Home Columnist Prayer and Fasting: Keys to Set The Captives Free (Part 1) by John Abiola

Prayer and Fasting: Keys to Set The Captives Free (Part 1) by John Abiola

by Church Times



“And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.(Mark 9:29).

Prayer and fasting are two forces, that nothing can withstand, (this is in accordance with biblical principles and standards). In Genesis 3:1-24, Adam and Eve, the first man and woman on earth were enjoying an intimate relationship with God in the garden of Eden, until they fell into Satan’s deceptions. They gave in to temptation, committing the sin of disobedience.

 By eating the forbidden fruit, they not only lost this relationship with God but also lost their God-given dominion.

 Adam and Eve and their descendants (human race) became captives of Satan on earth. This is the origin of the fall of man, until Jesus Christ, the second Adam came. He rejected and overcame the deceptions of Satan to create and eat bread out of stone at the tempter’s suggestion. He completed his prayer and fasting and proceeded to restore all that Adam and Eve lost (Matthew 4:1-11).

  In Matthew 17:14-21, when Jesus’s disciples asked Him why they could not heal the lunatic, He told them, ” Howbeit this kind goeth not but by prayer and fasting”.

 Jesus’ answer to His disciples proves the power in prayer and fasting to make impossible situations possible. It also proves that there are stubborn demons, yokes and strongholds in our lives and our churches, communities, and nations which if taken lightly will refuse to bulge.

 Thanks be to God, that we the children of God still have the power to break such strongholds, which by  prayer and by fasting. 

Prayer and fasting, a discipline and principle

Prayer, especially with fasting is a discipline and principle, that many Christian have neglected. While some remember to say a few words of prayer once or twice daily, many forget fasting as a discipline which ought to be in place in a Christian’s life.

While it is unscriptural to prescribe fasting without the prompting of the Holy Spirit, it is yet undeniable that there are some forms of spiritual oppression, or plans and purposes of God such as revival and awakening in communities, nations, or churches which requires prolonged prayers and fasting before a breakthrough can be attained.

 Prophet Anna, who received the revelation of the coming of Jesus went with a burden of prayer and fasting for the redemption of humanity. She prayed for over sixty years before seeing the fulfillment of her vision. Luke 2:36-38.

 In our modern world and even in ancient times, mankind has faced inexplicable problems that the ordinary human mind cannot explain.

 Therefore, we need to tell these problems to God. He is the one who has power higher than man; the one who can supernaturally intervene in our situation. The only way to link with God is through prayer.

 Prayer and fasting move mountains and set captives; people, communities, and nations, free. In the days of old prayer and fasting moved mountains. The good news is that they still move mountains today.

God will hear us

As we come into God’s presence with our requests, He promises to hear us, and answer our prayers. So, let us grab this opportunity as we operate in the new covenant which is better than the old covenant.

 Matthew 17:14-21 “And when they  come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,

 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for oftentimes he falleth into the fire, and oftentimes into the water.

 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil, and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

 19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove, and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

 In the verses of the scripture above, the Lord Jesus Christ establishes the power of prayer and fasting to set captives free in the battles of life.

 Without mincing words, he declared that certain kinds of life’s problems will never stop their onslaught on our destiny and nation’s destiny until we use the power of fasting and prayer.

 Prayer and fasting were practiced by our Lord Jesus Christ and other saints that lived before us. Therefore we are expected to follow in their footsteps if we desire to live a victorious Christian life in this world and also if we want our community, nation, or church to experience transformation.

 Prayer and fasting are two powerful weapons that are provided for us as we journey through life. To help us understand the importance of these, each of them will be separately discussed, after which a general analysis will be made on both.


Prayer is one of the greatest assets every believer in Christ has. It is one of the most important benefits or rights God has provided for us His children. Prayer is a medium, through which God seeks to hear our voice, while He in turn talks back to us, revealing His will and His plans for our lives, churches, and nations.

