THE FAST GOD SEEKS
I have a confession to make. I fast, but I’m not sure it’s the fast that God seeks. My reality is that I often let “busyness” and hunger, routine, and laziness get in the way. I let satan convince me that it isn’t doing any good. I let it become a chore. I let my stomach tell me that I couldn’t do it. I need to eat. I let my schedule overrule my commitment. I let it become laborious with no delight. I was praying and fasting halfheartedly, with no conviction or power (Isaiah 58:37). Then one day, I reasoned, since this isn’t working, what kind of fast does God want?
Scripture Isaiah 58:6-7 – “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
God gave us many examples of people fasting and praying. Moses fasted on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:28). Hannah fasted when she prayed for a son (I Samuel 1:7). David fasted (2 Samuel 1: 12; 12:22) and Daniel (Daniel 10:2-3). Esther and the Jews fasted when they faced persecution and extinction (Esther 4:1-17). Jesus fasted for 40 days while in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2). Anna served God by fasting (Luke 2:37). Paul fasted after his Damascus Road experience (Acts 9:9). Cornelius fasted while seeking God (Acts 10:30), and John the Baptist taught his disciples how to fast (Mark 2:18). Jehoshaphat and Ezra declared national fasts (2 Chronicles 20:3, Ezra 8:21), and the Antioch church fasted before commissioning Paul and Barnabas for their first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-3). It’s obvious that fasting and praying are important.
For more guidance, the Holy Spirit directed me to Ezra 8:21-23. I was reminded that fasting and prayer, when done with a humble, believing and loving spirit can and does please and move God. Fasting and praying bring a note of urgency to our specific prayer requests and are also expressions of our love and worship for God (Luke 2:37).
I also read and studied to better understand how I should fast and pray and discovered (or re-discovered) the following:
- I must come humbly before the Lord (I Kings 21:27-29)
- I can use this time to seek God’s guidance regarding my purpose or an answer to a dilemma and to ask that God show me how to be receptive to His guidance (Exodus 33:12-16, 34:28)
- I can use this time to seek deliverance or protection from “the enemy,” whether that be a person, a state of being (my health), my anxious thoughts, etc. (2 Chronicles 20:3-4)
- I can express repentance and recommit myself to God ( I Samuel 7:6, Matthew 4:11)
- I can ask for strength or share my concerns as I go about doing the work of the Lord (Nehemiah 1:3-4)
- I can intentionally work to meet the needs of those in need as an expression of God’s call for our fast (Isaiah 58:3-7)
- I can fast from more than just food. Fasting is about my sacrifice (Romans 13:14) and about extending myself beyond my comfort zone on behalf of others (Isaiah 58:6-7)
To engage in the type of fast that I believe God has called me to, I used an excellent resource, The 40-day Surrender Fast, by Celeste C. Owens. This journal transformed my prayer life. I learned the following:
- Humility – “Humility is not a thing we bring to God. It is also not a thing God gives to us. It is simply the realization of what nothings we are when we truly see how God is Everything, and when we clear out room in our hearts so that He can be everything for us.”
- Sacrifice – My surrender delights God. Hosea 10:12 reminded me that the reward requires sacrifice, commitment and time. Changing my thoughts is way more difficult than abstaining from food. And it’s not always tangible. The story of Elijah reminds us that God provides what’s needed when it’s needed, and sometimes He has to dry up the brook to get us to shift, to do something new (I Kings 17:7).
- Expect the Unexpected – You must believe that God will do the impossible. My radical act of faith is believing that God can and will do the impossible. The scripture reminds us to “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).” The abundant thing, that thing beyond my “fast outcomes,” that thing I’ve been praying for and hoping for, that thing that’s immeasurably beyond my hopes and dreams, that thing that I’m declaring in Jesus’s name will come to pass! I believe it and claim it in Jesus’ name. Amen.
- Fasting is Beneficial – A more intimate relationship with God, improved emotional health, and breakthroughs in many areas of your life.
- God’s Promises are True – “It may not look like it right now, but every promise that God has made to you will come to pass. If you abide in Him, He will protect you and the dream He planted in your heart so long ago. It’s easy to become discouraged and discontent from today’s vantage point. But our “now” doesn’t necessarily reflect our tomorrow.”
