Fasting – The Power of Positioning over the Power of Petitioning
In these latter days Father God is searching the earth for prayer. Holy Spirit is stirring the hearts of millions toward prayer in response to Fathers eagerness. This is the forerunner to the restoration of the church to its intended position. As we encounter wave upon wave of the Spirits outpouring we are stirred more and more to hunger after Him. The Great Wall of China is the only man made edifice visible from second heaven, but great wall of prayer that the Holy Spirit is building is seen in the third heaven. The angelic hosts are excited, Father is excited, and Jesus is preparing to receive His bride as the church comes into position hungering and seeking after Him. As Joel prophesies about the final days, the outpouring and the restoration he calls three times His people to fasting in His house, first to mourning as the earth quakes and the heavens tremble, then to repentance with all our hearts so the land is refreshed and His Spirit poured out.
God responds to a church that is hungry for Him (and I do not mean lacking food), I mean those who have tasted His sweetness once and are desperate for more.
Over and over again in scriptures we see His promises towards those who SEEK His face, HUMBLE themselves, PRAY and TURN from their wicked ways. He looks for, indeed cries out for, those who earnestly SEEK Him in prayer, and demonstrate their total desire to be with Him in obedience, humility and service – all of this is acceptable worship. We see in scriptures and the annals of history how He responds to SEEKERs. In this session we will look at our ministry to Him in fasting and explore His desire and responses.
When I look at what Father is doing in the world and His church with prayer, I see Him raising a church that demonstrates to the world, to a nation, to a town to a neighbour the power of prayer from those willing to wholeheartedly seek Him. I believe He is preparing the church to lead governments to call the nation to call upon the Name of Jesus. As I look at the escalation of prayer initiatives on the web and in the media, I can also see following initiatives within the global church for periods of fasting. Often led by prayer ministries in times of crisis. They are rising and I believe will escalate just like prayer to something that governments may one day call a nation too, but I expect prayer to come first.
However, the church is in training to return to HER calling as the Bride of Christ, praying, fasting and seeking the return of the Bridegroom. While He is away we are expected to fast and prepare for His return. The final training is going to be intense and accelerate, get yourselves ready, understanding HIS desire for a Bride preparing and seeking His return and His face.
The session is called “ ‘Waiting’ upon the Lord in Fasting” –and I am using the word waiting to identify with a perfect waiter/ress who seeks to serve the guest. I have been impacted by this aspect of fasting as I have read God Catchers – although Tommy Tenney was not talking about fasting – but it described so well what I was gleaning from the Word on the subject.
I would like to give credit to the other sources for this study – The Wonderful Word of God is foremost – There are in fact very few books solely on Fasting which given the associated power with the practice is astounding. There are two I have read several times over the years
Shaping History through Prayer and Fasting – Derek Prince
Gods Chosen Fast – Arthur Wallis
A more recent publication has been a good motivator.
The Hidden Power of Prayer and Fasting – Mahesh Chavda
There are over 500,000 pages on fasting on the web, 112,000 listings of National Fasting related pages. Regrettably many are duplicates, many are related to fasting in the Muslim world, but there were some good Christian teachings on line and I have to say some a little weird. The web can be a blessing but some of the stuff really needs a lot of background research. Check the scripture references they use particularly I found one page that referred to fasting on new moons listed a whole load of scriptures that supposedly supported the teaching and only one actually mentioned new moons. What I am trying to say is don’t ignore the resource but take care.
What is Fasting?
The abstinence of food
- with a spiritual purpose.
The Greek word for fasting is nesteia – a compound of ne (a negative prefix) and esthio which means “to eat”. So the basic root meaning of the word simply means not to eat” The Hebrew word is oni.
Why did people in the Bible “not eat”. The clue is in Leviticus 16v 29 – “This shall be a statute forever for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do not work at all … for on that day the priest shall make atonement for you…”
This is also repeated in Leviticus 23:27 and is The Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur – this year it is on the Jewish calendar 6th.October 2003. It is the only Biblically mandatory fast. We will look at other fast celebrated by the Jews later.
