Good morning everyone. I pray you had a wonderful weekend. We were able to enjoy a bit of cooler weather, if you can call the 90's cooler. At least we weren't in the 100's again and we got a little rain that was much needed.
Fasting. What comes to mind when you think of this? Do you automatically think you have to starve yourself? Do you think that fasting is solely devoted to going without food? Have you ever fasted? Do you know how to fast, or what you might fast for?
It is ironic that God would lead me to this subject. This past Saturday we had our monthly men's prayer breakfast. Here is how this ties together. While we ate a wonderful meal, we were meeting to pray, but the Bible teaches that prayer and fasting go together like peanut butter and jelly. Let's look at some scriptures.
Isaiah 58:5 says, “ You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord? Matthew 4:1-2 says, “ 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.” Matthew 6:16-18 says, “16 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.17 But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face.18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” Joel 2:12 says, “12 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.” Ezra 8:23 says, “ So we fasted and earnestly prayed that our God would take care of us, and he heard our prayer.” SCRIPTURES FROM THE NLT BIBLE
The Bible should be our ultimate authority for all of life. Anything and everything we will face in life, can be solved by the scriptures. Prayer and fasting are two things that some people seem to take lightly. I don't think any of us fully grasp the seriousness of what we are doing, or we all would melt into shame, realizing that we are calling on the most Holy of holy s, the Creator of everything. In old testament times, a priest would have a rope tied around his leg so that if he went into the holy of holy's, in God's presence to pray, and was unclean himself and died, he could be pulled out.
How and why do we, or should we fast? Some people cannot go without food due to medical reasons or maybe because of medications they may be taken. In these cases, you can choose to fast from something else. Maybe you will skip one meal a day. Maybe you will skip the news for so many days. Maybe you will give up reading the newspaper for a period of time. Maybe you will give up all electronic devices for a period of time. The point of fasting, is to give up something you will miss, and replace that with time with God.
If you skip lunch everyday for a week, you would use that time to read God's word and pray. If you decided to skip the nightly news, you would use that time to find quiet time for just you and God. You have to remember that communing with God is not just us always going to Him with this long laundry list of “stuff”, it is also reading His Word and giving Him time to speak to us and show us things that we may never otherwise realize. Most of us miss out on so much because we fail to give God His time with us. A time of silence, away from the TV, phone, computer, cell phone, tablets, IPod, mp3 players, video games and so on and so on. We try to squeeze Him in for a minute here or there and instead of giving Him our best, we give Him what's left.
For a successful fast you need to remember a few things. You should only do this if you are feeling led by the Holy Spirit to do so. First, you must seek the Spirit's leading to clarify what it is you are fasting for. Is it for spiritual renewal, for guidance, for someone else? He will enable you to pray more specifically. Remember, through prayer and fasting we humble ourselves before God so the Holy Spirit can stir our souls and awaken our churches. Second, you should start reasonably. Don't set your goal too high. Do not rush into a fast. Prepare yourselves for what you are going to do, so that you will succeed rather than fail. Third, stay committed. Don't give up. See it through to the end and God will reveal things to you, like you have never known. Forth, start your fast with resolve. Keep God's Word open, listen, give Him the opportunity to show you things. Fifth, stopping your fast. If you have given up food, ease back into eating again. Don't binge eat. If it is something other than food, ask yourselves if you really need to spend the time doing what you fasted from. Finally, if you sincerely humble yourselves before the Lord, repent, pray and meditate on God's Word, you will experience a heightened awareness of His presence, (John 14:21). You will find yourself to be mentally, physically and spiritually renewed, (Romans 12:1,2).
Ultimately the key to prayer and fasting is a sound confidence in the Word of God. Making the study of God's Word a priority will enable you to pray effectively.
Remember: Fasting is between you and God. If you expect to get something from Him, you have to do it His way, and that is private.
Until next time, please continue to pray for each other, and me, as I continue to pray for each of you.
Love in CHRIST,
Bethel Baptist Church