Fasting- just the word can make you sweat. We all love to satisfy our body and our emotions with food, entertainment, social media, etc. I will admit that I have not been very successful at fasting in the past. I just don’t like it. I typically start off with good intentions, but cave at some point. Fasting is not a subject that I’ve given much thought until this past Sunday when we started our 21 days of Prayer and fasting at church. We do this every year and I typically give up something, but nothing too difficult. However, this year, God urged me to be committed. I share this not out of desire for anyone to know that I’m fasting. I believe that fasting, prayer and good deeds should be done quietly- for God’s approval and glory only. But I feel that I need to share what God so adamantly impressed upon me this week.
“Fasting doesn’t manipulate God into doing what you want. It prepares you for His answers. Chris Hodges”
Two years ago I received news that shattered my world. It was news that no mother or father ever wants to hear. Without details, I will just say that my only child had walked off down a path of rebellion and sin. As a parent, I had ignored all the signs, but one phone call verified everything that my mind had questioned but my heart would not allow me to believe. It’s been the worst two years of my life in that respect, but the best in terms of learning the true love and grace of God (but that’s for another story).
I’ve prayed, I’ve begged, I’ve sought help, I’ve done everything I possibly know to do. When sin is willfully chosen, it soon leads to a life of bondage. It starts with flirting with the sin, dating the sin and eventually the sin becomes a special relationship. I don’t think anyone flirts with the sin intending to become a slave to the sin. But that’s what happens. During this time, God constantly put a couple of verses in my heart- “Be still and know that I am God”- Psalm 46:10 and “My grace is sufficient in all circumstances”- II Cor. 12:9. These verses have been a lifeline during the darkest of days.
On Sunday, I heard a story that I’ve heard many times- Mark 9:14-29 A man brought his son to the disciples. The son would be seized by a spirit and fall down foaming at the mouth. He had been this way since childhood. The spirit had thrown him in fire and water. It tried to kill him. The disciples (that had performed many miracles) could not drive out the spirit. When Jesus came, he asked the father if he believed, then commanded the spirit to leave. The boy was immediately set free. Later the disciples ask Jesus why they could not cast the demon out, Jesus responded, “This kind will come out only be prayer and fasting”. This spirit was a stronghold. It wasn’t willing to let go.
God doesn’t want his children to live in bondage. He wants to free each and every one of them just as he freed this boy.
He gives us Steps to Freedom from Bondage:
- Faith- the father had believed that Jesus was who he said he was. Our fear will diminish our faith. We have to dive into God’s word and know the promises that he has for us.
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God- Romans 10:17
- Prayer- Prayer is our lifeline to God. He wants our consistent communication- a relationship with us and when we are in need he urges us to cry out to him.
Declare a holy fast and cry out to the Lord- Joel 1:14
- Fasting- many times in scripture leaders called for fasting in the land. Paul fasted. Daniel fasted. Jesus fasted. Fasting deprives our body and our soul so that our spirit can be what is driving us. Our bodies are made up of body (our physical desires), soul (our emotional desires), and spirit (our God cleansed inner man). Only one of these can dominate at any time.
- In Acts 9- Paul was blinded with a light from Damascus, for three days he was blind and did not eat or drink. After the three days, Ananias came and it was like scales that fell from Paul’s eyes. He could see; not only physically, but spiritually. He spent the rest of his days preaching the gospel. He was freed from the bondage that he had lived in.
- In Daniel 10- Daniel was concerned about the coming of a great war. Daniel fasted for three weeks. He ate no choice foods, no meat or wine touched his lips until the three weeks were over.
- Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights prior to going to the cross. He had to deny his body and his emotions to remain faithful to his calling and purpose.
- Abraham Lincoln called for a nationwide fast. After the fast the US was in surplus for 75 years!
Each of these men of God understood the power of prayer and fasting. It was not just for the biblical days, but for us now.
For my situation, God has already promised me that he would redeem and restore. I have no doubt that He will. But I have diligently prayed for Him to show me what I could do. This is what he has shown me. At this time, I can be still, realized his grace, and pray and fast. Do you have a stronghold that grips you or a loved one? If so, have faith, pray and fast.
If so, please consider prayer and fasting. For the next 21 days (20 now) churches around the US will be participating. Some churches have daily prayer live and on- line that you can participate in.