Every follower of Christ who seeks God with fasting and prayer can experience sudden and surprising open doors of spiritual opportunity, even if those open doors were never apparent before. It has happened in Scripture and it has happened to me. I am certain it will happen for many others as well.


A prayer summit, involving a handful of key leaders, opened unexpected doors as the leaders were worshipping, fasting, and praying. Paul and Barnabas, and 3 other gifted and significant leaders had been in the midst of a genuine city-wide spiritual awakening in Antioch for well over a year. Hungry to know the steps they were to take next, they pulled away from the day to day ministry to hear from God.

The Holy Spirit spoke to them clearly and gave them a vision and a direction they had apparently never considered before. At least 10-15 years had passed since the Resurrection had occurred, and since the Great Commission had been issued, but no one had made any substantial efforts to reach the Gentile world yet. While the devoted team fasted and prayed, however, a new door suddenly opened. The Spirit clearly directed them to spread the gospel to Gentiles.


That unexpected open door led to what we commonly call Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-4). The world was permanently changed out of that prayer meeting when a new door opened as God’s people fasted.


Open doors always swing wide to reveal God’s continuing plan to save more people. It happens when we fast and pray. Recently it happened to me as I was participating in a city-wide call to 40 Days of fasting and prayer. While the open door I experienced obviously cannot compare to Paul’s call to world evangelism and missions, it was, nevertheless, an exhilarating and eye opening opportunity for ministry I never saw coming. The more I considered what God was doing in my life, the more my mind raced with faith, fresh ideas, and vision for our church and our city. There is no doubt in my mind this door burst open because several of us were fasting and praying. As this new door of ministry was unexpectedly opening before me I felt, and described it to others, as if I had stepped through a previously unnoticed door, into the blessing of God. 

That’s the way God works. We fast and pray, committing our time and disciplining our bodies, and God blesses us with amazing opportunities for His work which we find to be richly and unpredictably satisfying. When you are in the center of His activity, it seems to be the nearest thing to heaven you ever find on earth.


How can you experience the blessing of open doors? God is sovereign and frequently resists our simple and sometimes self serving formulas-especially if they are an attempt to manipulate how or when He will act. However, since His character never changes, it is possible to glean from Scripture what God expects of us when we desire to walk through open doors of unexpected blessing. Here are three principles to remember.


1) The Holy Spirit can speak to us individually – and He does-but in the New Testament it is far more common to witness a fresh burst of God’s unfolding plan when God’s people were fasting and praying together. So, as you fast and pray, join with other like minded and devoted believers and fast and pray as a group. It’s amazing what God does when we unite.

2) Rick Warren said it best-“it’s not about you!” The unexpected open doors that ultimately bring you the most satisfaction are those which bring the most glory to God. That’s what you want isn’t it? Aren’t you tired of the false promises of a “me centered” faith? Expect and “pray into” the open doors which further the gospel of Jesus and accelerate His mission through you. You will experience far more of God’s best when you focus on His agenda.

3) Always take action-no matter how small the step may be-in the direction God is leading. Paul’s first trip was not really that far from his ancestral home in Tarsus. But that first trip expanded his capacity for more. When the door opens-go through it. Leave the extent of the blessing to Jesus. Just be obedient in the small steps and He will likely broaden your path in the future.


When we fast and pray we put more spiritual “octane” on our service and ministry to the Lord. Fasting and prayer boosts the intensity of everything we do for Jesus. In addition, fasting and prayer helps us recognize the open doors God places before us. Why wouldn’t we want all of this?

If you have rarely or never fasted before, seek some practical guidance, start from where you are, then pray and believe.  Ask God to use you as never before as the doors begin to open!




The miracles accomplished in Scripture were often directly related to fasting. One of the most remarkable examples is found in the biblical story of Esther. When the entire Jewish race was facing genocide, Esther called the Jewish people to a 3 day fast (Esther 4:16).

The results were incredible and the Jewish people were saved from extinction almost 500 years before the birth of Jesus. Every year the Jewish people still celebrate the miracle of deliverance described in the book of Esther. The festival is called Purim which involves gift giving, parties, and good food preceded by a day of fasting. Purim is March 11-12 this year. This is a great time to be reminded that God-through fasting and prayer- can change our problems into praises.

While Christians do not traditionally celebrate Purim, the miracle detailed in Esther is part of our spiritual history too, and we should recognize the power of fasting and prayer to change the direction of problems that appear insurmountable. When life looks out of control it’s time to fast and pray.

Actions in the story of Esther saved the Jewish people. How? There are two principles taught in Esther’s story that can still be true in your story.

1) The first principle almost has to be practiced to be believed. Fasting creates a culture of change. In Esther 4:14-17, Esther had become the Queen while keeping her Jewish religion confidential. Meanwhile, a law had been passsed to kill every Jew. One of her relatives-Mordecai- gets Word to her secretly to do whatever she can to stop the killing of her people. Although she was the Queen, she had no real power or authority. She needed a miracle because the law was out of her hands and circumstances were out of her control. So what did she do? She called a 3 day fast. “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)

Scripture is clear. It was the fast that triggered the change in circumstances that eventually led to the reversal of the evil planned against God’s people. Fasting always creates a climate for change.

Are there circumstances in your personal life or in your family that appear to be out of your control? Perhaps they are out of your control but nothing is outside of God’s control. He still changes things that seem to be unchangeable. Individuals, families, cities and nations can still be changed by the power of God when His people fast and pray.


I have also noticed when I fast and pray the will of God seems clearer and God often surprises me with the unexpected. Perhaps it’s because my faith is more acute during a fast, and my spirit is more receptive to what God is already doing all the time. Lisa Bevere insightfully recognized this phenomenon when she said, “A diet changes the way you look. A fast changes the way you see.” Is it time for you to see your problems differently? Try fasting and prayer.


God can change your problems or He can change the way you recognize His solutions, but either way fasting and prayer always creates change.

2) The second principle found in the miracle of Esther is needed as much today as it was back then. Fasting creates the courage for change.

Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)

Some problems back us into a corner where we see no way out unless God intervenes. Esther was in that kind of dilemma. She had one option and if it failed she could have been executed. It was the 3 day fast that emboldened her to take the risk. She said, “…hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)

The culture of fasting always activates the courage for change. A few years ago I did a long fast in order to deepen my walk with God. During those days the Lord did a strong work in my life in which He challenged me. Honestly, at times I didn’t understand why the Lord was dealing with me in a way which at the time seemed severe. But the next few years required a spiritual resolve on my part that was developed as I had persevered through that difficult time of testing and correction, during the long fast. I have always believed since that I could not have faced the challenges of some hard years had I not gone through “the refiners fire” of the fast. God knows what we need before we need it and before we know it! Fasting develops spiritual courage and motivates us to take action even when there is risk involved.

Do you need a burst of spiritual courage to take action on your convictions? If so, fast and pray and watch God work in your life.

As we fast and pray for 40 days there’s still plenty of time for you to join us. Sign up for a day or more and expect God to take action in your personal life, in your family, and in the world around you. Expect the unexpected because when you do, change is on the way!

Sign up at hpbc.org/40days