A Fast Message from God
If you will listen fast I will preach fast. Most of you are pretty hungry for the Word, but by the end of my sermons you are not just hungry…you’re hangry! Today is no exception as we consider prayer and fasting for revival and other important causes.
Fasting=a voluntary withdrawing from food and/or drink, or other fleshly appetite, for a specified period of time.
3 most basic types of fasting mentioned in the Bible:
A. Normal fast [food]
Jesus began His earthly ministry w/ prayer and fasting.
Mt. 4:1-2—a 40 day fast Jesus completed!
16 Moreover when (not if) ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance…
Though fasting is never commanded, Jesus assumed that the disciples would want to in order to see great things happen!
But it’s not something a Christian has to do, but can choose to do…not many guidelines given in scripture about fasting, either!
Normal fast is no food, only liquids like water, juice, etc…it can last for 1 day (Judges 20:26—1 day fast)
That’s a good place to start!
3 day fast (Paul did this right after getting saved)
40 day fast (several examples in Bible)
Several men alive today who have done 40 day fasts and would say it was absolutely life-changing! (still took in liquids, of course!) [Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, 1994/James Dobson, Focus on the Family/late Jerry Falwell did liquified/others] [pre-chew’d food?]
B. Partial fast
Good if you have diabetes, hypoglycemia, or some other condition which precludes a normal fast.
In the partial fast you omit certain foods for a while, but not others.
Dan. 1—he and 3 Hebrew children did a partial fast, and at the end were stronger and healthier than those eating what they wanted.
Elijah did this on 2 occasions/John Wesley was well known for going days on end eating only bread and water/some give up meats for a time, eating only vegetables/just skipping a meal to spend time in prayer would be another example of a partial fast, or not indulging in things you like as much as just “getting by” w/ something basic, bland. [Giving up flesh’s desires to concentrate on the Spirit!]
Moses went on this kind for 40 days, nothing enters your mouth at all…can only be done for a very short time, not 40 days…consult a Dr.!
This is the first mention of a fast in scripture -- Ex. 34:28
(law of 1st mention)
27 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.
28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
When Moses received the 10 commandments from God, he engaged in a 40 day fast.
You may have noticed it said he didn’t eat OR drink…don’t anybody go out of here and try that! That is a human impossibility apart from divine intervention…some have worked up to a 40 day fast from food, but no one could survive 40 days w/ no drink…this was a miracle for a great purpose!
II. Purpose of fasting
A way to seek God by denying the physical in order to focus on the spiritual…
…for this reason prayer and fasting must always go together (or it does you no good spiritually!) How to know you’re not fasting enough? If it doesn’t lead you to much more/potent prayer!
Of course, there are physical benefits: medical dr’s are discovering more and more benefits to fasting…because the body is designed to heal itself on a cellular level…as we eat and take in various toxins, processed foods, medicines, etc., we hold a certain amount of poisons in our cells…but when we fast many of those things are flushed out of our system! [Quote from Doc] [Intermittent fasting fad]
But if you want a spiritual benefit, make sure and take the time you would have spent cooking/eating and transfer it to prayer time! [and then some]
II Chron. 20: 3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.
Ezra 8: 23 So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us.
And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
1 Corinthians 7
Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
Another point made by this verse is that when we fast it ought to be from ALL physical desires, not just food! [maybe my wife has just been fasting?]
Let go of the physical, focus on the spiritual!
Usually we fast and pray when we have a special need, when we need a spiritual breakthrough, when we are seeking revival.
God’s 9 main purposes for fasting:
v. 6 “loose the bands”
(things you’d like to lay down but have been unable to)
“I’ve tried to quit smoking, but I can’t!”
Drugs/Porn/alcohol/cussing/thought life…try fasting!
God has ordained that when we get serious about walking in victory we demonstrate it thru fasting…& He knows we’re serious now!
