FASTING On the subject of fasting: to the casual observer it means a time of denying oneself food for a season. Usually a set period of time, from one meal to many days, in which they enter some degree of denial of the body’s basic need of nourishment. There are many levels of fasting. To some it is one meal a day, for others it is no food before a certain time each day. To some it will be a “Daniel fast” where they eat no pleasant food. To some it is complete abstinence of food. To some it may be water only, to others it may include juices. To others it is a complete abstinence of all forms of solids and liquids. In whatever form chosen, it cleanses the body and allows the mind to think in a clear state. To the Christian believer fasting is far more than this. It is a disciplining of ourselves in association with prayer, to lift us from our soul realm into a greater awareness of God and of his purposes and presence. It is a time which also may include watching, which is a certain time of denying sleep to one’s self, in order to pray during the night season. Moses ate no food and drank no water as he communed with God for forty days. Ezra fasted to seek, “a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance”…. “So we sought God for this: and he was entreated for us.” To Nehemiah it was a calling together of the people in fasting and repentance. A time of returning to the Lord and to his word. A time of separating from evil as they renewed their covenant with God. Ester fasted and asked God’s favor for herself before her husband, the King. To David it was a time of petition for the life of his child. To Daniel, after understanding the 70 years of judgment had been fulfilled according to the word of Jeremiah the prophet: he fasted and prayed calling upon God to end the captivity of God’s chosen people.
The prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “Is not this the fast that I (God) have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke. Is it not to deal your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out to your house? When you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you do not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth quickly, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then shall you call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry, and he will say, here I am.” The prophet Joel proclaimed the word of the Lord: “Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly. Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breast: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare your people, O Lord, and give not your heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: why should they say among the people where is their God? Then the Lord will be jealous for his land, and pity his people. Yes the Lord will answer and say to his people, behold I will send you corn and wine, and oil, and you shall be
NEW TESTAMENT FASTING Jesus said, Moreover when you fast: Notice: He did not say, Moreover if you fast.In moving forward into the New Testament it is important to understand from what position we now stand. Many believe God will hear them and answer their prayer because they are fasting. They somehow believe if they place their faith in fasting God will hear and answer. This is tragic!God only hears and answers prayers because of our faith in the finished work of the Cross. It is through faith in the name of Jesus! When we put our faith into our fasting, or faith towards any other work of righteousness on our part, we are hindering the release of that which is already ours. That which can only come to us by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. In 11 Corinthians 1:20, we read, all the promises of God are simply yes and amen to us, through the perfect work of Christ’s sacrifice. The victory is already ours! We do not fast to get God to give us anything. Everything God will ever give has already been given by grace over two thousand years ago and now waits for us to receive it by our faith. So let us understand we are no longer strangers and outcasts before God, but rather we are his children and members of his household.
Romans 5 tells us we now have access by faith into this grace that we are now standing in. By faith we can satisfied: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen……. Fear not O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.” In Luke 4:1 we read that Jesus, “full of Spirit” was lead into the wilderness where he fasted for 40 days. In verse 14 we read, he returned in “the power of the Spirit” into Galilee. raise up and reign in life through one Jesus Christ. When we fast we are seeking to remove the hindrances within ourselves, as well as those of the enemy in order to release our faith and appropriate all the riches of the kingdom of God. To come boldly unto the throne of grace; release our faith and receive that which is ours through the finished work of the Cross.
REPENTANCE AND THE BREAKING OF THE OLD MAN Our fasting begins with our seeking repentance (if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me). Here we cry out to God for his forgiveness and grace upon us. Seeking for that most secret of places, where we find the true presence of God himself. As we begin our fasting we are faced with the reality, we have such little strength within ourselves to even control our own appetite. But for those who will pay the price there is waiting the greatest of God’s blessing, the sweetest of his presence, and the fullness of his power! Fasting involves the breaking of the outer man or the soul part. Fasting lends itself to the crucifying of our flesh, with the affections and lust found in each of us. This breaking of the old unrepentant man with his lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. We must fast and pray until our pride and self-will truly are crucified and dead within us. This desire to exalt ourselves. This part of us that even while doing the Lord’s work causes us to still lust to steal a small portion of glory for ourselves. As Samuel, we want to be God’s anointed messenger and yet leave a small part of our own desire and rebellion and lust hidden. Oh how great and clever the enemy found within our old natural man; hidden within our own souls. It is in fasting we bow down our heads and humble ourselves and find the complete grace of God. It is here we become the kernel of wheat that falls into the ground and dies, so it abides not alone. It is here our alabaster box will be broken upon Jesus and the sweet smell of our life will be released. From this place of total sin free surrender we can now move forward with seeking God for the removal of all hindrances from within ourselves and unto the releasing of our faith; to the obtaining the precious promises of God.
