Fasting - A Lost Art of The Church

Posted by Dion Todd August 15th, 2016 5,509 Views 0 Comments

Fasting - A Lost Art of The Church

 

Fasting - A Lost Art of The Church from Refreshing Hope Ministries on Vimeo.

This is the recording from Refreshing Hope - Live, 08.15.2016. Here are the notes:

Do you want see God move in your life? Have you ever felt like things have become stagnant and that the fire has gone out? Do you want to carry the power of the Holy Spirit everywhere you go? Then you need to know about fasting.

Every Christian believes that you should pray, many believe in giving, but fasting is by large, a lost part of the Christian walk. I will share some of my life with you and what I have learned about fasting if you care to read on. This will be a brief guide to the power of fasting.

What is fasting?:
Fasting is abstaining from food for spiritual purposes and intentionally seeking God for a set time. Though there are examples in the Bible of people abstaining from food and water, we will discuss abstaining from food for safety.

- Fasting will help you rekindle that fire and draw closer to God. James 4:8 reads “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”

- Fasting will set you free from things that bind you. When you have not eaten in a week, you will not be thinking about that bad habit…that will be the least of your concerns. Practicing fasting will help you live a disciplined life.

- Fasting will give you a deeper understanding of God’s word as His Holy Spirit will become real to you.

- Fasting will help you find direction in your life when you do not know which way to turn. Impossible things will suddenly resolve themselves.

- Fasting will cause you to be very sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Hearing a simple praise song will sometimes make you feel like you are being enveloped in a warm blanket. You will come to know the Comforter intimately.

Fasting “Humbles” us. It humbles our soul. God can humiliate you, but only you can humble yourself. Don’t pray for God to make you humble, humiliated is the best that you will get.

We are a triune being having a Spirit, Soul, and Body. The Soul is the “Ego”, the “I”. The soul says:
* I want…
* I think…
* I feel…

Fasting is the biblical way to bring this inline with God. It is the biblical method of humbling ourselves. Daniel sought the Lord in prayer and set out on a twenty-one day vegan type fast, where he ate “no pleasant food, no meat, or wine.”

Dan. 10:12 Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

1Pet. 5:5 “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.

Num. 12:3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.) Moses was also the most powerful man alive on the earth.


Fasting in the life of Jesus:
Fasting is mentioned all through the Bible, but I am mostly going to focus on Jesus, who is our example. First let’s cover the basics of whether fasting is even biblical and relevant to us.

- Jesus is our example and He fasted for forty days before He began His earthly ministry (Matt 4:2). He probably drank water and fasted from food because at the end, He was hungry, but not thirsty.

- Giving, praying, and fasting were to be a part of His disciples lives. In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus said:
- When you Give to the needy (Matt 6:2)
- When you Pray (Matt 6:5)
- When you Fast (Matt 6:16)

- Jesus said that one day, the Bridegroom would be taken away and in those days, His disciples would fast. He has now been taken away and these are now the days that He spoke of.

And they said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?” And He said to them, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days.” (Luke 5:33–35 NKJV).

- Some strongholds require fasting and prayer together. In Matthew 17 the disciples of Jesus ran into a demon of epilepsy that they could not cast out. When they brought the boy to Jesus, He cast it out. When the disciples asked Him why they could not, He said: “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:21 NKJV)

Why did people fast?
Fasting brings the power of God into your life. Jesus was baptized and full of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1) but after fasting forty days and beating the temptation, He came out in the “Power” of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:14) and began His ministry on earth. There were no recorded miracles before His fast.

Fasting clears the airways where you can hear the Lord speaking to you. In Luke 2:36, a widow named Anna prayed and fasted at the temple and recognized the baby Jesus immediately. Also, she was in the right place at the right time.

The Apostles fasted and prayed before they made big decisions, sent out missionaries (Acts 13:3), or appointed leaders (Acts 14:23).

