I see so many churches staging one, two, three, even twenty-one-day fasts, supposedly in My honor. Yes, I mean staged, because when a certain day rolls around everyone is expected to search for sin in their lives and mourn over their transgressions. Why wait till then to make things right with me? Does it take the dawning of a specific day to induce you to repent, if indeed you do have some sin in your life you haven’t yet confessed to Me and put under the Blood?
Then there are the regular fasts done to prepare for an event, such as a church convention. Every year like clockwork church leadership will claim they feel My leading for a three-day fast, just because it’s convention time. This is a form of observing special days of the year and coming under religious obligation to fulfill their required rituals (Gal.4:9-11), expressly warned against in My Word and condemned as rank heresy.
I’ve taken My people out of the Old Covenant but I have a hard time taking the Old Covenant way of thinking out of them. This is not the Old Testament, which revolved around calendars and commanded that certain rituals, washings and sacrifices be carried out in a certain way and done on certain days each and every year in perpetuity. Don’t suppose that just because your convention (or other planned event) begins on a certain date that it must be My Spirit leading you to do without your Danish and coffee each morning for three days the week before it starts. Ask yourself: “Am I being led by peer pressure, or the church leadership telling me what to do in God’s place?
Imposing manmade “spiritual disciplines” (the term doesn’t even exist in My Word) outside My written revelation to the Church is dangerous. It takes only ONE slender link of a chain to bind you to law instead of grace. I have seen so many sick, elderly, hypoglycemic and expectant mothers ridden with false guilt because they were too ill to fast like the others. Some brothers and sisters work at a strenuous job many hours per week and cannot deny themselves nourishment to beg Me for a blessing. Do you think I’m going to refuse to water these tender plants when I go out to care for My own garden?
Churches stage pre-convention fasts in hopes of persuading Me to release a mighty anointing of power to heal the sick and deliver folks from satan’s oppression. A little discomfort in exchange for blessings from My hand. Do you think I require your two cents’ worth of so-called suffering to supplement what My Son did on Calvary? Do you honestly believe that I take pleasure in seeing you torture your own bodies with hunger as you go to work at a fancy restaurant serving other people their meals? Does this merit My favor and My kindness toward you, already earned on your behalf through the sufferings of My own dear Son the Lord Jesus Christ? Didn’t the wicked priests of Baal also seek to appease their own god with physical discomfort when they fasted and cut themselves out of desperation to try to get a miracle out of him (I Kings 18:26)?
Jesus associated religious fasting with mourning (Matt.9:15). If a saint is full of My joy the day before the so-called pre-convention fast and the next day I hear him moaning inside, “Oh, no, fast day. Time to go whip myself in the prayer room. Be glad when it’s over and I can enjoy life again,” then of course that strikes me as being very artificially contrived, a miserable duty to carry out because it’s expected of him/her by the church. If that saint constantly feels My Presence, then he/she knows I am there with them all the time and can hardly help but feel joyful (Matt.28:20). If you, unlike the experience of Old Covenant saints, are made one spirit with Me (I Cor.6:17) how can you claim that I am not with you and you must bring your body a little closer to death in order to enable your soul to commune with me in My far-off heaven, as so many believe?
It was the Pharisees who inaugurated extra fast days, above and beyond the yearly Day of Atonement on the Jewish ritual calendar. I do not bind the Old Leaven of the Pharisees on My people. As for fasting out of a sense of shame for being an imperfect human, relax. I have already bestowed upon you the honor of being a son or daughter endued with the perfect righteousness of Christ (2 Cor.5:21). So long as you tread softly before me with a repentant heart and keep your accounts clear with me through heartfelt repentance and faith in the precious blood of Jesus, you can call yourself righteous through My Blood. Contrary to what guilt peddlers imply, you do NOT owe any residual penalty of self-imposed suffering to earn or keep My favor. And it does NOT make you more spiritual than the rest to believe and practice that. In fact it only shows you’ve been taught lack of faith in My fully finished provision for your salvation on Calvary (John 19:30). It is not up to YOU to finish it through self-affliction and drummed-up sorrow. That is a Dark Ages doctrine, and it is all darkness, not light.
Yes, there are times to forget all else and concentrate on urgent, fervent prayer. That might be forgetting the football game on televeision, some secular meeting or activity, magazines, games, not just a meal or two. The focus of too many has been on “self-mortification” a false doctrine which contradicts Colossians 2:20-23. This passage specifically teaches that harshness on the body does not make a believer less carnal-natured and more spiritual, contradicting the teachings of many today.
Even in the legitimate practice of forgetting all else to focus on prayer, many will sense in their spirits that the burden has been lifted and the answer to prayer is on its way. The need has been met by faith. But they persist in fasting or other self-affliction for the whole 72 hours, or other time they agreed upon with themselves or with others.