THAT WHICH IS BORN OF THE FLESH IS FLESH “And it came to pass as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime for mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven, and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built. And the Lord said, behold the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” Genesis 11:2-4 There are those believers today who believe they can determine within their own souls their place and purpose in God. They preach faith and all the promises. They pursue righteousness without truly comprehending the total ownership of their lives by God. They have escaped the truth that they have been bought with a price and are no longer their own. They like Abraham create their Ishmaels while missing the seed of God’s true covenant. In America we saw a major denomination have a meeting of all their leaders and from that meeting they declared that 1990 to 2000 was to be the “decade of harvest.” Other groups and denominations liked this idea and they too found similar expressions of all the great things to happen in the following decade. Many visions were told, many programs were instituted and much money was spent. The reality was after the ten years of programs and pursuit, very little spiritual happened and America experienced a decade of tragic moral and spiritual decline.
THE END TIME CHURCH As I travel among the different nations I see the Church going in two ways during this hour. The one is moving more and more in the soul realm of man’s ideas, organization, budgeting and perfecting. They teach the blessing and fulfillment of the believer and those with itching ears given to vanity and modernism are following by the masses. Truly this tower of Babel will grow and increase: heaping teachers to themselves who promise better always. This will continue until they give place to the new leader who will corrupt with flattery and promise peace to the whole earth.
Then there is the second group. A people who are a broken, humble people who know the difference between the soul and the Spirit, between man’s programs and the reality of the Holy Spirit Church. In this group we find the true Church. The sick are being healed, the demons cast out and the gospel is being preached to the poor. While the first group is becoming more and more prominent with larger and larger worldly success, this faithful remnant is taking the message and being scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth. A people who have fallen into the ground and died. Those who are filled with the Spirit, now led of the Spirit, proclaiming the true message; not of man’s wisdom, but the true gospel of resurrection power. These who love not their lives unto death. Those who have the heart of their Father and love the lost as he does. To those who desire to be a part of this latter group I would like to share with you in fasting. Jesus said “the princes of the gentiles exercise dominion over them and they that are great exercise authority upon them, but it shall not be so among you.” You cannot go anywhere that you can’t find leadership and authority in the church moving in the soul realm. May God deliver us from this and show us the true Cross. “Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And, “He will say depart from me I never knew you!” (Matt.7:21-23). From the unbroken power of our own souls comes our best intentions and results in the finest of religious pursuits and while seeming so right, in the end it produces no fruit that remains. Many times it is only after fasting and prayer we will truly know what is of our soul and what is of the Spirit. This is true in our personal lives and also in the Church. There are many believers who miss God due to a lack of fasting and seeking. They are still saved but they are missing their life work for God due to logical pursuit rather than a Spirit revealed life of faith. I know of many groups that have their pastor’s meeting with no time of fasting and prayer, because they are men who live their personal lives without fasting and prayer. They continue fishing on the wrong side of the boat and never take time to hear the still small voice of their master. We are not of this group but we will be of the group who like Paul will say “in fasting often” (11 Corinthians 11:27)
When we look at the account of the early church at Antioch in Acts 13, we find the prophets and teachers fasting and ministering unto the Lord. It relates how as they were doing this “The Holy Spirit said, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work where unto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” It then goes on to tell of their successful ministry. How different the account of the second missionary journey found in Acts 15:36-41.This trip begins with a quarrel between ministers, moves forward in the flesh of disagreement and leaves without fasting and prayer. As we read further, they are stopped by the Holy Spirit and forbidden from moving forward with their own plans of preaching the word in Asia. Then they decide to go into Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit again will not allow this. What a clear picture, of saved ministers being lead of the Spirit one time and then in the second journey being led of the soul realm. The first time with fasting and prayer they heard “go” and in the second trip they found confusion and heard “no.”Yes I still believe the true believer as well as the Church is ruled and administered by the Holy Spirit. I believe God’s covenant today still rests among those who are lead of the Spirit, who through fasting and prayer; know, hear, and obey His voice. Yet there are still those in the Church who are lead of the soul in good intentions and religious pursuits on their way to Asia and Bithynia. True discipleship of the believer begins in learning the relationship we are now born into with the living reality of the Holy Spirit. Do we really know His voice or do we only know our own intellectual pursuit of his calling and grace? Are we living the crucified life of our Lord, or are we pursuing our own desires and goals outside of the Holy Spirit’s true will?