“undo heavy burdens” (v. 6)
ill.--child’s knotted shoelaces/messed up finances! (turn to prayer and to your Bible…don’t turn to chapter 11!)/marriage in shambles/job solution?
When it seems hopeless, no way out!
God will deal w/ in an instant what you’ve stressed for weeks and months!
v. 6 “let oppressed go free”
I challenge you to do that!
v. 6 “break every yoke”
I’ve never seen so many people stressed out, on edge, up tight, under such emotional strain as lately! Burdens: family, financial, etc.
v. 7 “deal”=share…to cut back once in a while and give that food or $ to feed the poor (special blessing in scripture!) [sodas]
Different than problem-solving…this is when you’re seeking God’s will in a major area of life…you’re at the fork in the road and don’t know which way to go.
v. 8 “light break forth”…it’s like God turns on the lights and now you know what to do!
Have a loved one that’s in bad shape? Get serious and fast for them! Is it your health in question? When there’s no hope from a human perspective, put it in God’s hands…it may be His will to honor that.
v. 8 “thy health shall spring forth speedily”
v. 8 “thy righteousness shall go before thee”
It’s easy for a Christian to grow cold…so say, Lord, light a fire under me! Make me like I was when I was first saved! I want to be closer to You, Lord!
If you get serious enough to deny yourself in the physical realm, it will be amazing what God will do in your soul spiritually!
v. 8b “rereward”=protection
Spiritually—have a loved one under Satanic oppression, or possession?
I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. 19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
Apply this to our nation now: who would have ever thought we’d live under threat of something like a briefcase nuke, airliner missile, viral attack, biochemical attack, wmd’s, Chinese balloons…these are perilous times…and we should pray thusly when we fast!
III. The benefits of fasting
Fasting and prayer is illustrated in people who can’t eat (waiting in surgery waiting room…can’t eat, time on hands, might as well pray (I Sam. 1:7—Hannah)…or the death of a loved one: it’s a good way of demonstrating our grief over that. (II Sam. 3:35—Abner died, David fasted)
We talk about being grieved over the politics of our nation, but have we demonstrated that grief? Burdened for revival in our church! Have you fasted?
Fasting is also a way of encouraging grief over sin …ever wished you were more burdened over sin? One way to cultivate grief is fasting.
…about wanting a spiritual breakthrough…are you hungry for revival? How hungry are you willing to be?
Old hymn: “I gave my life for thee, what hast thou giv’n for Me?”
Most of us live to eat…few eat to live! When we get serious w/ God, He gets serious w/ us!
(but blessings far outweigh!)
vv. 1-5 Israel was living wickedly, yet they would fast for things they wanted, but then when their fasting didn’t produce the desired results, they’d get mad w/ God and say, well, a lot of good it does to fast! God rebukes them here for fasting incorrectly…trying to appease a God who is angry w/ their sin!
Fasting is meant to change our circumstances…and to change US, not to change God!
Ill.—Worship: why does God demand it…ego? No, He doesn’t require worship for what it does for Him, but for what it does for US!
He’s not more holy or righteous because we worship Him…the rocks would cry out if we didn’t!
So, if we fast knowing we have unconfessed sin in our lives, we’re defeating the whole purpose.
Also, if we’re fasting in order to find a desired result…we have to leave the result in God’s hands, and accept the results as His will.
Fasting doesn’t produce a blank check made out from God to us.
Fasting will help us to receive God’s will! [miracle of healing or of grace!]
Mt. 6—desire for people to know how “pious” you are.
Exception would be someone who needs to know…spouse if they’re cooking for you, etc.
Gal. 5:1—stand fast in the liberty you’ve received…be not entangled again w/ yoke of bondage
Remember it’s not a command, it’s a choice…not a thing to look down your nose at others about if they don’t fast.
Lk. 18:10-14—I tithe and fast twice a week (just tithe twice!)
Church challenge, fasting for revival: [Saturday]
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