 Considering the importance of prayer in our daily life, it is only proper that a clear definition of prayer is made for better understanding.

 Prayer in a nutshell is communicating with God. This basically entails inviting God into our hopeless situation.

 God already knows you; He knows your problems but He expects you to speak to Him with His words concerning your problems.

Go to God with His words

 Therefore whenever, you set out to pray, God expects you to arm yourself with His words, nothing moves God like His words. For He said in Hebrew 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”.

 Prayer as it has been explained is the most powerful weapon to set the captives free. Yet, it is not every prayer that set captives free from satanic bondages or unlocks miracles.

 Matt.7.7 – Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

 In the above Scripture, Jesus teaches us that if we ask, we will receive.  However, we have observed that it is not all that ask that receive, not all that call, God answers. One may ask why is this so.

 There are many things that can be responsible, one of which could be one’s attitude to prayer.

Also, sin hinders prayer. At times, the devil stubbornly withstands us in prayer, and other times it could be that God is trying to attract our attention to something He wants us to know or learn before He answers.

 Or probably the answer or whatsoever we need may not be good for us, so at times like this, He uses delay to make us discover His will for our lives. Jer.33.3.

Acceptable attitude in the place of prayer

 At this juncture, it is important that I point out the attitudes that are acceptable in prayer, these attitudes or steps will help you to pray through so that you don’t get frustrated because of wrong attitudes or motives.

It is a known fact, proven over the years that prayer generates power. However, this power is meant only for the true children of God. It is for born-again believers that are in right standing with God.

 Yes! Prayer is the breath of the regenerated spirit. It is only for the righteous. The Bible says, “Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death


“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people”,  “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”,

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is his delight…The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous” (pro. 15:8,29  Pro. 10:12;14:34 and James 5:16).

 These verses tell us that sin is an obstacle to answers to prayers, and that the prayer of a sinner/wicked is an abomination unto God. The only prayer from a sinner that God can listen to is the prayer of repentance. Besides this, any sinner that thinks he is praying to God for blessings, health, or deliverance from any kind of problem is only indulging in unprofitable labour.

  Isa.59.1 -2 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:

  But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

 Mark.11.25 – And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

 Col.3.12 -13 “Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man has a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye”.

The place of praise

Aside from sin, an attitude of ingratitude can also hinder our prayers from being answered. When the disciples of Jesus Christ asked Him to teach them how to pray in Luke 11:1-2 -,”And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

  And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, ‘Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth”.

 This scripture vividly points out that prayer must be preceded by praises.


Again in Psalms 100:4, the Psalmist says, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise”

 “Let us come before his presence with Thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms”(psalms 95:2)

 “speaking to yourself in psalms and hymns “(Ephesians.5:19).

 Each time you want to have communion with God, the easiest way to secure His presence is through praises (especially psalms and hymns).

  He delights in the praises of His people. Therefore, as you sing praises to Him, He will take delight in it, and as you gladden His heart, He will fight your battles, strongholds will be broken, demons will be dislodged, more also packages you need from Him will be released.

 In the Old Testament, the weapon of praise was used by many saints of old, David the man, whom God called His friend, sang his way into God’s heart.  

 In 2Chr.20:1 -30.  Jehoshaphat used the weapon of praise to overcome his enemies.

Prayer, not to kill human enemy

 In the New Testament, in this present Church age, we shouldn’t pray and sing praises to God to come down and kill human enemies but to deliver us from evil, captivity, and evil spirits.

God warned in, Ephesians.6.10-12, 1 John 1:9-11 and Ezekiel 3:18.

 Since the ’80s, there has been an increase in unbiblical and unscriptural prayers with fasting focused on human enemies, persecutors, slanderers and not the devil, demons, and sins that have spread out around the world from Africa specially from Nigeria, this I call “Charismatic Witchcraft  Prayers And Fasting”.

 The spirit of fear, strife, complaint, vengeance, hatred, bitterness and unforgiveness has possessed the church. So much of human enemy-killing prayers have choked the Church.