- Our thoughts and words have power – “We are told in Proverbs 18:21 that life and death are in the power of the tongue and James 3:10 that the tongue can speak both blessings and curses. Statements like “I don’t believe that I will, but if I do,” can leave room for doubt and for the occurrence of the doubt to be fulfilled. God challenges us to establish our faith; to say aloud the words our soul has longed to hear.”
- Be Still and Know – “In Mark 6, Jesus instructed His disciples to take a break from labor. He knew that in their rest, they would find renewal and the strength to be productive in the next leg of their race. All busy behavior is driven by pride. Your pride drives you to believe that you can’t stop, you are indispensable, and that others can’t make it without you. But that is a trick of the enemy to keep you busy and unproductive.”
- The enemy isn’t happy. “He will attack. – Don’t be surprised when everything that could go wrong does. In his frustration with you, the enemy has declared all-out war but be encouraged. The scripture reminds us, “Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world (I John 4:4). Accordingly, you have authority over the enemy, and he must conform to your commands. The enemy isn’t interested in your comfort. He will continue to mess with you though you are frustrated, angry and tearful. No matter what, will your mind to come under subjection to the Holy Spirit. Be a good soldier and endure until the end.”
- Waiting is a superpower – “There is nothing simple about waiting; it defies our nature. The flesh wants everything right now, this instant. However, it is said that anything worth having is worth waiting for, and God’s blessings are certainly worth the wait. Stop trying to make things happen in your own strength. If God said it, He will do it. Isaiah 55:11 reads, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
Some ways that you can fast are as follows:
- Fast from Food – I recommend that if you are going to fast from food, you begin with fasting from a particular food like sugar or processed foods. Or you could engage in the Daniel Fast (Daniel-fast-guidelines ). If you choose to fast from all form of food and consume only liquids, I recommend you seek medical guidance to ensure your health and safety.
- Fast from an Activity – I recommend you try a fast from anything that may be keeping you from experiencing greater breakthrough and intimacy with God. For example, you may fast from social media (yes, I said it), or watching television, shopping, eating out, morning coffee, etc.
- Fast from a Negative Behavior – I recommend you consider fasting from negative behaviors like gossiping, procrastination, negative thoughts and speech, etc.
- Make a Sacrifice of Your Time – Commit to engage in the Word and in prayer for at least 30 minutes or more each day. Commit to praying for someone else. Commit to journaling.
So today, I am recommitting myself to praying and fasting God’s way. I will talk less about how wonderful and powerful our God is and act as if I truly believe this. I will tap into this incredible power that we have inside of us and strive to do even greater things than the disciples did (John 14:12-14)!
- How does Isaiah 58:6-7 speak to you?
- What has your past experience with fasting been? Why have you or haven’t you fasted in the past?
- What is something new that you have learned about fasting?
- How might your fasting practices change?
- What reservations do you have about fasting?
- What steps can you take to overcome your reservations?
- What are your personal LIFE Lessons?
- Liberation: What new insights have you gained that have freed you from past thoughts and practices?
- Inspiration: In what ways have you been spiritually, emotionally and mentally motivated to live for Christ?
- Fortification: What additional scriptural texts, passages or stories can reinforce and strengthen you against the attacks of the enemy?
- Edification: How might you share your story to edify others and bring glory to God?
As you process, digest, and apply what’s been shared, here are a couple of songs from my Playlist. Listen, Let the music infiltrate your soul. Read the lyrics and let the words encourage you. And I pray that you’ll be blessed as I was.
- Living Sacrifice by Brandon Lake – Living Sacrifice – Brandon Lake | House of Miracles (Live)(Lyrics)
- Is Your All on the Altar by Yolanda Adams – Yolanda Adams- Is Your All On The Altar?
Dear Heavenly Father, Forgive me for fasting to feel good about myself. Forgive me for fasting so that others will think that I am holy and righteous. Help my sacrifice be a form of worship to You, oh God (Romans 12:1). Help this be an opportunity for me to draw closer to You (James 4:8); and as a way to be strengthened in mind, body and soul. Help my fast to be the one that you require. Help me be concerned about those heavily burdened, oppressed, hungry, naked, and cast out. Help me esteem others above myself and sacrifice my time and resources. Help me to let go of everything that’s keeping me from you. Help me resist temptation. I pray I turn to You Oh God to comfort, fill and settle me. I surrender my all to you! And I wait in great expectation of the transformation, the revelation, and the manifestation of Your power in my life and the lives of others. In Your most holy name Jesus, I pray, Amen.