David fasted for mercy (2Sam 12:22). Judah fasted when in trouble (2Chr 20:3). Ezra fasted for protection (Ezra 8:21). Nehemiah fasted in repentance (Neh 1:4). Esther fasted for favor (Esth 4:16). Daniel fasted for wisdom and insight (Daniel 9:3). The people of Nineveh repented with fasting and God spared their city (Jonah 3:5).


Fasting is to humble yourself, not to draw attention:
As with many other things, when religious people show off their pious acts to call attention to themselves, they will get no reward from God. If you fast to be seen by men, then you already have your reward. The word “Hypocrite” means “Actor.”

Jesus said: “And whenever you are fasting, do not look gloomy and sour and dreary like the hypocrites, for they put on a dismal countenance, that their fasting may be apparent to and seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full already.” (Matthew 6:16 AMP)

After Esther fasted, she put on her royal robes and went in to see the king. The king did not know, or see her fasting. She hid it from him. We should fast as privately as possible, unless it is a group fast.

We have been on many fasts over the years, and at first we were very paranoid about telling anyone, but that became a bondage in itself. When you are on a fast and someone asks you to dinner, you should not have to make up lies as to why you cannot go. So now we operate on a need-to-know basis. If a friend invites us to dinner during a fast, we just honestly tell them that we are on a fast right now, maybe we can catch up later. They understand, and we do not have to come up with excuses.

Some ways that fasting changed my own life:
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Once we were fasting for seven days and on the last day, I went into my prayer room and felt that we were supposed to fast on until 10 days. We were already planning our breakfast menu so, I ignored it. When I came out of my prayer room, and my wife from hers, we sat down at the table and she said “I believe that we are supposed to fast 10 days.” I looked at the clock and it was 10:10. I knew that it was the Lord speaking, so we continued on.

On the tenth day, my son who had not spoken to me because of past divorce drama, drove up in my yard and we talked for the first time in years. My wife and I went to a family thanksgiving dinner and it suddenly became a prayer meeting. With all the nephews home from jail, we lined them up and as we prayed for them, they crumpled to the floor in tears. There was power flowing from us. My brother looked at me and said “I don’t know what you have done, but you are really on fire.”

When we visited our church that Sunday, the pastor’s wife asked us to pray for her, so we sat her in a chair and anointed her with oil. As we prayed she felt like her chair was being spun in a circle and that she was being lifted into the air. When she returned to us, with her eyes wide, she exclaimed that she had never experienced anything like that. We were carrying the power of the Holy Spirit, and it was fasting that brought it out.

———————————————————————————

Over the years, I began to fast longer. I started with three days, then seven days, then two weeks, then three weeks, then thirty days, then forty days. I can share story after story of where a hopeless situation became a blessing by fasting. Eventually the Lord put me into ministry, but the miracles produced by fasting continue.

Not that long ago, I was working for a Christian company when the Lord began speaking to me to step back. I could not understand why He would want me leave my great job. I loved my job and it was the first time in my life that I got to work in a Christian environment. But the nagging feeling continued and my dreams were increasingly plagued with bad things like cars running off the road, or rolling backwards with no brakes and such.

Frustrated I started a forty-day juice fast to clear the air where I could get a better answer. I ate no food during this time, but lived off of water and vegetable juice. A couple of weeks into the fast, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was supposed to leave that job and there were no doors open elsewhere. In blind faith I gave my notice and started updating my resume to look for work. Quitting a good job in your forties is usually not that smart. I did not understand, but I knew that the Lord was speaking to me.

On the last week of our fast, the owner called me and told me that he had spent the weekend in prayer and the Lord told him to turn the ministry over to me. I went into the fast looking at becoming jobless and facing unemployment, and came out of the fast in our own ministry. We then incorporated as Refreshing Hope Ministries.

Fasting will cause the right things to happen even when you do not know what they are.

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Health Concerns:
I have done fasts for over twenty-five years and the only health changes that I have encountered were positive. If you are on prescription medication or have physical problems like diabetes, then maybe you should consult your doctor before starting a fast.

