Do you need to make a decision? If so, do you ever feel unclear about what you should do? You’re not alone.  Today we often suffer from choice fatigue and decision overload. We have so many options, narrowing down the best path can open us up to less clarity and more confusion. What should you do when you need a clear direction but you’re faced with fog?
In addition to asking for advice, making lists of pros and cons, and praying about it, have you ever considered the role that fasting could play in helping you find clarity?
I was a college student the first time I attempted to fast. I did a water fast for 2 days. It was exhilarating. I felt hungry but I also experienced the mild euphoria and spiritual boost associated with fasting and prayer. It’s counterintuitive but fasting makes us feel better (even though we’re aware of our hunger).
It’s not unusual to experience clarity and sharper focus during a day or more of fasting and prayer. One of the first books I ever read on prayer mentioned fasting. The author had fasted 17 days and received a fresh vision for his ministry. As a new follower of Christ, I was shocked when I read that because I had never known anyone who had ever fasted (except biblical characters and at that time I hadn’t read much of the Bible). I was, however, intrigued by the possibility of connecting with God in a more “tuned in” way.
The next book I read that mentioned fasting was a biography. The author mentioned an even longer fast than the previous author. He claimed at about two weeks into his prolonged fast he was able to easily concentrate on anything for long periods of time. It wasn’t long before I tried fasting and experienced the focus and mental clarity others had described. Why does this happen?
Let’s ask someone who may know. Mark Mattson is a professor of neuroscience in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. His research these days is in the science of fasting. The motivation for Dr Mattson does not appear to be spiritual. He’s interested in the neurological effects and the physical benefits of fasting. As it turns out, there are many.
Dr Mattison believes the evidence demonstrates “fasting several days a week might help your brain ward off neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s while at the same time improving memory and mood.” ( When you eat normally, glucose is stored in the liver and converts to a substance called glycogen which serves as the nutrient that feeds your brain. After about 14 hours without food, the body depletes the glycogen and starts feeding instead on fats which fuel the brain with ketones.
The difference between glucose and ketones is the basis for the popular “keto diet.” The ketones fuel the brain in a different way. You feel “sharper” and more focused. Unfortunately, most Americans never allow their bodies a break from 3 big carb and sugar rich meals a day, supplemented with more sugar, carbohydrate snacks, and soft drinks. As a result, our brains are fueled with glycogen rather than ketones. Think about how you feel after a big Thanksgiving meal. Do you feel sharp and focused or are you ready for a nap because you’re in a “food coma”? It’s a fact, too much food makes us drowsy and fasting sharpens our focus.
When we fast, therefore, in addition to spending more time in Bible reading, worship, and prayer we’re also flooding our brain with a nutrient that leads to more energy, focus, and an overall sense of well being. Why is this important?
Suppose you have a big decision to make and you want to know God’s will. Or, imagine you’re at a crossroad in life and you need God’s guidance. Is fasting helpful? Ask Nehemiah who fasted for days before he decided to leave the security of his life to go rebuild a wall around Jerusalem. “As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”  (Nehemiah 1:4)
Ask Paul. It was while he was fasting and praying with leaders in Antioch that he received the calling to minister to gentiles which defined his life.  “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.’
Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:2-3)
Ask Jesus. After being anointed by the Holy Spirit for public ministry He disappeared into the desert to fast and confront the temptations of the enemy. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”  (Matthew 4:1-2)
Fasting helps clear our minds so we can focus on God’s voice, His call, and His purposes for us. Believers have known about this for centuries. Now neuroscience is helping us understand why and how decisions seem clearer when we fast.
Do you need to get a fresh word from God about your life? Fast and pray. Expect clarity, but more importantly, expect God to speak!





If Misty Edwards was a pop singer she would be the biggest phenomenon in the country. She’s that good. But Misty Edwards doesn’t perform secular music- she’s a worship leader and her albums are praise music- and the music she makes  is some of the best in the world.
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, has a net worth of $104 billion dollars making him the second wealthiest person on earth. According to Business Insider magazine if the average American spends 1 dollar it’s the equivalent of Bill Gates spending $1.06 million dollars. Last year alone,  Bill Gates became $12 billion dollars richer. (
As strange as it might sound, Misty Edwards and Bill Gates have something in common that could affect the way you pray and fast. In fact, just for fun, you can throw the Beatles into the conversation as well.
One of the most interesting authors today is Malcom Gladwell.
He has written 5 books that reached #1 on The  New York Times Best Seller list  ( My favorite is Outliers which examines the question of why some people are immensely more successful than the average person. One of his answers Gladwell calls “the 10,000 hour rule.” He argues that 10,000 hours of doing a thing repeatedly gives you a competitive edge and makes you a virtual expert in whatever venture you’ve been willing to devote the time .
Gladwell uses the Beatles as an example. When they met as teenagers they were an average amateur group of mostly self taught musicians. What distinguished them was their early, long term engagements in little clubs in Hamburg, Germany. It was there- where they played week after week in all night sessions for more than two years, that the group became the tight unit of performers who went on to become the legends they are today. They played live for more than 10,000 hours.
Likewise, Bill Gates grew up with a father who was heavily involved in the early days of the tech industry ( As a result, Bill Gates has had access to computers since he was 13 years old. We assume that is true of most kids now, but Gates was well ahead of his time. As a result, he spent hours a day learning about computers and eventually founded one of the most successful companies in the world. He had spent 10,000 hours learning about computers before anyone had ever heard his name.
Now, what does any of this have to do with Misty Edwards, or your prayer life? When Misty Edwards was 19 she went to Bible College in Kansas City and at that time could play only 4 chords on the piano. At about that same time the International House of Prayer in Kansas City was starting and needed non-stop worship music playing to support those who came to pray. The little group only had 25 players available to cover 168 hours of non-stop prayer and worship every week. Since Misty Edwards knew some chords, and had grown up singing in church, she spent 6-8 hours a day in the prayer room playing her piano and singing. Soon, the four chords she knew became 8, the 8 became 12, and so on ( Today, Misty Edwards is one of the most gifted worship singers with one of the purest sounds in the world. She unknowingly achieved the 10,000 hour rule.
What if you wanted to develop your prayer life beyond the norm? How could you? The answer is arrestingly simple. Pray more. Fast more frequently. Give God more time. Jesus prayed long hours. Luke tells us, “In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).
 I’m planning to pray more during this period of 40 DAYS of Prayer and Fasting. I have committed to a plan for prayer which will include getting up earlier every morning. I know exactly which Bible passages I am going to read each day. I have chosen my days of fasting. I have arranged my schedule to allow much more time in prayer than normal. Why? I am planning ahead to give God my best and make the most of this time in our life as a church.
Can we really pray 10,000 hours? If you start young enough, say at age 20, you can pray 30 minutes a day and hit 10,000 hours in prayer by age 80. That’s not a bad way to spend 60 years. If you’re older than 20 you might need to get caught up so you better get started. There’s no better time to begin than now if you want to reach your goals. Just ask Bill Gates or Misty Edwards!