Sunday, September 24, 2023
Sunday, September 24, 2023
HomeAll The NewsHEALTHY CHURCH: When You Fast

HEALTHY CHURCH: When You Fast

Jesus was asked in Matt. 9:14-15 why He and His disciples did not fast like the Pharisees and others. He responded, “the time will come when the groom will be taken from them, and then they will fast…” (HCSB). Jesus let them know that once He ascended back to the Father there would be fasting. This would coincide with a longing for the “not yet” of His kingdom here on earth.

Fasting is a physical exclamation point on the end of desiring Him and saying, “I need You, Lord! I want You, Lord! I want more of Your presence and power in my life.” The heart of fasting is a longing. You are putting your stomach where your heart is.

Fasting adds intensity and expressiveness to our ache for Jesus to be in control of every area of our soul — spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual and relational. Fasting expresses your passion for Jesus’ power to be realized in every area of your life at this very moment. Do you desire to see more people saved? Do you desire to see more marriages restored? Do you desire to be filled continuously by the Holy Spirit? Do you desire to bear the fruit of the Spirit? Do you long for biblical repentance and a return to a total commitment to His commands and His Word? Fasting declares that there is something more important to you than food.

Fasting not only has the positive side of longing and increased commitment, it also exposes idols in your life and anything that is controlling you. When you are not being medicated by food, what comes out of your heart? Fasting can expose anger, lust, unforgiveness, pride and anything else you desire more than Him.

A 24-hour fast is a good place to start because this spiritual discipline is a positive expression of a burden in your heart and the negative exposure of the condition of your heart. There are particular strongholds in our lives that will only be broken down and removed through prayer and fasting.

Fasting adds an intensity to how serious you are about removing sin from your life, His intervention in someone else’s life, discernment, wisdom and His direction. Psalm 139:23-24 gives us a template for this: search me, test me, point out to me, and lead me. Satan’s greatest fear is the presence of God, and he is constantly tempting you to do anything that will abort God’s presence from your life and your church. Whether it is selfishness, conflict, unforgiveness, sinful behavior or even heresy, all of these things indicate God’s absence. You must make it the goal of your life to do everything to ensure God’s presence.

Fasting is a spiritual discipline that invites Jesus back into the equation by showing Him how serious you really are. Bob Roberts Jr. states, “There is only one thing worse than God’s judgment on the church, and that is His absence.” God’s manifest presence begins in your quiet time as you seek Him daily and sit at His feet. Do not squander this precious opportunity to abide in Him. Beginning your day with prayer ensures that you want to discover and follow His agenda, not yours. This daily steady continual commitment cannot be overstated but you should also consider spending extended times seeking Him.

In Presence Centered Church, Bill Elliff gives this insight: “Any leader who desires to experience the presence must make deliberate time to dial in… Usually you will make more progress in this one day of concentrated communion than in a whole week of scattered thinking.” In this focused prayer time, fasting increases your ability to make sure you are dialed into the right frequency. Fasting can quiet us and usher us, in a very special way, into His presence. Psalm 35:13 says: “Yet when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting, and my prayer was genuine.”

Fasting allows you to say “no” to the many things that are always striving for your attention and control. Bill Elliff adds this on fasting, “You experience an amazing quiet when the voices that pull you in multiple directions are starved and silenced.” 

An extended time of seeking and being in His presence (a day or more) along with fasting enables you to give Him your attention and only Him. Remember, Jesus did not say “if” you fast but “when” you fast. This intentional, focused time reminds you that your perspective is limited but His perspective is unlimited. Fasting settles you into His agenda because you have quieted all the other voices.

Through prayer and fasting, you are giving your attention to Him and nothing but Him. You are stating, with even greater intensity, “All I need is You!” You are pursuing Him and what He desires more than what you desire by walking away from the noise, activities, busyness and even the satisfaction of a good meal.

Elmer Towns states: “Fasting should be combined with prayer. God called us to fast and pray. If you are fasting a certain meal of the day, use the time you would normally be eating to pray. The combination of prayer and fasting is a powerful way to focus on seeking God for breakthroughs and answers to prayer.”

Here are some great resources for you to make your time more profitable:

• Fasting for Spiritual Break Through by Elmer L. Towns.

These next resources are free PDF files we will share if you email us and request them at larry@bmaam.com or heidi@bmaam.com):

• “Personal Revival Checklist” by Bill Elliff;

• “10 Different Types of Fasts in the Bible” by Elmer Towns; and

• “Put on the Armor of God” by Dr. Charles Stanley.

Also, contact us if you are interested in our regional prayer retreats or in us showing you a way that you, personally or your church, can have a prayer retreat.

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