In my experience, fasting has brought healing. A few years ago, I began having severe stomach problems, much like irritable bowel syndrome and it was becoming increasingly difficult to attend prayer meetings and such. I was so embarrassed because every time that it would get quiet to pray, my stomach would go to rumbling and churning uncontrollably, almost like it could sense the silence.

That August, we did a 30-day juice fast with fresh squeezed vegetable juice made out of kale, celery, carrots, apples and the like. By the third week we felt fifteen years younger and where we would usually come home from work and crash in the recliner exhausted, we would go walk on the beach for an hour. We felt great and had more energy than normal. By the end of the fast, my stomach problems had gone completely away and they have never returned. Something was built up in my system and giving it a reboot gave it time to heal properly. That or I received some deliverance during the fast, either way the problem was gone.

We have a great friend that is in his eighties and was having problems with his blood pressure, cholesterol and being sleepy all the time. He began replacing his lunch with fresh vegetable juice and his doctors are amazed at his progress. His blood pressure came down, he has lost weight, he is alert and his cholesterol has came into balance. Even fasting a meal has benefits.

When to fast:
There is no real set time to fast for a Christian. Certainly when the Lord calls you to fast, He will give you the grace and it is easy. But if we find that He has not called us to fast in a long time, then we declare a fast anyway and just set a start and stop date.

We used to fast every Wednesday from morning to morning with only water. Later we changed to fasting ten days a month, one full week and three Wednesdays. For a while we fasted one week a month. Lately we have done a “Daniel Fast” for the month of April and a “Juice Fast” for the month of August.

There is no wrong time to fast, though personally, I do not like long fasts in the winter months because you are already cold and empty and the cold weather seems to magnify it. There is nothing like a warm bowl of soup on a cold winters day and replacing that with a glass of cold water will leave a memory that you will not soon forget. I stick to the warmer months for long fasts, though a few days we may do anytime for a quick tune-up.

Types of fasts:
There are many types of fasts mentioned in the Bible. I will cover some of them below:

Exodus 34:28 Moses fasted forty days and nights with no food or water because he was in the supernatural presence of God. Warning: do not try this at home, unless you are literally standing in the Lord’s presence. Water is vital to your body functions and going without water for more than three days can kill you. I would not recommend fasting without water unless you have a clear word from the Lord.

Esther 4:16 Esther and her young women fasted three days and nights without food or water before she went in to see the king. She needed emergency help from the Lord and took drastic measures - hence, no water.

Daniel 10:2 Daniel did a twenty-one day vegan type fast where he “ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.” We do this fast sometimes and find it refreshing. We eat salads, vegetables, fruits and nuts along with water. After a few weeks we have a sharper mind, feel better and our spiritual ears are restored. It is a completely valid fast from the Bible that almost anyone can do.

Luke 4:2 Jesus fasted forty days and nights, probably on just water. Luke said that He ate nothing, and afterwards was hungry but it does not mention water or being thirsty.

Jonah 3:6 The city of Nineveh did a corporate fast and even the livestock were not allowed to eat or drink. Though Jonah had declared that the city would be destroyed in forty days, when they humbled themselves, God showed them mercy and turned away. Desperate times called for desperate actions.

Typically for us we do a Daniel fast and eat vegetables, fruit and nuts, or a juice fast where we live off only water and vegetable juice. Straight water is a great fast but if you go very long and work, you will have no energy at all. Still, this is the way that I fasted when I was younger and still do occasionally. I usually lose 1 pound+ of body weight a day during a straight water fast. That is ok for the short term, but not that good for a forty day fast for me lest the wind blow me away.

I know some people that fast from reality television because it means that much to them. I believe that you can give up anything for a while as a fast, but replace that time with something that will draw you closer to God.

