join in.

These two things surprise me, but perhaps the biggest surprise is how people who have never even attended IHOP think lowly of this movement.  I DON’T agree with some of the doctrinal theology or priorities which encompass this movement, but I also can’t deny that God has ministered to thousands here – which is why they keep returning, sometimes more than once a year.  We wonder where the youth are in the church but when over 31,000 young adults all gather to worship in one place we disregard it as a cult rather than glorifying the Holy Spirit.

Here’s the thing: If God would have made me want to love Him more, but not given me the Holy Spirit, it would have been enough.

If God would have poured out the Spirit, but not given me a specific missional calling it would have been enough.

If God would have given me a calling, but not spoken into my brokenness, it would have been enough.

If God would have spoken into my brokenness, but not filled me with a love of worship it would have been enough.

But God in His mercy showed me all these things and so much more!


It’s incredible how I went to IHOPKC with a group of about 50 young adults ages 18-30 and in sharing testimonies with each other throughout the conference was encouraged to discover that each one was challenged by God in a different way and for different purposes.  Each and everyone from our group has left changed – with a greater passion to know God and a greater desire to do the Will of the Father.

Personally, I left knowing that I want to fall in love with God in the same way that Jacob fell in love with Rachel.  He loved her so much that he worked for 14 years but to him it didn’t even feel like a day because he was so consumed by his love for her.[3]  That’s what I want my relationship with God to look like.  I want to start spending more time WITH God rather than just FOR Him.  I want to go and tell others all that I have seen and heard, how the lame now walk, the blind now see, and the deaf now hear.[4]  I want to see women receive their dead back to life![5]

So, was it worth it to drive 20 hours to the Midwest with a bunch of people I’ve never met, live off of 5 hours of sleep for 6 days, and leave all technology at home fasting from social media?  I think it was.  Allow me to share why in the next several blogs.

KEY LEARNINGS FROM IHOP: I have decided to devote the next several blogs on ZwiebachandPeace to the work that the Holy Spirit accomplished in my life through attending IHOPKC.  I do this with the understanding and discernment (through listening to the voice of the Spirit) that although there are some things which are meant to be of a private nature, between God and I, there are also many things which God confirmed to me would be an encouragement to other believers from around the globe.

My next few blogs will address: 1) A Four Part Series on the Following:

A)     Developing and Remaining in a posture of prayer at all times. 

~ Learning how to cultivate a lifestyle of prayer and fasting.

B)     Expecting great things and revival to happen

~ Great things may happen in miraculous ways, but more often than not they happen in the stillness of our souls and in the sound of sheer silence.[6]


C)    Delivering a Prophetic Vision

~ Prophesy is perhaps the one gift that requires the most discernment for there are many false prophets.[7]

~ Many people believe that prophesy is fortune telling so they regard it as ungodly, however, more often than not it is about confirming stirrings which others have already started to feel, encouraging them about where they’re at in their walk with God while making them crave more, and boldly declaring the Scriptures through rightly dividing the Word of Truth.[8]
~ Rev. 22:6


D)    Cultivating the Multicultural Reality of Heaven on Earth

~I live in Toronto – the most multicultural place in the world.  There are many times when I am the only visible minority on the bus BECAUSE I AM WHITE!  But compared to Heaven, Toronto is pale, not tastefully colourful.  Heaven is a way more multicultural reality than what any of us can experience anywhere on this earth.

~ Scripture Verse: Revelation 5:9-10

2) Invitation to be an Intercessory Missionary and to Join the Night Watch

~ Practicing 24/7 prayer here on earth so that when we get to heaven we will be used to it and look forward to it (Revelation 4)

~ Revelation 21:22-26, Revelation 22:5

3) Reclaiming the Art of Biblical Fasting


WHY THE BLOGGING SERIES? IHOP really messed me up in a good way.  It made my faith so much more of a priority for me.  God taught me so much from this conference.  In 4 days He taught me more than I have learned in the past four months!  He confirmed so many of my searches and gave me assurance for my doubts.  I honestly felt like every time I thought I had maximized the teachings of the Holy Spirit that God showed me something else.  I am blogging because I believe that God meant these lessons to be digested by our generation.  There are many things that God meant personally for me, they are private, individualized instructions and calls to confession and repentance.  Obviously I won’t share those, but I will share the other words God gave me which He confirmed were meant not just for me.  They are meant as encouragement for the faithful and an admonition to wake up for those asleep in their sins.[9]  I share because I believe God wants this generation to move and impact the world.  I believe God wants this generation to be mighty for Him, constantly heading His call.  But I believe it doesn’t start and end with us, no!  I believe our hearts will be joined with the faithful saints of old and with the mighty generation of believers coming after us.  I share these thoughts as an offering to God because I believe the Mennonite church needs revival.  I believe the Catholic, United, Anglican, and Lutheran Church needs revival.  I believe the Baptist and Reformed churches need revival.  I even believe that the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches need revival!  We’ve been stagnant and lukewarm for far too long and God is tired of it![10]  He is calling us to so much, only a fraction of it which He revealed to me.  In the last days He will reveal so much more of His vision to any man or woman who boldly heeds His call and is truly willing to impart those truths to the nations.[11]  Just like Jesus said to Philip when he recognized Christ as Lord and asked that he be able to see the Father “are you for real?  You and I have been tight for so long and yet it’s like you don’t even know Me. Whoa-oh, Baby!  You ain’t seen nothing yet!  You’re going to see so much more than just this.”[12]  In this House of Prayer with the hearts of thousands intertwined with God’s in prayer, worship, and genuine intercession God began to reveal to me the deepest longings of my own heart.  I hope you will also be able to experience such heavenly joy and delightful laughter in your own lives.

CONCLUSION: It’s an understatement to say that I went into IHOP with many prejudices. I went because I was curious – my charismatic experience confined to only a handful of experience of tongues, dreams, and visions.  Having been brought up in churches which do not engage in the gifts and often discouraged by church leaders when I pondered charismatic thoughts with them and shared my own experiences.

I was expecting Holy Laughter, people being slain in the spirit (looking like they were having seizures) and miraculous wonders.  Instead, what I saw was real people who are real in their relationship with Christ – totally sold out on Him.  I had many biases, but God used my lack of understanding in the prophetic to humble me.  I still don’t agree with all of the teachings, but it has left me seeking more.  Unsatisfied with where my years of theological education have left me and wanting my spirit to join fully in God’s unfinished mission.

 I could have chosen to let my inability to fully accept manifestations of the Spirit hinder me and hold me back, but then I never would have experienced Christ’s love impacting over 30,000 young adults all from different walks of life.  I may not understand everything that IHOP stands for, but the Holy Spirit is heavy upon this place.  Come see for yourself.  Come experience rapturous grace and the beauty and mystery in the fact that the Holy Spirit is simply too magnificent to be placed in the box of human comprehension.