Last month the Lord laid Joel 2:15-17 upon my heart. It says:
Blow the trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; 16 Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room. 17 Let the priests, who minister to the LORD, Weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say, "Spare Your people, O LORD, And do not give Your heritage to reproach, That the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'"
The Lord has also strongly emphasized 2 Peter 3:10-12 for years which underscores the fact that there is a people who can hasten the Day of the Lord and His return. That's part of the goal of the 1Church1Day strategy. It is to facilate the mobilization of a people who will "pre-prayer" the way of the Lord.
Brenda and I are going to enter into a season of prayer with fasting and we wanted to invite you to pray and ask the Lord if it would please Him for you to join with us. To learn more about The Return click here.
To help you prepare, here is a lesson on Fasting offered in our Kingdom Academy.
12 Lessons to Learn in Fasting
Fasting is a spiritual discipline. At its core it literally means to abstain from food and sometimes drink. It was a common practice in the ancient world and it still should be today among disciples. Here's several examples from both the Old and New Testaments.
- Ezra proclaims a corporate fast before a journey. Ezra 8:21
- Nehemiah fasts to seek direction from God. Nehemiah 1:4
- People fast and confess their sins in Jerusalem. Nehemiah 9:5
- Esther initiates a 3 day fast to save all the Israelites. Esther 4:16-18
- King David fasted even for those who persecuted him. Psalm 35:13
- The king fasted for Daniel when thrown in the lions den. Daniel 6:18
- Daniel fasted seeking God for revelation and direction. Daniel 9:3-6
- The king of Nineveh called his city to fast as a sign of their repentance in response to the judgment Jonah prophesied. Jonah 3:5-10
- Repentance is accompanied by fasting in Joel 2:12-14
- Moses, Elijah and Jesus all fasted 40 or more days. Exodus 24:18, 1 Kings 19:8 and Matthew 4:2. They all did it to seek God or in preparation for their ministry.
Lesson 1 - Jesus said when you fast, not if!
Fasting is not just an Old Testament concept, it is a New Testament discipline that humbles the practitioner and positions them for increased levels of power and authority in the spirit. Jesus said in Luke 6:16-18;
“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Jesus said, "when you fast," not if you fast.
Lesson 2 - Fasting Increases Your Authority
The key to authority in Christ is humility. Humility requires discipline and discipline requires dying to your lusts, passions, wants and desires until you reign over them instead of those lusts reigning over you. This is the fastest way to grow in kingdom authority. It's one way take up your cross. Philippians 3:17-19 says;
"Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things."
When you fast you take up your cross and deny yourself. It is a way of humbling your lusts under the reign of God's spirit. This is a witness to not only God but also to the demonic who seeks access to afflict your soul through habitual sins. When you begin to apply God's word to your own life you subdue your flesh you demonstrate to the spiritual world who you've chosen to rule and reign in your life. Jesus said in Luke 9:23-24;
...“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it."
Paul said in Galatians 2:20;
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
A good leader cannot lead where he/she does not go or has not been. Whenever we fast we demonstrate the rule of God in our own life first. This qualifies us for greater authority and power.
Why? Because Jesus teaches us in a parable in Luke 19 that those who are faithful in the little God gives them will be faithful in much.
Lesson 3 - Fasting Increases Power
We learn more about the importance and power of fasting in Matthew 17:14-21. In this portion of scripture Jesus heals an epileptic boy that his disciples were unable to deliver. In verses 20 and 21 He says;
So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Fasting is a force multiplier. According to the US Department of Defense a "force multiplier" is capability that when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment.
1 John 3:8b says;
"...For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil."
We are called to be like Jesus Christ. Christ fasted before He began his ministry, modeled for us how to act and then He went to the cross. Colossians 2:12-15 says;
"buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it."
My First Fast
I will never forget the very first fast I ever went on in the late 1980s at Springfield Christian Center in Springfield Oregon. It was a three day water only fast. Brenda and I did it but we did not do it wisely.
Since then we've gone on many fasts over the years. It's ranged from 1 meal to up to 40 days. Sometimes Christ has called us into a season of fasting where in we will fast from 1 day a week up to 3 days a week for months until our Lord tells us we are done.
Lesson 4 - Pray & Obey
1 Samuel 15:22 says;
So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
To obey is better than sacrifice. Therefore, my advice is pray and obey. Recognize that sometimes it is difficult but I promise, it is worth it.
Lesson 5 - Don't Fast Like a Hypocrite
Jesus said in Matthew 6:16-18;
“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."
Lesson 6 - There are Spiritual & Physical Health Benefits
It will set you free from demonic oppression and cause your healing to come quickly. See the underlined below.
“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?
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?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, “Here I am.’
‘If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
I can testify and say that I've seen and experienced the scripture above. I will list at the end of this lesson some of the books our Father has used to teach me. Dr. Don Colbert is a physician who is a believer. In his book "Fasting Made Easy" he speaks of the scientifically proven health benefits of fasting. Never forget that our Lord is the Creator and He knows how He made us and the world to work. I marvel at what modern science discovers that underscores the wisdom of God's word. Fasting helps:
- Colds and flu
- Autoimmune diseases (ie. arthritis)
- Hypertension & coronary disease
- Psoriasis and eczema
- Type 2 diabetes
- Crohn's disease and colitis
- and more
Referring to the last scripture Isaiah says, T"hen you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, “Here I am.’"
