I love the account of Anna in the book of Luke. Anna was a faithful servant of the Lord. She was a widow advanced in years, and she knew loneliness and held a vulnerable stature in the society. Regardless, Luke says that she had devoted her life to prayer, fasting, and worship night and day. She was always in the temple—one of those “in church every time the doors are open” kind of people. Fasting and prayer were habits she forged for decades. It was a practice—not something tried once and discarded because it didn’t give the results she was looking for.
Her longing was to see the fulfillment of God’s promise for Israel. She fasted and prayed for the coming of the Messiah, day in and day out. And when she came across Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in the temple one day, she immediately recognized by the power of the Spirit that this baby, Jesus, was the One she had prayed for. What enabled her to know this? It wasn’t human knowledge. It definitely wasn’t because He looked the part of a Savior and King; He was a newborn, just 40 days old! Decades and decades of prayer, fasting, and worship had attuned her spirit to God’s. She had an inner witness that told her that He was the One. It was a spiritual impartation, and she received it in faith. Fasting and prayer enabled her to see the answer when it came. And when she saw Jesus, she couldn’t keep it to herself. Luke says she began to give thanks and then told everyone waiting for Israel’s redemption about Jesus.
There is an intimate connection between fasting and prayer. If you are hoping that your fast will just help you lose weight, you’ve already missed the purpose of a new covenant fast. Instead, your fast, coupled with faith-filled prayer, will enable you to see things you wouldn't normally see through the power of the Spirit.
If you allow work or entertainment to fill the times you would normally be eating, then your fast will not be effective. Here's a quick hack on how to not let that time be filled: set an alarm in your phone for all of the times that you would normally engage in the thing you’re fasting. If you’re fasting food, set an alarm for each meal time of the day. If it is television or social media, set alarms accordingly. When the alarm sounds, take time to pray. There is power in pairing fasting with prayer.