The Spiritual Side of Fasting
Starting out: Begin by confessing your sin or asking God to reveal your sin, proceed with forgiveness.
Pastor Franklin said, “My mother was an excellent cook. But if she had gotten so caught up in other things that all she ever put on the table for us was meat loaf every night of the week, I don’t think it would have been long for me to find somewhere else to eat. The disappointing sounds of comments like, ‘Aw, Mom, meat loaf again?’ would have been common at my house. What if God were hungry and all we have to feed Him is our same dull religious routines day after day? Just like ending up with meat loaf on the table every night, I can just hear our heavenly Father sighing, ‘Religion again?’”
Also from Pastor Franklin: “America has greatly sinned against God through abortion, homosexuality, adultery, rampant pornography, and fornication. We have no fear of God, and America is rapidly becoming a pagan nation. Our only hope is to humble ourselves in fasting and prayer.
(Richard Foster) It is sobering to realize that the very first statement Jesus made about fasting dealt with the question of motive in (Matt. 6:16-18). To use good things to our own ends is always the sign of false religion. How easy it is to take something like fasting and try to use it to get God to do what we want. Fasting must forever be centered on God. It must be God-initiated and God-ordained. Like the prophetess Anna, we need to be “worshipping and fasting” (Luke 2:37).
God questioned the people in Zechariah’s day (Zech. 7:5) “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘when you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?’”
If our fasting is not to God, we have failed. Physical benefits, success in prayer, the enduing with power, spiritual insights—these must never replace God as the center of our fasting. John Wesley declares, “First let it [fasting] be done unto the Lord with our eye singly fixed on Him Let our intention herein be this, and this alone, to glorify our Father which is in heaven…” This is the only way we will be saved from loving the blessing more than the Blesser.
Once the primary purpose of fasting is firmly fixed in our hearts, we are at liberty to understand that there are also secondary purposes in fasting. More than any other Discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface. If pride controls us, it will be revealed almost immediately. If anger, bitterness, jealousy, strife, fear –if they are within us, they will surface during fasting. At first we will rationalize that our anger is due to our hunger; then we will realize that we are angry because the spirit of anger is within us. We can rejoice in this knowledge because we know that healing is available through the power of Christ.”
(Pastor Franklin) Satan gets disturbed- and defeated—when you decide to do more than be a Sunday-morning Christian. He has probably tried repeatedly to distract you from reading the Bible already. The devil knows fasting releases God’s power.
Have you ever wondered why, of all things, Satan tempted Jesus at the end of His fast by provoking Him to turn stones into bread? Jesus had the power to do so, but He came to use His power to serve others, not Himself. Further, He was determined to complete the fast God had called Him to finish. Jesus knew that some of the benefits of fasting cannot be released otherwise- and so did the devil! When Jesus returned from that 40 day fast, He immediately began to do mighty miracles, “healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38) Satan needed to get Jesus focused on His appetite because if he didn’t, Jesus was going to receive power from God that would change the world!
Remember, the enemy’s agenda is to steal, kill, and destroy you. Do you think the enemy wants you to believe that nothing is impossible for you? He knows he is defeated, but he doesn’t want you to know it or to walk in that realm of God’s power. That is why it is so crucial for him to get you distracted. Don’t allow the enemies in your life to cause you to focus more on your appetite or circumstances than on the promises of God that are released when you employ the powerful weapon of fasting.
Keeping It Personal
(Richard Foster) “It should go without saying that you should follow Jesus’ counsel to refrain from calling attention to what you are doing. The only ones should know you are fasting are those who have to know. If you call attention to your fasting, people will be impressed and, as Jesus said, that will be your reward. You, however, are fasting for far greater and deeper rewards.
(Pastor Franklin) “Though you do not fast to be cleansed of sin (the blood of Jesus is the only solution for sin), you should enter a fast seriously, having repented of any known sins. Fasting will even bring hidden things to the surface so you can repent.
(Pastor Franklin) “Fasting is not a means to promote yourself. The greatest thing fasting will do for you will be to break down all of the stuff that accumulates from this world that blocks you from clear communion with the Father."
"When you are on a prolonged fast, you are praying continually. You have to make time to get away and pray, whether you feel like it or not. Fasting in and of itself is a continual prayer to God. You are praying twenty-four hours a day when you are fasting. If you have been fasting all day, you’ve been praying all day."
"Some of the greatest miracles, breakthroughs, and seasons of prayer I have experienced did not come when I was “feeling led” to pray and fast. They actually came when the last thing I wanted to do was drag myself to my prayer place, but I did, and God honored my faithfulness.”
Different Times to Pray
*During Mealtime (instead of breakfast, lunch, supper)
*One Special prayer time (extra time to devote yourself to prayer)
*Intermittently (Let your hunger pains remind you to pray for your cause)
What To Pray
*The Lord’s Prayer (Make it more personal by applying it to your own life)
*Your Prayer list (Write a list of Family, Work associates, Church, Christian leaders, & Monthly Issues. At the end of each month, circle the greatest answers to prayer for the last month.)
Listening to God’s Voice
Pastor Franklin wants you to understand something: fasting and prayer sharpen the blade, which is the Word of God. When you fast, mealtimes often become study times. You become more keyed in to God’s Word, and God begins to show you deeper truths. Understanding comes from the study of God’s Word!
Many Christians have just stopped fighting all together because they are battered and bruised or using dull blades to fight demonic powers. But when you fast and pray, you effectively sharpen the Word in your mouth.
Elmer Towns begins with, “Hearing from God is one of the best things that can happen during a fast. When you take time to read the Word of God, pray, and wait on the Lord, you can hear the voice of God speaking to you. You stop listening to your body and catering to its desires so that your soul can become quiet. Then you can listen to God only.
God may speak to you when you are driving the expressway, working, playing sports, or are as far removed from the church as possible. God may awaken you in the middle of the night. You cannot always predict when God will call. But you can always be ready to hear Him when He speaks.
Unlike the TV, God doesn’t speak if the hearer isn’t listening. You can hear God best when you are in a quiet setting with no distractions, no pressures, and no alternate voices.
When you are fasting, pray with a pen in hand and a note pad before you, ask God to speak to you, and then write down what He says. You do this by writing down what you are thinking- what comes to your mind. Once you get it down on paper, you can come back to analyze the message to determine if it was from God or yourself. Some thoughts come to us from our selfish nature to draw us away from God and point us in the wrong direction. When an inner voice is clear, purposeful and does not bring confusion it is probably from God. When it is disruptive, confusing and points you in many directions, it is probably not from God.
How to Listen
(by Elmer Towns)
- Get Ready- Have your Bible opened and notebook ready, and tune your faculties to the voice of God
- Get Quiet- If we want to hear from God, we must quit talking so that God can speak.
- Get Focused- God will not tell you an intimate thought, until He has your attention.
- Get Rid of Distractions- A quiet place is best but not always available. Learn to block out noises and distractions to listen to God. With little effort, you can focus on prayer, reading or meditation.
- Get Still- The secret is developing a “still spirit” a listening spirit- and not just a still body.” Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”