Fasting is literally denying my self, not only my body, but also my wants. It is saying that food and my desires are secondary to something else. In fact it is really SOMEONE else. The something else is seeking and waiting upon Him often done in prayer and reading the scriptures. I would encourage you when you look up the scripture references to see how often prayer and scriptures are referred too.
There are occasions when it is not obvious that prayer or reading of scriptures is associated with fasting. In fact they may not have been, but I believe it is Gods intention and revelation from elsewhere in scripture that this be the norm. The examples I think of are where fasting is associated particularly with mourning. These fasts may be a natural outcome of a loss of appetite associated with grieving. However, what more appropriate need and time is there to seek the presence of the Comforter who is a prayer away and revealed in the Word. Also there are times when fasting is enforced due to famine, again an appropriate time to turn to the Father who will supply all our needs.
In Judges 20 we see an incredible set of events relating to Israel seeking the Lord in regard to a war with the Benjamites. A fantastic act/ prayer of agreement in verse 1 as they all stood before the Lord at Mizpah, 400,000 of them armed and ready to do battle with the rest of the tribe united as one man (v11). What a great number.
What happens v21 – 22,000 of the tribe of Judah were slain by the 26,000 of Benjamin – but God had told the tribe of Judah to go first into battle?
Were they discouraged? NO they had been obedient to God and therefore it says in v22 they encouraged themselves and went before the Lord again and wept, and He said GO TO BATTLE AGAIN. Surely victory is theirs?
Another 18,000 Israelites are slain in verse 25.
They knew God had told them to go to battle. So they exercised the principle of PERSISTENT prayer and came to WAIT on the Lord again. They spent a DAY in fasting as a nation v26, and inquired of the Lord again. They receive the promise of final victory tomorrow in v28. In verse 35 the Lord defeats Benjamin and the rest of the chapter recounts the annihilation of the Benjamites.
Victory was theirs from the first word of the Lord, but they had to persistently seek the Lord, remain in faith, and wait on the Lord in fasting before they remained in triumph after claiming the victory the Lord had already declared. The place beyond victory is triumph. Victory is being able to defeat the enemy. Triumph is when you come out of the battle with more than you had before! God wants to give you more.
What Fasting is Not
Asceticism Col 2:20-23,
Colossians 2 seems to indicate that fasting is fruitless. It is of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. Indeed, on it’s own there is no value. Because unless we turn our attentions away from self denial to WAITING on Him, there has been no purpose.
There have been many who practice fasting just as a religious act, to loose weight, to look good in front of men. We will touch on the right motives and attitudes for fasting later. But Father is looking on the heart and purpose and rewards correct motives
Fasting does not twist Gods arm. It is not a hunger strike that would influence God. There are hunger strikes going on around the world at this moment in time, to influence Governments about war, about refugee policies, to influence employers about wages, and prison governors about prisoner’s rights. It used to be a popular form of protest in the UK but is less prevalent, perhaps we have grown too comfortable, perhaps God is preparing us to demonstrate the true meaning of fasting and removing the stigma of hunger strikes.
2 Samuel 12:15-23 David fasted when the child he had via Uriah’s wife became ill. The child died. David had sinned and Nathan had prophesied the child’s death, but assured David that the Lord had forgiven his sin. David could not twist Gods arm in this way, however I think he had the right motive and a faith in a gracious God.
Acts 23:12-14 “And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul….”. Praise God they were not successful. Their act of agreement without Gods leading, their fast without seeking God, could not bring into being their evil desires.