If you indeed feel the inner joy and reassurance that I have answered your petition, then why continue to beat yourself up by denying yourself food and drink and acting mournful? Why burden your body with a burden I haven’t put there?
Some grimly determine to hold their own bodies hostage till I give them what they want. They hide this stark reality under the cloak of self-imposed humility and humbling the old nature. The Spirit-imparted grace of true humility and virtue cannot be bought at the price of a few sacrificed doughnuts.
Faith works by love (Gal.5:6). I see many saints fasting before a church convention, or just because the pastor’s done something wrong, has a guilty conscience and wants the whole church to humble themselves with him. Their stomachs are (temporarily) empty but their freezers are crammed with more food than they need for the foreseeable future, including ice cream treats they plan to enjoy to make up for all the tasty calories they supposedly sacrificed to honor me. At the same time, there may be other Christians who don’t even have a scrap of bread for lunch. The daddy of a large family chews his nails in anxiety, wondering how to get the light bill paid, wondering how to scrape together a couple dollars to buy pinto beans to stretch two meals out of. It’s not that the man is lazy, he’s just been laid off and his wife is expecting yet another baby. Very strange how so many Christians campaign against the sin of abortion yet fail to see any sin in allowing already born children of other people to go without, when they are in a position to help.
The poor Christian man is way too ashamed to make his needs known to his more affluent brethren. He cries out to Me for help. I impress several to go by and see this family. But they refuse. That particular man is a loser in their eyes, someone who doesn’t know how to manipulate The Seven ABC’s of Prosperity. The ones impressed to help just cross the road so they won’t see him anymore. Out of sight, out of mind. Just like the self-rightous religious Jews in Jesus’ parable. They’re in no mood to become Good Samaritans. They’d much rather go swimming or to the movies. After all, tomorrow’s the start of that dreaded three-day church fast and they’d better pack in all the fun they can before they must put on their miserable face.
Instead of putting on the self-starvation act every year, why don’t churches celebrate My love all year-round, increasing more and more in acts of kindness and charity up till the time of the convention (I Thes.4:9-10)? Instead of depriving their own bodies of food, why don’t My people go out in the community and seek out those who have nothing to eat, beginning with those in their midst? Why don’t My people feed and strengthen one another on the manna of the Love of Christ instead of trying to please Me by weakening themselves in fasting? The purpose of your assembling together is to build one another up in love (Eph.4:16). I see way too much religious activity in churches worldwide and precious little loving of the less fortunate.
Isaiah 58:6: Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
Everywhere in the epistles of the apostles, you’ll find exhortations to love one another and seek each other’s good. But after the Book of Acts, not one exhortation to fast from food as a devotional duty. Even I Cor.7:5 is not a commandment to fast, just an instruction to married couples not to withhold marital relations from each other unless it is mutually agreed that earthly things will be temporarily set aside in order to focus on prayer. If this verse could be interpreted as a commandment to fast, it follows that abstinence from sex is also commanded here, which is definitely not true!
I Tim.4:1: Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
My servant Paul does not even mention fasting as a possible exception to the “nothing to be refused” rule, although you would sometimes be obligated to refuse food if fasting were binding under the New Covenant.
The only abstaining (fasting) commanded after the Cross is abstention from evil things (Acts 15:20, 29; I Cor.5:7-8; I Thes.4:3; 5:22; I Pet.2:11). The only reference to commanding to abstain from food is a negative one, to condemn the practice (I Tim.4:3).
If you’re caught up in the spirit of prayer you don’t have to stop to eat or do any other activity which could easily be put off awhile. But to say “God won’t bless me unless I deliberately deprive myself of something”, and to fast for fasting’s sake is a denial of the sufficiency of what I have already provided for you through the Blood of My Cross.
There is much talk about “seeking the anointing” to turn the world upside down. But haven’t I ALREADY gifted you all with ALL things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pet.1:3)? Only ONE spiritual anointing is mentioned after the Cross (I John 2:27), not several. Where, in the New Testament do you read of separate “special anointings” being needed, to be obtained through fasting or any other so-called sacrifice? My people, stick with the Word, RIGHTLY DIVIDED and read through the eyes of understanding of what is applicable to saints living under the New Covenant. Fast from wickedness and bad attitudes toward others. Fast from selfishness and greed.
Instead of striving to empty your stomachs, strive to fill your hearts and lives with charity (I Cor.13). An empty stomach doesn’t fill your heart with love and charity. Even if you give your body to be burned it doesn’t matter one whit so long as you harbor hatred and resentment toward your neighbor in the next pew. Fast from everything which violates the spirit of My love. That’s the only type of fasting I require.