Personally, I've found I don't hear as much during the fast as I do after a fast. It seems like I become hypersensitive to God's presence, His angels and my ability to discern and perceive heightens. That's my subjective personal experience. You might experience something different.
Lesson 8 - When Not to Fast
Dr. Don Colbert in his book "Fasting Made Easy" page 40 says DO NOT fast:
- If you are pregnant or nursing
- Extremely debilitated or malnourished, which would include patients with cancer, AIDs, severe anemia, or any severe wasting disease.
- Before or after surgery
- If you suffer from cardaic arrhythmia or congestive heart failure
- If you struggle from mental illness
- If you suffer from severe liver or kidney disease
- If you are a Type 1 diabetic
- If you take anti-inflammatory medications, aspirin, antidepressants, narcotics, chemotherapy or other diuretics.
- Total Fast - Moses (Exodus 34:28) and Esther (Esther 4:16) both did total fasts. A total fast means no food or water.
- Water Only Fast - This is self explanatory. Jesus went on a 40 day fast before begining His public ministry. In Matthew 4:2 it says after fasting 40 days he was hungry. He was not thirsty. Therefore we can conclude He drank water.
- Partial Fast - A partial fast is where the faster abstains from certain foods and drinks. In Daniel 10:3 we find that he ate no pleasant food, meat nor wine. Today we often refer to this as a Daniel Fast. Vegetables are eaten and water is drank. Sweets and any sort of drink can be avoided. Again, my encouragement is to pray and obey. Some, like Dr. Colbert are huge advocates of "juice fasting." This is also a partial fast. Note that if you are doing a juice fast, stick to vegetables and fruits. One time I made the mistake of drinking some chicken broth. The protein in the chicken broth made my kidneys hurt.
Wisdom and experience suggests that the longer the fast, the more in advance you should begin to prepare for that fast. For example, if you drink coffee, tea or anything with caffeine you should begin cutting your consumption down days before the fast. Otherwise, you'll get a caffeine headache. Recommendations:
- Under Three Days - You may make your last meal smaller with more vegetables or possibly no protein. Or not! I find that under three days is no real challenge for me personally. If this is a water fast and you drink caffeine then I recommend begin cutting down your caffeine consumption up to three days in advance (I don't like the headaches they cause).
- Three to 10 Days - A few days before you start you can begin to cut down on protein and ensure you've consumed more vegetables and fiber. The last meal or day could consist of vegetables and fruit only. When breaking a fast, start back in a reverse order. Ease back into it. Don't make the mistake of trying to break your fast with a big all you can eat buffet. (I learned that lesson on the first fast I ever did).
- Ten to 40 Days - The longer the fast the longer the lead time is recommended. For a forty day fast it is wise to begin to change your diet a week before. Again, breaking the fast is in reverse order. For example, at the end of the 40 day fast you may begin to reintroduce juice or some sort of small fruit bowl. You want to make sure you slowly added vegetables and later small amounts of protein. It's like warming a cold engine up. You want to give your body time to warm up before it begins running at full steam again.
You'll notice that as your body begins to burn toxins that your breath and body odor will get worse. For the sake of your family and friends, I recommend you bathe regularly, use deodorant, brush your teeth, floss and use breath mints. Drinking lots of water will help flush your system to.
After three to four days you'll find hunger pains begin to subside. Then you will experience times with extra energy and other times where you feel very tired. Rest when you are tired. Be prayerful always.
Know that fasting without prayer is just an extreme diet. Therefore, make sure you give yourself more time to prayer to get the maximum benefit.
As you go longer you may find that your skin begins to breakout in pimples and its possible to have a bowl movements where your stool is very dark. Your muscles may quiver sometimes to. All of these symptoms are the effects of your body processing the toxins out of your body. This is a good thing.
You'll also discover that your sleep cycles will change. Sometimes you will be wide awake when should normally be asleep. Other times you will want to sleep when you are normally awake. This is normal. My advice, pay attention, rest when you need to and devote the rest of this special time to watching, waiting, listening and praying.
Lesson 12 - Getting the Most Out of Your Fast
- Fast with a purpose! Identify what the goal of your fast is.
- Schedule special times to wait upon our Lord where you will watch, listen and pray.
- Keep a journal to write down any special revelation God gives you.
- Be prepared for God to share His heart with you. Sometimes He has allowed me to sense His love, thoughts and opinions towards situations and people. This has led to great times of intercession with both joy or tears.
- Guard your time. The adversary can use people or situations to rob you of your special time.
- Be accountable to your family and your spiritual oversight (ie. your apostle, pastor or mentors). Share your thoughts, revelations etc. with them. Be teachable and correctable.
- Why is the counsel in 6 necessary? It is because Satan can come as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14). Fasting causes all kinds of spiritual impurities to rise up out of our flesh. Son don't be surprised if you find some temptations magnified. Run your challenges and revelations by those whom God holds accountable for your soul (Hebrews 13:7 and 17).