When - Not IF - Matthew 6:16-18
Obedience to Gods Word Joel 2:12, 2 Cor 6:4-6, Mark 2:20
To humble ourselves before God to gain His grace and power James 4:10
Overcome temptation Luke 4
Purification/Repentance Dan 9:3-5, Jonah 3:5-10
Because Jesus did, the early church did
The patriarchs did
The most important reason for fasting is because Jesus expected it of us. He taught on three key areas of Christian life in Matthew 6 and used the starting phrase, when you give alms, when you pray, when you fast. Not if you give alms, or pray or fast. But WHEN. Jesus talked about all of these things being “done in secret” – i.e. with the right attitude. Matthew 6:16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
Jesus speaks here primarily about attitude and reward. Fasting is not for show, but it is for a purpose.
2 Corinthians 6:4-5 “But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in labours, in watchings, in fasting’s; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love……”
Paul clearly saw it as a requirement of ministry.
Mark 2:20 “But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.”
With Jesus there in their midst they did not have far to seek Him, they were in His presence. But He expected them to seek Him earnestly with fasting when He returned to heaven.
So why did Jesus fast for 40 days in the wilderness. We cannot be certain of the reasons. I expect He wanted to seek His Fathers face, waiting on Him to see what the Father wanted Him to do. He was full of the Spirit when he went into the wilderness Luke 4:1, and he came out in the POWER of the Spirit Luke 4:14.
What about the verses in between. We note v2 “he was hungry”. I expect after 40 days he was. He was probably physically weakened, and undoubtedly susceptible to the first temptation to change stones into bread. But he had been feeding on the word of God for forty days and could say to the devil with assurance of experience “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word of God”. He could hold up the rod of testimony.
I expect he had spent 40 days worship and yielding to the Father. By experience he could say to the devil “You shall worship the Lord Your God, and Him only shall you serve.”
And by experience he could also say “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”. He could have sought to change the Fathers mind on his destiny of the cross. He could have doubted his position or authority. But he had spent 40 days listening to the Father. He knew for certain “You shall not tempt the Lord your God”.
He won the battle despite, or even because of his physical weakness at that moment in time. He won because he had waited on the Father, and had listened to Him.
Daniel 9:3-19 – “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, and said “O Lord, great and awesome God… we have sinned … neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets … to us belongs shame of face … according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away … cause Your face to shine upon on Your sanctuary … O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act ..”
This is a model prayer we could use for our nation, and for other nations. Daniel identified with the sins of the people and came before Father God in repentance and humility. He stated where he stood, and stated where God stood but pleaded for forgiveness and for Gods face to shine again upon the sanctuary. The angel Gabriel appeared in response to the prayer – the rest you know (or you can read in Daniel 9).
Daniels attitude was right, the outward signs of sackcloth and ashes probably touched the heart of the Father because they truly reflected the heart of the man. He was not doing it for show to man, but as a statement to Father.
We can read in Jonah 3 also how God responded to the people of Nineveh because they corporately fasted and repented of their sin. God is true to His word and forgives those who repent, and spares them from the severity of the judgement that is due for their sin. God did not change His mind, He changed mans mind and heart so He could be Himself – merciful.
Types of Fast
The Normal Fast
The Absolute Fast
The Partial Fast
Secret Fast / Corporate Fast
a. The Normal Fast
In this type of fast the person abstains from food but not water. The duration depends upon what God has called the person to do. Jesus fasted for 40 days Matthew 4:2, Moses did 2 – 40 day fasts Exodus 34:28, Deut 9:9,18. However many of the scriptural examples are 1-3 days – there are many fasting days in the Jewish calendar (probably too many for Gods liking), Day of Atonement Lev 23:27,32 – new moons – 10th Tevet, 9th Av, 17th Tamuz, 3rd Tishrie – and twice every week.
b. The Partial Fast
This is often referred to as a Daniel fast, as it was exemplified by Daniel, Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego when they only ate vegetables, and drank only water for 10 days. He did so to stand undefiled in accordance with the eating regulations of the Jews in the king’s court. He purposed to be obedient before God and God rewarded him with favour and goodwill of the chief of eunuchs. Dan 1:15 and later Daniel 10 himself completed another partial fast for 21 days as he sought for fulfilment of the Word and saw a vision and got the “shaking anointing”v10
c. The Absolute Fast
The absolute fast is one in which both food and water are abstained from. This type of fast cannot exceed 3 days without detriment to health or the supernatural intervention of God.