I have found as I get older that water fasts are more difficult because I need energy to keep working. So a couple of years ago, we started juice fasting and it has been great for us. Sometimes we actually have more energy and feel like going for a walk on the beach after work. On a recent forty day fast, I ate no food but I drank about anything that I wanted. That said, there are things that do not work well on an empty stomach like coffee or milk. I mostly lived on:

* Water ( with a little lemon juice - great for cleansing your system and dissolving kidney stones )
* Almond Milk ( Very good - has a little protein )
* Fresh vegetable juice from a juicer
* Apple Juice
* Cranberry Juice

I avoided things with caffeine like coffee and tea. I also avoided dairy products because of gas and bloating.

What to expect:
When you start drawing close to God and intentionally seeking His face, the enemy will come to stop you. When Jesus went on His fast, the enemy came to tempt Him. It will happen to you as well. Bad attitudes, road rage, and things that you thought were not in you will rise to the top. God causes this junk to show itself so that it can be dealt with and you can get rid of it. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

When you decide to fast, be resolute. Determine what you are going to allow and for how long, and do not waver. Set a start and stop date and do not tweak your diet as you go forward. If you allow any room for doubt, the enemy will hound you everyday. You are building discipline. Compromise is counter productive. Do not give the enemy an inch.

Prepare yourself. We make plans to go on a fast now and start clearing out our refrigerator and getting rid of the things that would tempt us. The week before, we change to a very light diet to make the transition easier. For example, on our last forty day juice fast, we ate salads, vegetables and some grilled fish the week before we began the actual fast. We adapted to it much better than a sudden stop. Also the extra fiber will help keep your system from becoming constipated when you stop eating at all.

Know that at times you may feel real hunger pains, but your body does not really need food. Your stomach operates by habit. If you have a couple of glasses of water, it will fool your stomach and the pains will subside.

Drink lots and lots of water or other liquids. This will flush out your kidneys as your body is detoxing, helps break down body fat and process it, and many other health benefits. Your body needs water to operate properly. Try and avoid coffee and tea as they are both stimulants and for me at least, do not set well on an empty stomach.

Make time to spend in prayer every day of the fast. I like to keep a journal and make small notes each day during the fast, write down what the Lord reveals to me and the dreams that I have. It is great to meditate on later. Also, create a prayer list of things that you want to see happen in your life and begin to pray over those every day. When they come to pass, scratch them off. By the end of my last long fast, my prayer list was empty.

When you start to eat again, ease back into it with some vegetables and salads. Going for a giant steak will wreak havoc on your digestive system and I say that from experience. This is often easier said than done.

Your stomach will have shrunk after a lengthy fast and though you may feel that you can eat an elephant, after a few bites, you will be full. If you use restraint from here on and don’t stretch your stomach back out, you can be very satisfied with small portions which will help those needing to lose weight.

Also after no food for a while, your taste buds will be sharpened and food tastes insanely good, though you will not be able to eat but a little before you are completely full. Here is a note from my journal describing my first meal after a long fast:

After forty days without food, we decided to break the fast with soup and a sandwich. We went to the market and bought fresh romaine lettuce, tomatoes, smoked turkey, pepper jack cheese and whole wheat bread. Then back at home we assembled our creation, and I was generous with the mayonnaise. We heated up a cast iron pan with a little sweet cream butter, and toasted the bread carefully.

As we sat at the candle lit table and took the first bite, I trembled all over and my eyes began to well up with tears. The creamy mayo and crisp lettuce tasted better than anything that I had ever eaten in my entire life. Every bite was sheer bliss and chills ran up and down my spine. Fasting will truly make you appreciate food and greatly sharpen your sense of smell and taste. Eating that meal was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

The End:

As you can see, fasting is an intricate part of our life and many of the testimonies that I write about, came out of seasons of fasting.

Fasting is real, it will break the chains and cause the impossible to become possible. We have gone into a fast confused about what to do. The Lord pruned some things out of our life, and instead of becoming unemployed, we ended up in full time ministry. By the end of the fast, the confusion was gone and we had a clear vision from Him.

I encourage you, if your health allows, to try fasting. You have nothing to lose (but weight) and everything to gain.

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