Like many churches this time of year, we as a church, are fasting. As we begin 2014, for the first 21 days we are choosing to put God before our bodies and/or our habits. We are not doing this from a religious standpoint but with a desire to refocus in our relationship with God we have through Christ.
The beginning of the year always seems to present itself with an imaginary reset button. Jan 1 is just a day like any other but it gives us a chance to look at the previous year and with vision and imagination look forward to the New Year. When we fast and pray putting God first, it allows us to hear better what his plans are for our lives, because we are tuning out and putting down what is most common to us. This is much like when you are talking to someone while they are watching TV. Or texting, it’s like saying to God, “you have my undivided attention”.
Prayer and fasting moves God, but not in the sense of causing God to move currently from a position of heaven on our behalf. God has already moved in the mightiest of ways on our behalf 2000 years ago when he gave of himself, Jesus.
Sometimes we have a particular need or perhaps go to God seeking an answer or direction. Prayer and Fasting moves God because with our renewed focus, God is no longer this unapproachable being in the sky but instead as Jesus said, I am in you. Our relationship with God is not one of proximity; it’s a relationship of surrendering.
Seeking God through prayer and fasting helps us to see Him for who He truly is, the living, the now and current God, our Abba father. It’s about a physical submission to a spiritual goal of allowing God’s will with our lives, working His power.
Phil 2:13 says that, it is God that works in us both to will and His good pleasure in us. But we are not zombies. We have a say in our lives through our will. It is the same will in which we choose Christ. God has placed the Holy Spirit in us but we must submit to the Spirit. If we don’t, God won’t move and his good, acceptable and perfect will, cannot be proved out in our lives (Romans 12:2).
When we renew, refocus and put God first as we fast and pray we are putting aside our will and saying yes to His, effectively moving God from the inside, where he dwells in our spirit to the outside where we need him in our soul and flesh, the place we struggle and where we are used in his kingdom.
Generally fasting is of some level of food as this is common to us all but in today’s electronic age, Facebook, the internet and T.V. and video games are just as common and sadly with some, more desired than food.
We all like food, want it and need it. Assuming you choose to fast food and by that I don’t mean the McDonald’s diet. However, there are various ways you can fast. You could fast certain types of foods like sugar, soft-drinks or chocolate. Yes I said chocolate. You could fast a particular meal each day or do what is called a “Daniel’s fast” (look it up) as he did for 21 days and received an answer from the Lord.
Fasting is not just about the first of the year, you can fast at any time and I am an advocate for living the fasted lifestyle. Since it is about a laying down with a refocus toward God and not about a religious act of punishment or penance, take those times normally spent doing these things and replace them with spending time with the Lord, reading your bible, praying about this year, your church or whatever it is you are seeking personally. It is between you and God what you might fast as it is an action of the heart.
The focus is not on the menu of what is allowed or not but on connecting better with God. Be realistic not legalistic or else you miss out on the many benefits and enjoyment of fasting.
One such benefit is helping us with temptations as we surrender those things to Jesus that we had little success in trying to quit or deal with on our own.
Jesus was tempted more than any man and it was during His 40 day fast where he was tempted the most. Fasting not only helped him overcome the temptations, but Luke 4 says that afterwards he returned to Galilee strong in the power of the Spirit.
Prayer and fasting produces spiritual strength allowing the power of God through the Spirit to move and make us strong in our soul and flesh. The bible says that some things can only be overcome by prayer and fasting. That means you will never have the strength on your own to face some of the spiritual battles and struggles the adversary may bring. So fasting becomes a spiritual weapon to us.
Fasting increases spiritual sensitivity. Fasting brings revelation of things not known in the natural. In Daniel chapter 9 mysteries were revealed. Fasting brings favor. Daniel and his boys skipped the king’s delicacies and instead of being punished were shown great favor. Fasting gets prayers answered. Nehemiah prayed and fasted for 4 months and his desires and requests of God were more than met.
Fasting is generally more than a day if you really want to see some results. In Isaiah chapter 58 the people were complaining that their fasting was going unnoticed. They were taking a day to fast but were not changing anything else in their lives. They were still treating people badly, exploiting their workers and just doing as they pleased.
Mathew Chapter 6 says to not walk around with look on your face that lets everyone know you are missing out on what they are enjoying. Verse 18 says that Fasting should be…..
Matthew 6:18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Jesus prayed and fasted often.
Fasting is about humility before God seeking his greater will than ours. It’s very difficult to be full of pride when you are fasting. Fasting gets our minds back to the reality that we are not self- sustaining, we do not produce within ourselves all we need. We are fragile as individuals and depend on God and others.
The goal is to experience a real hunger for spending time with God, causing a spiritual awakening in our lives.
Let that craving for the common habit or a chocolate bar to become a constant reminder to seek the will of God and what you are praying for in your life.
Stir the Holy Spirit within you by prayer and fasting. Let it have an effect on your soul, strengthen your faith and see God purpose revealed that will change your life forever. Join those that have and seen the results it produces.
We know Jesus fasted and as mentioned Daniel but did you know that Paul the apostle, David the king, and Elijah the prophet fasted? How about you?
With the Holiday coming up we all have a sense to start looking to what we can be thankful for. Keep in mind Thanksgiving is an American holiday and God is not an American. There are 364 other days in which we should be living and walking in thanks.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
This was written by Paul while in prison.
Living in peace and thanks allowed Paul to have an attitude of thanks-living. The circumstances were not the source of Paul’s happiness, therefore when bad, they could not rob his joy either.
Paul was thankful for the love of Christ in his life always. It allowed him to change his perspective.
Happiness has more to do with perspective than circumstances. It’s hard to complain about your struggles when your are thankful for what Christ has done.
The thanks-living lifestyle will greatly improve all areas of your life. You may not realize the work being done in your life by sowing those seeds of gratitude, but it will produce a harvest full of life to be enjoyed every day in which the circumstances of life can’t devour.