1 Kings 19:8 is believed to be an example of the exception as Elijah is told by angel of the Lord to eat and drink in preparation for a long journey. It actually says he went in the strength of that food for 40 days. It doesn’t mention drink.
Duet 9:9 Moses went up the mountain to receive the tablets but didn’t get any water to take them with for 40 days and nights (as well as food). Also recorded in Exodus 34:28
Ezra (Ezra 10:6) exampled the absolute fast as he mourned because of the guilt of those in captivity. The length of fast is not stated.
In Esther 4:16 we read “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise…”
d. The Secret Fast / Corporate Fast
Jesus taught that we should not make a show of fasting. Indeed we should wash and anoint ourselves. He taught that God who is in secret will reward openly, so we do not need to parade to all and sundry the fact that we are fasting.
A question. Corporate fasts are very powerful but are they meant to be in secret? I am not suggesting that we should be boastful about partaking, but is there an element where we should identify those who will stand in agreement in this act of seeking God?
The prayer of agreement is powerful, because it is exactly that two or more agreeing the purposes of God for a situation. It is a prayer that cannot be done in the prayer closet, it requires a room with a view and more people. The view being a joint focus on Gods purposes.
When Joel calls for a corporate fast he calls them to the house of the Lord (Joel 1:14), and to weep between the porch and the altar (Joel 2:17). The examples of corporate fast see the people standing together before the Lord. There is no better room with a view on Gods purposes.
Why do we come together to pray and fast? To seek His purposes to WAIT on Him because it says in Amos 3:7 “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants and His prophets”. God reveals and then we can agree Matt 18:19 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.”
The corporate fast I believe touches Gods heart and moves the heavens because people stand TOGETHER in unity, openly and seek the purpose of God.
For a listing of passages on fasting including corporate fasting consult “The Guide to Fasting” by the notice board. Let us specifically look at 2 Chronicles 20.
The people of Moab and the Ammonites came against Jehoshaphat and his response of FEAR mixed with a desire to SEEK the Lord. So he proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah 2 Chron 20:3
“Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord” v13 (the whole tribe just like Joel women and children included) and the Spirit fell upon Jahaziel and he prophesied “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” v15 “Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you” v17
Now Jehoshophat and all the people bowed their heads and worshipped. This was part of their fasting , WAITING and SEEKING God. The outcome was that Jehoshophat appointed those who should sing, and those who should praise as they went to battle. He had heard the Lord on appointments of praise first. There is no record of him hearing God say appoint singers and praisers, but being in the presence of God led to a natural act. The outcome “When they began to sing and to praise the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir .. and they were defeated” v22
Here was an example of the power of praise and worship associated with prayer and fasting.
Not only did they have victory but they had triumph – with much bounty, and the surrounding kingdoms fearing the Lord, so they had rest.
If you want to come out of the battle for Gods purposes through Prayer Week, with the victory established, we need to position ourselves for triumph.
e The Mandatory Fast
As mentioned earlier the only mandatory fast, is that of The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).This is mentioned in Leviticus 23:27 – this year it is on the Jewish calendar 6th.October 2003.
By Jesus time the Pharisees had developed a ritual of fasts - new moons – 10th Tevet, 9th Av, 17th Tamuz, 3rd Tishrie commemorating the destruction of the Temple – and twice every week. Jesus referred to fasting twice a week in the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. Fasting did not benefit the Pharisee because he approached it with pride whereas the tax collector came in all humility and repentance seeking the mercy of God. If we approach fasting with humility WAITING and SEEKING God we will please the Father.
Fasts cannot be imposed upon you. You must seek God about fasting and be practical about it taking heed of the cautionary notes later. When God stirs our leadership to proclaim a corporate fast, or our Government to call a national fast, we are responsible for hearing God as to our role, accepting the authority He has placed over us AND the importance of obedience to HIS word.