SPIRITUAL WARFARE The final area of fasting I want to talk about is in the area of spiritual warfare. In spiritual warfare many times we do not know the time nor length of our fasting in the beginning, we only know we must fast and pray until we have our breakthrough. At times we may move from nothing, to water only, to one meal, and back and forth until the answer comes. Many times this will involve group effort as without ceasing the church wrestles and travails until victory is won. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers in heavenly places.” “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in the Lord to the pulling down of strongholds.” By searching the Scriptures we come to understand from Genesis 1:26 God made man to have dominion over all the earth. Romans 11:29 says, “The gifts and callings of God are without repentance.” When Adam, sinned in the garden Satan became the prince, or ruler of this earthly realm.
Jesus said this when he said, “The ruler of this world comes and has nothing in me.” 11 Corinthians 4:4 calls Satan, “the God of this world.” In Genesis 3:23 God said to Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, As man forfeited his place of dominion, so man would also have to reconquer this dominion. Thus Jesus became a man through the seed of the woman. As God had forever given the dominion to man, now only a man could reconquer what he had lost in the fall. At the Cross we know that Jesus spoiled principalities and powers, making a show of them openly, triumphing over them through it. (Colossians 2:15) Jesus said, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:18 & 19). Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” We read Paul’s prayer for the believer in Ephesus, chapter one, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know the hope of his calling, and what the riches of his inheritance in the saints. And what is the exceeding greatness of his power towards us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places. Far above all principality and power, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. And has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness all in all.” In studying the Bible we see that man is the key player in establishing God’s will and purpose and power in the world today. God’s kingdom is advancing through the believer/the Church. Jesus said whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven, whatever you loose on earth is loosed in heaven. The delegated authority of Jesus is now resting in the Church. This place of blood bought legal authority over the realms of darkness, obtained by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The responsibility of the great commission, has now been entrusted to the believer/the Church. As we see in the book of Acts when Jesus appeared to Paul he did not tell him his place, but rather sent him to the nearest believers/the Church to find out God’s plan for him and his life.
When Cornelius fasted and prayed the angel could not tell him the gospel, only instruct him to summons the believer/The Church. It is so important for us to understand this. When the believer in Christ has been filled with the Holy Spirit and knows the voice and mind of the Spirit, he is then capable of being used by the Spirit to take God’s kingdom to the ends of the earth. We now have the proper understanding that we are the feet of Jesus, the love of Jesus and the voice of Jesus. It is up to us to go in the authority of Jesus into all the world, and advance the kingdom. As we have now become that kernel of wheat that has fallen into the ground and died, we too have now become those who pray as Jesus prayed, “not my will Father, but yours be done.” We must understand when we pray “Your kingdom come and your will be done” it will not be God doing something by himself, but rather the Holy Spirit instructing and anointing the believers in moving the kingdom forward. It is in our fasting and prayer we receive the divine strategies of God. We need to be aware of the darkness that is involved in this. Let’s look again at the account of the Church in Antioch as the Holy Spirit spoke and said separate unto me Barnabas and Paul. When they heard this they then continued to fast and pray. This is important to notice and understand if we are involved in fasting and prayer. Let me start with reminding us of the Scripture where Jesus said he saw Satan fall as lightning from heaven. Satan is forever barred from ever entering heaven again. Now let’s go to 11 Corinthians 2:6-8: “But we speak wisdom among them that are mature: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, that comes to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.” Let me remind you of the word from Genesis 3:15 where God said to Satan, “his heel shall bruise your head.” Since the day Jesus triumphed over Satan at the Cross, Satan has been confused about what God will be doing next in his kingdom, thus his head is now bruised. When we look in Ephesians 3:10 we are told it is God’s intention to make known through the Church his manifold wisdom unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places. We can now understand that when the Holy Spirit reveals God’s plans and purposes to the Church the angels of darkness also become aware of this. Jesus said the thief will come immediately to steal the seed.
