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
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power and gifts of the Spirit were withdrawn."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
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
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
Concerning Ezra, Edith Schaeffer writes in The Life
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
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
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.