Approach & Attitude to Fasting
Sketch – The perfect waiter anticipates the needs of the diner. The pushy waiter is only interested in getting you through the restaurant with the minimum nuisance to him and the maximum profit. Some thoughts from Tommy
What does a human waiter offer a divine customer?
Waiting in Café Heaven is not spiritual thumb twiddling
Learn how to entertain the presence of God.
If you can entertain man whom you can see, there is a potential to host God, who you cannot see
Fasting is about being hungry for an audience with God. To serve Him, it is a ministry unto the Lord Acts 13:2, it is a time of inquiring of the Lord, of seeking Him.
It is time to be the perfect waiter. To anticipate His needs, and His actions. To watch carefully for His word to proclaim release to the captive, to say those prayers of loosing. Let loose, speak out the Word of God and the Name of Jesus for those who are in bondage.
To anticipate when He says break the yoke, let the oppressed go free. When Jesus came out of the desert He knew the Word of God. In Lukes gospel shortly after leaving the wilderness he reads “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me, to preach good news to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19 I do not know how soon He preached that message after leaving the wilderness, its just God incidental that it follows so soon in Lukes account of Jesus’s 40 day fast and mirrors so closely the call of Isaiah 58 – the desire of Father in fasting.
Don’t forget the practical – I am challenged – it says to bring the poor into our houses, to share our bread and cover the naked.
It also requires us to take away the yoke from our MIDST, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of wickedness.
THEN our light shall break forth.
THEN our healing will spring forth.
THEN the glory of the Lord will be our rear guard
THEN He will hear our prayer
THEN He will satisfy us in drought etc.
WE shall be called REPAIRER of the BREACH, the RESTORER of streets to DWELL IN.
As we pray and fast for our nation, if we adopt the right attitudes, approach and behaviour these are some fantastic promises.
The principle is not new. We know so well that God desires our humility, seeking and repentance before He will heal our land.
2 Chron 7:14 “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray (palal – to intercede, to ask someone more powerful and wise to intervene on behalf of the one who is praying) and seek My FACE, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will…… “
That verse is not specifically about fasting. Fasting aids us in prayer. It intensifies prayer. It ensures we have more time for seeking (instead of eating). It focuses our minds on WAITING for Gods answer. You would be surprised at how many times corporate fasting in the Bible relates to repentance. Read the Word.
The beginning of Isaiah 58 talks about the fast God does not appreciate. He does not want our piety or our religious behaviour, even though those He was talking too sought Him, they did it for the wrong reasons.
In Zechariah 7:5 God asks the people whether their fast was even unto Him? If God has asked you to fast He should not have to ask you that question unless you approach it totally the wrong way.
When Joel called a fast he clearly said “Set it apart FOR God” We are not doing this to get answers for ourselves, to seek personal gain, but to find the presence of God and serve Him.
Jeremiah 29:13-14 “When you seek Me with all your heart, I will be found by you”
Joel 2:12 “Yet even now .. return to Me with all your heart and fasting .. “
James 4:8-10 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let you laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
Our bodies (flesh) can hinder us in seeking God. The body craves food and attention all the time. Fasting helps us bring our body under control and is a clear demonstration to God we mean business. Not eating has the practical benefits of releasing time for prayer (upto 2 hours per day).
Reasons to Fast
Waiting upon God
A Ministry Unto the Lord
Personal Sanctity - humbling
To avert danger and secure victory in battle
To free the captives
To deliver, for revelation,
For health and healing
In the Last Days – outpouring, restoration of church, return of Jesus
Fasting precipitates the Latter Rain
Earlier we covered some of the points above but I have restated them to remind us of some of the reasons (not all) why God may CALL us to fast.
a. Humility is the basic ingredient of holiness. We need to humble ourselves. David did it with fasting. Ps 69:10
Pride and full stomachs are referred to in conjunction with sin in the Bible. The sin of Sodom as well as homosexuality was surfeit of food Ezekiel 16:49 If you look around the Western world you see the same sins bedding down together. So God sometimes leads us into fasting (voluntary and involuntary) to humble ourselves. David said Ps 69:10 “I humbled my soul with fasting”. Moses reminded the Israelite “He humbled you and let you hunger… “ Duet 8:2-3 . Ezra proclaimed a fast that the people might humble themselves before God Ezra 8:21.