Thus when God reveals his will and intentions to us we do not rejoice and sing, but rather we know it is critical we continue to fast and pray and bind the evil forces that will immediately come against this word to destroy it.When we read of the Apostle Paul in the books of Acts, as he was imprisoned in Jerusalem; it tells us in Acts 23:11 that the Lord stood by him, and said, “be of good cheer, Paul: for as you have testified of me in Jerusalem, so must you bear witness of me also at Rome.” This was the will of God revealed openly to Paul at this time. ght the angel of God, whose I am, and We continue reading as Paul is bound by the authorities and taken aboard a ship to travel to Rome. In Acts 27:14&15 “but not long after, there arose against it a tempestuous wind call Euroclydon. And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. (20&24) And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. But after long abstinence (fasting) Paul stood in the midst of them and said, Sirs, you should have listened to me and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and lost. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but the ship. For there stood by me this ni whom I serve. Saying fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and lo, God has given you all those who sail with you” God’s will and plan is revealed. Satan comes to stop it. Man through fasting and prayer, standing in faith of God’s promise, brings forth the fruit unto fulfillment. When we read of Daniel and fasting we can see a small part of the spiritual battles we are involved in through fasting and prayer. It tells us after twenty one days an angel appeared to him. Those who had not been in fasting and prayer did not see the vision, but became afraid and fled to hide themselves. The angel appeared and gave Daniel an understanding of the process. He told Daniel his prayer had been heard in heaven, at the very first, but the strong ruler, an evil spirit (the prince of the kingdom of Persia) had withstood him during this time. It was with the help of Michael one of the chief rulers of the angels of light he was able to break through and appear to Daniel. After speaking to Daniel he then said you now know why I have come to you, and now I will return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I have gone the prince of Grecia will come.
We see it is in fasting and prayer we enter the realms of the heavens and join with the angels of light in the pulling down of the strongholds of darkness against us; while releasing God’s plans and purposes. After Jesus fasted and prayed for forty days the angels came and ministered unto him. While fasting and praying Cornelius was visited by the angel. As Paul fasted and prayed an angel stood by him and the storm was conquered. Quite some years ago I was involved with a group of churches that moved in the prophetic. They are all gone now. They would receive the word of the Lord; weep and worship and then have a large meal and all go home. Soon many things would happen and cause the people to doubt if it was really God, and so the prophecies were never fulfilled. A few years ago I sat with one of the ministers involved, who has been out of the ministry for many years. As I explained these things to him his eyes filled with tears as he realized the word of the Lord had been true; it was just that we were ignorant of Satan’s devices and the discipline of fasting and prayer it would have taken for the plans of God to be realized among us. Psalms 78:9 Says, “The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.” Verse 41: “Yes, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.
FROM SAVED CHILDREN TO TRAINED AND PROVEN SOLDIERS 11 Tim. 2:3 “You therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” Brothers and Sisters we are moving closer and closer to the end. The day is far spent and there is still so much to be done. I pray we will raise up to the task of finishing the work that is still left for us to do before our Master returns. I beg each of us to take up the Cross, to become the soldier we are called to be. Let us live a life of discipline in prayer and fasting, and let us be the spiritual vessels of authority God so needs and desires in this final hour. Oh God use us in your last great outpouring of the Holy Spirit prior to your return.
Even so now come Lord Jesus. Amen!