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  Power through Fasting  
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Releasing God's Power Through Fasting continued...

HOW DOES FASTING HELP?

Fasting is also a primary means of restoration. By humbling our souls, fasting releases the Holy Spirit to do His special work of revival in us. This changes our relationship with God forever, taking us into a deeper life in Christ and giving us a greater awareness of God's reality and presence in our lives.

Fasting reduces the power of self so that the Holy Spirit can do a more intense work within us. It also helps in other ways:

  • IT BRINGS A YIELDEDNESS, EVEN A HOLY BROKENNESS, RESULTING IN INNER CALM AND SELF-CONTROL.
  • IT RENEWS SPIRITUAL VISION AND FAITH.
  • IT INSPIRES DETERMINATION TO FOLLOW GOD'S REVEALED PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE.

The discipline of fasting made a powerful impact in the life of Andrew Murray, who wrote, "Fasting helps to express, to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice everything, [even] ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God."

FASTING BRINGS POWER

The early church recognized fasting as a means to obtaining spiritual power. In his book God's Chosen Fast, Arthur Wallis writes, "Fasting is calculated to bring a note of urgency and [persistence] into our praying, and to give force to our pleas in the court of heaven."

But over the years, Wallis continues, "as spirituality waned and worldliness flourished in the churches, the power and gifts of the Spirit were withdrawn."

This same spiritual erosion can and does occur in the life of the believer today. But God's Word declares fasting and prayer as a powerful means for causing the fire of God to fall again in a person's life.

This fire produces the fruit of the Spirit--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22)--but especially the fruit of righteousness and spiritual power over lusts of the flesh and the lies of the enemy of our souls.

In is book Fasting, author and teacher Derek Prince describes fasting as "a tremendous lesson in establishing who is the master and who is the servant. Remember, your body is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master." And, according to Galatians 5:17, the flesh, or carnal nature, always strives to be in control.

As fasting and prayer bring surrender of body, soul, and spirit to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, they also generate a heightened sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit; they create a fresh, clean joy and a restored determination to serve God. In short, they bring personal revival. Our spiritual power does not lie in money, genius, plans, or dedicated work. Rather, power for spiritual conquest comes from the Holy Spirit as people seek God's face in consecrated diligent prayer with fasting.

FASTING IN GOD'S WORD

As revealed by just a cursory look at any concordance, fasting is mentioned frequently in God's Holy Word. Often it is associated with weeping and other acts of humility before God. In Joel 2:12-13 the Lord commanded:

Return to me with all your heart, With fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God.

In the Old Testament, fasting was the way individuals and the people humbled themselves (Ps. 35:13; 69:10; Isa. 58:5). God's people have always fasted to humble themselves, to receive cleansing of their sins by effective repentance, for spiritual renewal, and for special helps. Ezra called a fast to seek God's protection for the Jews returning from Babylon to Jerusalem (Ezra 8:21).

Concerning Ezra, Edith Schaeffer writes in The Life of Prayer:

This serious fasting and prayer, bowing humbly before God with repentance and concern for His mercy, took place in the context of practical need--for protection and guidance, for help in choices and for the supply of material things.

In the New Testament, Luke records the account of a prophetess named Anna who in her eighties "never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying" (Luke 2:37).

Jesus set the example by fasting forty days after His baptism. For Jesus it was a matter of when believers would fast, not if they would do it. He spoke in these terms: "When you give to the needy...when you pray...when you fast" (Matthew 6:2,5,16).

Prophets and teachers fasted at Antioch (Acts 13:1-2), and Paul--who wrote much of the New Testament--said he was "in fastings often" (2 Cor. 11:27 NKJV).

For believers, then, the question is not "Should I fast?" but " When will I fast?"

WHEN TO FAST

Some teach that you should fast only when led or prompted by the Holy Spirit to do so. But being led by the Spirit and hearing the Spirit involve a highly subjective, personal area of the Christian life. Believers do not always hear accurately, especially if God is asking them to do something they do not want to do.

The flesh will surely try to override inner promptings to abstain from food. God may be calling you to fast, but the flesh may be saying, "That's just your imagination. How is fasting going to get you out of this situation?"

Once you learn the purpose and benefits of fasting, you are free to proclaim a fast whenever you sense the desire to draw close to God in a dynamic way or feel the need to seek special help from Him.

Those who consistently practice fasting know instinctively when to do so. They recognize certain spiritual conditions and life circumstances as the signal to "bear down" spiritually. I try to live according to Philippeans 2:13: "It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."

In his book Fasting: A Biblical Historical Study, by R.D. Chatham tells of a pastor's wife who kept a diary of her fasts. She recorded how she and her husband were changing pastorates and felt overwhelmed by their new responsibilities and realized they needed God's help. Together they fasted for ten days. She said that if she had not fasted--and as a result received special strength from the Lord--she would have "gone under."

Of course, the still, small voice of the Spirit, always consistent with the Word of God, will tell us what to do if we will only listen. There are times when the Holy Spirit will prompt you to fast. On another page in her diary, the pastor's wife reported, "Monday: I awoke feeling the need to go on a fast." Such prompting of the Holy Spirit can come anytime, anyplace.

It is particularly important to receive a leading of the Lord before beginning an extended spiritual fast. If you undertake a long fast simply on your own, you may run into difficulties. But if the Lord leads you into a protracted fast, He will give you the strength to carry it out.

In 1994 God impressed me over a period of several months that He wanted me to fast for forty days. But I was not sure I could fast for that long. Even so, I began my fast with the prayer, "Lord, I will fast as long as You will enable me. I am looking to You to help me. I am claiming Your promise recorded in Isaiah 40:31, "Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint" (NKJV). God was faithful to His promise. That fast was the greatest forty days of my life spiritually up until that time.

I have since fasted with great blessing for forty days in 1995 and again in 1996. In 1997, as I write, I am beginning my fourth forty-day fast. My wife, Vonette, is joining me in this adventure to seek God's face.

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Content Editor Peter Benson -- no copyright, except where noted.  Please feel free to use this material for instruction and edification
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