1 Peter 5:5-6 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” Do you want lifting out of Prayer Week a better person than when you went in? Humble yourselves.
When we humble ourselves we become aware of our failings / sins which will lead to mourning. That is why you will often see the Israelites mourning as well as fasting.. We are moved beyond mourning our personal sins onto those of our church, nation and world. We share the feelings of Father when we get close to Him in times of fasting, we cannot help but grieve over the state of mankind. After this comes consecration of ourselves to Gods work of bringing the good news and release.
a. Deliverance – Isaiah 58 clearly shows that the preferred fast should include elements of deliverance. Deliverance is part of the ministry of the body of Christ. Isaiah 49:24-25 says that even the captives of the mighty shall be taken.
You will find that a number of translations (NRSV, NIV, NEB) do not include the word fasting, or even the whole verse of the well known passages in Matt 17:21 and Mark 9:29 about deliverance. Some scholars believe the word should be discipline, others believe it was not meant in the original text. This has caused some controversies, and also brings into debate whether those who preach deliverance by fasting can find substantial Biblical support. Neither is fasting mentioned in some translations of Acts 10:30 or I Cor. 7:5 which you can consult at your leisure. Prayer is. So is fasting an essential part of deliverance? Can deliverance only be achieved by fasting?
The church is empowered and commissioned (Matt 9:37-10:1) to bring deliverance. Prayer and faith are essential and fasting helps. Matthew 17 does not report Jesus going away to fast before he cast out the demon, and does not seem to indicate he had come from a time of fasting. That is not to say he had not. What is clear He prayed, and He had faith. If you read all the other accounts of deliverance you will not see fasting mentioned. I do not think the early church waited to fast before they dealt with anybody who needed deliverance. Neither should it hinder us.
There are plenty of examples in history where fasting with prayer has yielded additional power and resulted in deliverance where it had not been achieved before.
Arthur Wallis relates the story of Pastor His in China (he took the name Sheng Mo – conqueror of demons). His wife was overpowered by demons after his conversion and flew into rages whenever the people worshipped. His name brought much ridicule “conqueror of demons”. After prayer with fasting by all his household for three days he laid hands on her and claimed the promises of God and saw remarkable, permanent and lasting deliverance.
Brother Mahesh Chavda whilst working in a home as a care assistant for disabled people was used of God to heal many but one called Stevie. He was possessed by a spirit of self-mutilation. God told Mahesh to fast and then pray, after obedience to this call, Stevie was miraculously released. Pg 5 of Prayer and Fasting.
Why did God call both these men of God, and many others to fast before seeing deliverance? He probably knew the need for humility, submission, and demonstration of total reliance upon HIS power alone. He needed them in that place of holiness which only spending dedicated time confessing, weeping and seeking HIS face brings. He wants us to WAIT on Him.
The prophetess Anna’s life of devoted prayer and fasting. Luke 2:3638. At 84 years never leaving the temple, saw the coming of the Deliverer For All.
When we need revelation of Gods direction in our personal, corporate or national lives, there is only place to be. WAITING on the Lord. Where He moves, when He whispers, we need to be focussed on responding to Him.
When the early church appointed deacons they ministered to the Lord in worship and fasting Acts 13. They chose Barnabus and Saul at HIS command, and laid hands on them after further continuing in fasting v3. If this was in secret they would not have come corporately to hear God and it would not be recorded.
When Daniel wanted to know how long before Gods word was fulfilled Dan 9 he fasted and the angel Gabriel responded.
