Friday, February 25, 2011

Step #6 - The Spiritual Discipline of Fasting

an empty cupImage via Wikipedia
Welcome friends! I am glad you found my blog and I pray that my writings will guide you to finding peace in the presence of God and thankfulness in your trials so that you can live an abundantly free life in Christ.

Have you ever been so hungry that you thought you might faint before you could eat?  God has given us an inherent need to take in nourishment in order to live, but there's another kind of hunger - a spiritual hunger.  You'll know when you are spiritually hungry because you'll feel like you don't the strength to go on unless God answers your prayers!  Have you been there?  I have.

As I look around, I am becoming more and more aware that most people, whether believers in Christ or not,  are living defeated lives.  Maybe it's food that is defeating them or poor sleeping patterns, depression, a spending addiction leading to financial ruin, a failing marriage or all of the above (as is usually the case when mental illness is involved) and the feelings of hopelessness and self-pity rob us of the abundant life we so desperately desire. 

What has you defeated today?  These areas of defeat are also known as Strongholds of the enemy.  It is not God's will for you to live a defeated life.  Are you hungry enough for victory that you are willing to let God move in and through you in a way that you have not known before? 

God wants you, every part of you, and He reserves the right to disrupt your plans, your methods and even your strongly-held beliefs in order to accomplish His will in your life.  Even Jesus didn't have a one-method way of doing things.  He healed people in ways that threw the Pharisees into an uproar.  He was not at all bound by the "way-we've-always-done-it".

Fasting is certainly not a new method, but it may be new to you, an uncharted territory -  a method reserved for the extremely religious.  But that is not how God sees it.  God is delighted when we set aside our own inherent needs and seek Him first and foremost.  When we are hungry and raw before God, He is able to fill us with things beyond what we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
 
Many people have found that heavy burdens were relieved through fasting (Isaiah 58); wisdom was obtained through fasting (Daniel 10); revival came after fasting (Isaiah 58:6); God's protection from danger was secured through fasting (1 Kings 21: 27-29); healing for a sick loved one came after fasting (Psalm 35:13); demons were cast out after fasting (Matthew 17:21).

Fasting involves prayer, repentance, and the searching one's heart.  There must be a spiritual purpose to fasting otherwise, it is just a diet or cleanse.  I believe that fasting is one way to find deliverance from the strongholds of the enemy, those besetting sins that continue to plague us.
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen;To loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked to clothe him, and not turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call and the Lord will answer;
You will cry for help and He will say:  Here am I.   Isaiah 58:6
When we fast, we demonstrate the sincerity of our prayers and we allow God to transform us by the renewing of our mind.  When we are made new in the attitude of our mind (Eph 4:23), we are able to resist the devil and draw near to God.  This is the mental equipping we need to stand firm so that we will no longer fall into "slavery" to the enemy.

Although the Bible is not extremely detailed about how often or how long we should fast, here are some basic guidelines to get started:
  • Determine length of fast - start with a 24 hour fast (from sundown the first day to sundown the second). This means an early dinner the first night, but the joy of breaking the fast with dinner the second night
  • Determine the type of fast - a 24 hour fast is usually a complete fast, meaning no solid food, only liquid.  Refrain from liquids such as coffee, soda and alcoholic beverages.
  • Spend much more time in worship, prayer and scripture reading.  When fasting, do not be hurried or bound by the clock.  Instead, enjoy the fellowship with God while seeking His face.
  • Prepare your materials: Bible and journal.  Research ahead of time on the Internet specific books and scripture references about your specific area of stronghold that you can meditate upon.
  • Be prepared to search your heart for sin and ask God to help you have the right attitude of confession.  Consider those you need to forgive (see How To Forgive Someone Who Has Hurt Me). 
  • Pray, Pray, Pray!  Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  I find it helpful to journal my prayers. It helps to keep me focused and then I can also go back at a later time to see how God has answered my direct prayers.
  • Break your fast with a small meal so you don't get sick from over-indulgence.  You should eat your meal with the same attitude with which you fasted.  Just as you abstained from food to the glory of God, now you should eat to the glory of God.  So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God". (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Will you put it all on the table and allow God to make you new in the attitude of you mind?
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4: 22-24) 
A prayer for you to pray:
Heavenly Father, you say in your word the type of fast you have chosen is to loose the chains of injustice and set the oppressed free.  When I fast according to your word, then my healing will quickly appear.  When I cry for help, you will be right there!
Lead me and guide me, Lord, to the proper time to fast.  Give me the strength to deny myself in order that I may hear from you.  I am so hungry for you that I must fast.
Lord, guide me always and satisfy my needs in a sun-scorched land.  Strengthen my frame so that I will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail, then You will be called the repairer of all things broken (Isaiah 28:11-12)



Grace and peace be yours in abundance today~
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2 comments:

BARBIE said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog! I am looking forward to getting to know you more as well. This topic of fasting is something I am growing in. We seem to be so like minded. Looking forward to browsing around your site and following your journey.

editor said...

Thanks for this educative article about fasting,there was a time I was believing God for a miracle, I had to fast for three days without food.This is a weapon we use to fight the enemy( satan).