I hope, by reading this, you will develop a hunger for fasting. I hope you will begin to see fasting as the "secret weapon" in your ministerial arsenal - whether anyone perceives you as an actual "minister" or not.
Incidentally, God does! I believe we are living in the day of the Ordinary, NOT the ordained.
But I digress.
In Matthew 6 - the famous "beatitudes" - Jesus refers to the three duties required of His Followers: Prayer, Giving and Fasting. Frankly, anyone who hasn't mastered any one of those three may have found the reason why they feel so powerless in prayer and in their battles against the enemy of their souls. In my opinion, proper teaching in all three aspects has been lacking for generations, having a negative impact on the faith of millions upon millions of Believers. The Church is big but she is, in general, ineffective; as I see it, a misunderstanding of the discipline of fasting is the main reason why.
Over the years, without making any purposeful effort, I have partaken in the act of fasting nearly every time I was about to minister. Whether it was a wedding I officiated, a baptism at the lake, or addressing a crowd or congregation in a church, living room or auditorium, fact is, I don't eat beforehand beginning from the night before (Daniel 6:18). Frankly, it simply doesn't "feel" right. There's no other name for denying oneself a nourishing meal except "fasting."
Last Saturday, after a wedding rehearsal in Abilene, Texas, I chose to spend the night at my in-law's house rather than making the 2-hour drive home, only to return for the wedding the next morning. My father-in-law had been diagnosed with leukemia and, though he had been doing quite well, in recent months, his condition had been worsening. In fact, he had been told he might have only 6 months to live. My wife and I had been praying, asking God for a Divine Appointment - an opportunity to minister healing to him and a heart ready to receive the gift of healing.
The morning of the wedding, after fasting all night (hence the term "BREAK - FAST") and never intending to eat before the wedding, I was given permission to minister healing to him while he sat at the breakfast table. Bear in mind, Jesus never told His followers to PRAY for the sick; He commanded us to HEAL them. OWN that concept, folks; it's critical. After laying a spiritual foundation to increase his faith - sharing my own healing testimony and sharing those of a few others - I anointed his forehead with oil while he and my mother-in-law laid our hands upon him. I made declarations, coming against the Spirit of Death, and reminded God of His Biblical promises regarding healing.
Mind you, my father-in-law was not raised in The Church and had never been exposed to any of these types of teachings. In fact, all he knew of Divine Healing and miracles was the televangelists he had seen on TV which had left him even more skeptical. Unlike those who REQUEST healing ministry - my own mother, for example, who recently received her own stellar report after a physical - I felt it necessary to increase his faith and knowledge with the testimonies I shared, breaking up the hard ground in preparation to receive the seed I was hoping to sow. Considering how Divine Healing is such a powerful tool of evangelism, I’m anticipating even more to come as a result of this time of ministry.
Today, Tuesday, my wife called me, excitedly reporting what she had just heard from her parents by phone. This morning, when they went to the hospital for his bone marrow aspiration, the doctor CANCELLED it! Reason? My father-in-law's white blood cell count had dropped SO dramatically, they saw no need to go through with the procedure! PRAISE GOD! Sure, they want to see him again in a few weeks as expected. I believe that will only confirm today's results, amen?
By the way, the wedding was wonderful and blessed all who attended. I pigged-out on the way home afterward and Barbara and I ate a hardy fajita supper that night. Fasting mission accomplished!
Point is, I ministered after I'd fasted. I contend when we do that, we subdue King Dunlaps (that's when your belly "done laps" over yer belt) and can better focus on King Jesus and that which He wants to accomplish through His willing vessels for the advancement of His Kingdom. I believe fasting clears your spirit of the stuff of life and increases one's sensitivity to the things of God. It can be an incredible source of spiritual power. No, it has no spiritual value in and of itself (that which is of the flesh is flesh, John 3:6), but it the attitude of a heart sincerely seeking after God to which He responds with blessing and power.
This is a powerful truth, folks. Embrace it! It may well be the missing piece to your arsenal of spiritual power to overcome, to deliver others from bondage, and to pound lumps on the devil.
Here are some do's and don'ts about fasting from my own experience:
DO fast because the Spirit leads you to do so. Anything less is nothing but a miserable diet.
DO fast as the Spirit leads, whether it's for 24 hours or 40 days. Maybe it involves fasting everything or just choice foods as David fasted. Perhaps it's a juice fast or bread and water. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and grace you to do as He leads!
DON'T fast for religious reasons, or because you're feeling obligated by someone. (See Isaiah 58, Zechariah 7:5-6, Matthew 6:6-18; Luke 18:9-14).
DON'T fast to lose weight.
DON'T fast if you're sick without a doc's permission.
Following are some Biblical examples references to fasting. Please use them for you own study on the subject.
Luke 2:37 "And she was a widow of about 44 years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day."
Acts 10:30 "Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing."
Acts 13:2 "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said . . ."
Acts 14:23 "And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord . . ."
I Corinthians 7:5 ". . . that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer . . ."
How long should we fast?
Exodus 34:28 "So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments."
Esther 4:16 "Go, gather together all the Jews . . . and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day . . ."
Daniel 10:3-13 "I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled."
Acts 9:9, 11 "And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink."
Acts 27:33 ". . . This is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing."
Matthew 4:2 (Mk 1:13; Lk 4:2) "And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry."
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