When Jehoshophat wanted to know whether to go to battle, the nation fasted and the word of the Lord came through Jahaziel.
When Ezra wanted to know the right way to go he proclaimed a fast.
Isaiah 58 :11 shows the outcome of the God chosen fast is continual guidance.
d. Shaping History / Testimonies to the power of fasting.
The “nature of the covenant” between God and Israel was revealed through the Ten Commandments as given to Moses as he fasted on the Mount. 40 days WAITING on Gods revelation changed the history of the Israelites, and revealed to us the covenant keeping nature of the Father.
Nineveh (today Mosul in Iraq) was changed as a result of the fasting and repentance of the people. A reluctantly obedient servant of God, just one like you or I, bought a warning of Gods judgement. They listened to the word and sought His mercy. They responded to His need to be righteous in judgement, but WAITED on His mercy.
We have heard how the Benjamites were destroyed as a result of Israel WAITING on God. The destiny of that tribe was affected, their history was recast. The history of the Ammonites and Moabites was changed because Jehoshophat and the people WAITED on the Lord in fasting.
In 1621 when the church leaders were called to leave Lincolnshire to found the new colonies in America, they fasted before their departure seeking the Lords guidance. They landed in Plymouth, New England and the diaries of William Bradford reveal how the followers of a RESTORATION movement practiced corporate fasting in seeking God. See pg 133 Derek Princes book.
On 1 st June 1774 George Washington called a corporate fast and saw the invasion of Boston averted. In 1795 he called a fast of thanksgiving. In 1815 Madison called a corporate fast and saw victory in the war at New Orleans. In Sept 1861 Lincoln called a fast to see the end of the Civil War. 30 March 1863 Abraham Lincoln called the nation to a fast.
Montgomery the son of an evangelist called the army to prayer before the victory at El Alamein. His appointment and the outcome were results of prayer and fasting. As was the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the end of Stalins rule in 1953. Russian Jews were spared elimination by Stalin, and his daughter professed faith in a crucified Jew.
These are but a few of the events in history which have been changed by prayer and fasting
e. Fasting precipitates the Latter Rain
We have referred to the prophecies of Joel and how fasting is intertwined in the events of the last days.
This will be the ultimate shaping of history, as the church rises to signs and wonders of such magnitude the world will stand up and notice. Do you feel it on the horizon? The church will be restored to that which Christ intended and was partly experienced and demonstrated in Acts, with greater things to follow.
This will be the prelude to His return, when fasting will no longer be necessary. But for now it is.
Joel says afterwards (Joel 2:28) the latter rain will appear. After what – he speaks earlier in the prophecy of total desolation, loss of hope, and every part of Gods people’s inheritance ruined – just like today. No ray of hope, no human solution so God calls them to UNITED FASTING. He calls every individual. He wants total unity. He calls for the trumpet to be blown. This is no secret fast, everyone is going to know about it.
It would be good to have plenty of practice before the final Shofar call.
How to Fast and Break fast
Fasting is like prayer. It is learnt in small steps.
Just as prayer it will possibly become a regular part of your spiritual discipline.
Like prayer there will be seasons of urgency where prayer is not just your daily devotional but a concerted time. Fasting may not just be for a day but for longer.
Reach a personal conviction on the subject through careful Bible study. Just as you received conviction to come into the kingdom, to be baptized, to be filled with Holy Spirit, to pray regularly, to tithe, to come into membership, God will reveal His timing for fasting to be part of your lifestyle.
Enter with a positive faith that God will reward those who ask with right motives. Matt 6:18
Make sure you are medically able to fast before attempting it. Check with your GP if you are medication, pregnant or suffering any infirmity. Do not fast if you are diabetic and on insulin without consulting a doctor. If you are unwell, bring your health before the Lord, the elders and those who will pray and fast for you.
If you have never fasted before, you need to start slow. One meal, one day, 3 days build them up gradually. Always ask God for how long. The length of the fast is less important than obedience. Many are not called to do a full 40 days, don’t try this as your first fast. Try praying for 40 days for an extra 2 hours first, that’s about how much time you would save from preparing meals and eating.