 In fact, it’s what church members are willing to earnestly pray for when they gather to meet. Trust me, the energy in the church today is different when prayers of this kind are raised.  Targeting evil against perceived human enemies is the same as witchcraft.

 God said in, 1Sam.15.23 – For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness(divination and presumption) is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee…”

The only difference is that at the end of such demonic prayers, we add “In Jesus’ Name”. Which Jesus, please???

 Truth is that we lack LOVE in the church today, yes we do! Because if we really Love, we would pray for everyone, irrespective of whether they are our enemies, persecutors, or slanderers.

 Yes, oh yes, The Bible tells us that GOD IS LOVE. Therefore if God is love and we don’t show LOVE, then we don’t have God, and neither do we know God. Jesus explained that true Love is evident when we love those that are our enemies.


 “Ye have heard that it hath been told, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.(Mathew 5:43-36).

 If we really Love as we claim to do, we would rather attack the spirits, sins, and strongholds ruling the helpless life of that perceived enemy.

 If we love as we claim to do, we would put ourselves in the shoes of that human enemy of ours. We could ask ourselves some questions, what if I am the one someone else is praying to God to kill, destroy, exterminate?

 That you were miraculously saved does not mean you should despise and seek the destruction of an unsaved person or those that persecute you. And trust me, you might just be someone else’s enemy.

 So imagine God answering someone’s earnest prayers for your death and sorrow.

 Pastors, prophets, and ministers in church today boast about how they prayed for death against the enemies in members’ lives, and the following week, members’ relatives die, then they come to church to testify and everyone starts jumping, jubilating, shouting “Hallelujah”.  Nothing excites us as much as this.

 Haaaa. Isn’t this a thing of shame and witchcraft?

Did Jesus tell us to do that? For Jesus said: The popular saying goes, “an eye for an eye”, “a tooth for a tooth”, but now I say, “if your neighbor slaps your left cheek, turn the right to him too, if he takes your shirt, give him your cloak too.”

Where did we hide such messages of Jesus?

 Obviously, we declare God as Lord (master) over our life but don’t treat Him the same. We don’t believe God to fight our battles. No, we don’t trust him to protect us from evil.

 We don’t think He knows how to render judgement and justice. No, we believe He is partial and would not help us unless we help ourselves. We believe it’s our fasting, prayers, and how many enemies, persecutors and slanderers we’ve killed and destroyed that makes us see each day.

 We don’t trust God to that extent, we only follow Him with our lips, not with our hearts. So sad but true.

Here are true life stories, copied from Capro magazine, volume 30 number 2:

“Several villages in Congo, along Lake Tanganyika can never be reached without boats. To get to this location a light aircraft to drop materials and missionaries would be needed, and four-wheel drive vehicles, because of the terrain.

“Gospel materials would be needed, to make the Gospel clearer to the average person, she (a missionary) was caught up alone in a thundering storm at night.

“The river had overflowed its banks. By faith, she forded through the river. Having lost her track in the bush and unable to see, she prayed for light, and the Lord sent a light from the sky to lead her home.”

 Another missionary lady had wandered into a village in the course of her survey of unreached peoples in the north of Nigeria.

Knowing no man, she asked for a place to stay. The villagers talked to themselves and offered her accommodation in the house of a notorious witch in the village. It was from there she was going out to do her work of the Lord.

 When the day of her departure came, the witch stopped her and asked, “Who are you?. “I am a child of God,” the missionary replied. The witch said, ” Since the day you came I have been influencing your food but nothing has happened to you, and I could not fly out”.

 This woman gave her life to Jesus and died in that village as a Christian. If this is not the power of God, what then is it?. This is the real power of God made manifest.

 Another missionary had crossed a deep river without a boat. Trapped, he said to God. “Where are my sands?” Sands came up for him and he crossed over. The same missionary escaped the fury of lions as he trekked through the wild to locate unreached people, at Nigeria’s border with Cameroun. The lions by the track gazed and roared at him, and could do nothing more than that. He passed by and continued on his journey.”