If you are called to fast break yourself in slowly. Try to reduce your food intake for a number of days before. Cut out caffeine two to three days before to help yourself avoid dizziness and nausea.
Expect some dizziness, headache or nausea in the early stages, this can be minimized by following the advice in step 5.
Mix your fast with prayer, time in the Word, praise and or devotional reading. Seek the Lord not the experience of fasting.
Ask God what He wants you to fast for, and write a note(s). This can help avoid going in with a shopping list, when all He wants is for you to WAIT on Him and serve Him. Check out Isaiah 58 and see if the purpose of your fast lines up with Gods concern for others rather than just yourself.
Keep checking your motives concerning your fasts. Hypocrisy and spiritual pride can easily creep in.
Break a prolonged fast gradually with meals that are light and easy to digest. Gorging yourself will make you ill and leave you with an unpleasant memory.
If you can choose to fast when you are not physically active this is ideal. It is even better if you can set an amount of time totally separated unto God.
Avoid too much mental activity before retiring to bed, sleeplessness can be a problem.
You may wish to take small mints to overcome bad breath.
You will become spiritually sensitive whilst fasting. Weigh everything against scripture and plead the blood of Christ for pure and Godward thought and dream patterns.
You will feel the cold more readily. Wrap up a little more.
Drink water when the body demands it. Do not use loads in the hope that it is going to purge your system, you’ll waste a lot of time in the toilet if you do
Avoid acidic fruit juices, or dilute them to avoid upset stomachs
Personally I have found that before any extended period of fasting, i.e. more than 3 days, it has helped to start and end with a partial fast going on fruit juices or soups the day before and after.
The Jews enter their one day fasts with a celebratory meal the night before. Often with breaking of bread, and reciting of scripture. The meal for Yom Kippur can be quite substantial so not advisable before a prolonged fast. However, breaking bread and drinking the cup of the New Covenant is a good start to a short fast.
Biblical Examples of Fasting & Prayer
WHO IS INVOLVED
1 SAMUEL 31:8-13
Saul & his sons, Inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead.
Death of Saul & his sons
2 SAMUEL 12:15-23
Bathseba's child struck with sickness due to David's sin
Repentance, seeking God's grace, praying for the child
Child died, David ended his fast & moved on
2 CHRONICLES 20:1-19
Jehoshaphat & all of Judah
Great army Invading
Dependence on God, unity, sought the Lord, guidance, Acknowledged God's sovereignty, claimed God's promises
God answered & instructed them, God fought the Battle for them, people praised God
EZRA 8:21-23, 31,32
Ezra & exiles of Judah
Returning to Jerusalem, wanted a safe journey
Humility, dependance on God, acknowledged God's sovereignty
God gave them a safe journey and was with them
Esther, Mordecai, & the Jews
Esther going before King to save her people
Sacrificial, assumed responsibility, Prayed for favor
King granted her favor, end result: the Jews saved
Isaiah & nation of Judah
God's rebuking nation for improper attitudes of fasting
Proud, arrogant, self seeking, unjust
contention, strife, striking each other
God's judgement upon Israel has been declared
confesses sins of nation, seeks insight, humility, shame
God answered right away, insight was given to Daniel
People of Ninevah
Jonah proclaimed God's judgement on Ninevah
believed in God, repented, humility
God relented, did not destroy them
Ask the King for permission to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem
weeping, mourning, petitioned God, confession, humility
King granted his request and the wall was rebuilt
Beginning of public ministry
Dependence on God, humility
Church in Antioch
1. worshipping the Lord,
2. commissioning missionaries
lifestyle of fasting & prayer, obedience, preparation
Holy Spirit with them, word of God proclaimed
Paul & Barnabas
appointing and committing Elders
trust in God, dependence, responsibility
Churches leadership raised up
Note: This list is by no means exhaustive. There are more examples in the Bible.