God’s presence through praises

 God’s presence comes down through praises to bring deliverance from all kinds of satanic bondages, afflictions, and demons.

 No matter how tough or stubborn a problem may prove to be, never murmur against God in your trials, challenges or oppositions, rather continue to praise Him from the depth of your heart, and as you keep on praising Him you will certainly be delivered from satanic bondages and will obtain your breakthroughs.

The Bible recorded that in Acts.16.25 -36,

‘And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

  ‘And suddenly there was a great earthquake so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bands were loosed..

 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying, Let those men go.

 ‘And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace.

 In 1Corithians 10:10 Paul warned us, “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer”.

 Like it was pointed out earlier, there are times that the devil will stubbornly stand in our way like he stood against Daniel. For times like this, we need to persist in prayer, relentlessly praying until we obtain answers. In fact, this is when we need to apply the weapon of fasting. Daniel.9:3 -23; 10:4-14.

 It is important that you know that prayer may encounter difficulties. At times like this, take time to examine yourself, to know if you are living in sin or probably have carelessly fallen in sin without confessing it.

 After you have completely examined yourself, confess such sin to God, but if you discover there is no sin, then you have to tighten your belt and get ready for the battle.

 As you continue to fight and use the name of Jesus Christ, the blood of Jesus, and the word of God, you will certainly be victorious. Read psalms 50:15; psalms 51.

The place of fasting

 Just as all prayers are not acceptable to God, the same applies to fasting. In Zechariah.7.3 -13 God denounced selfish fasting; there He said,.” Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts”.

 Also in Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus Christ cautioned His disciples about hypothetical fasting. For the hypocrites who fast to attract human intention, Jesus said, ” They have their reward”.

 Importantly, when praying and fasting, you should be sure that your fasting and prayer are according to God’s plan and purpose for your life.

 Be willing to accept God’s will as He reveals it to you. If your fasting and request are deliberately out of harmony with God’s will then apparently your motives for fasting may be selfish and God cannot answer such prayers. Ezekiel 14:1-23.

 A good illustration of this is the account of David when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then contrived the death of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah. Here David deliberately arranged the death of Uriah so that he could marry Bathsheba who had become pregnant for him.

 Eventually, David had his way, he killed Uriah, marries Bathsheba and they had a son. But this child took ill.  David sensed that the child may die, so he embarks on one week fasting and prayer. He thinks his fasting will change God’s plan. God had earlier told him about the child’s death but he goes ahead to fast.

 His motive for fasting and prayer was purely selfish, he was seeking to force providence to make things look right for him. Therefore God never answered him; he fasted in vain, as the child eventually died. Read 2 Samuel 12:1-23.

 Fasting simply means abstaining from food and every normal pattern of living for a period of time. Fasting humbles the soul before God.

“But as for me when they were sick my clothing was sackcloth, I humbled my soul with fasting, and my prayer returned into my own bosom”.(Psalms 35:1-3).


Fasting chastens the soul; “When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my own reproach”.(Psalms 69:10).

 Fasting crucifies the appetite for food and it manifests earnestness before God excluding everything else. “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourself to fasting and prayer, and come together again”.(1Corinthians 7:5).     

 Fasting demonstrates man’s mastery over his appetite for food. It also aids in curbing temptation; helps to gain authority over demons; helps to develop faith; crucifies the flesh, and aids prayer.

 Believers are expected to fast, but no regulation or set rules are given as to how long or how often; This can be determined by the Holy Spirit, individual desire, and needs.

 “Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but their disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, can the children of the bridechamber mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then they shall fast”.(Mathew 9:14-15).

Now as believers await the second coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we ought to pray and fast to enable us to commit ourselves to the task before us, and to overcome sins, evil desires, and the forces of darkness who try to refuse us triumph. (1 Peter 4:7).


John Abiola

Revive Us Again series 67.




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