[x_custom_headline type=”left” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″]It is not uncommon for many believers to sense a leading of the Spirit to begin the New Year with a time of fasting and prayer. In fact, I believe every believer should set some time aside during the month of January, (but not just in the month of January, mind you), for some time to fast and pray, and hear from the Lord.[/x_custom_headline]
Although I won’t be providing you with an exhaustive study on the subject, the following are some important scriptures, along with some nuggets I have learned and benefitted from on this subject.
The first thing you must understand is that fasting and prayer go together. If prayer is not coupled with fasting, then your fasting will be powerless. If there is no prayer accompanying your fasting, then you are merely on a hunger strike.
Jesus spent time in fasting and prayer. If He did, then we know that we must do the same. And when you look at Jesus’ time of fasting and prayer, He had great power afterwards. In fact, He beat the devil in every way.
My pastor, Dr. Mark T. Barclay stated this about fasting: “Most of the time you will not feel any particular power the entire time you are fasting. But after it is over with, you will feel a supernatural power surge.”
Without question, Isaiah chapter fifty-eight contains some of the most powerful insights on fasting and prayer. So let’s begin our study there.
[x_blockquote cite=”Isaiah 58:6-11 KJV” type=”left”]“6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? 8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward. 9 Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; 10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: 11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”[/x_blockquote]
One purpose to fasting is to put your flesh under, so that you can hear from God more clearly. Most of the time, our flesh wants what it wants, when it wants it. And if you let your flesh dominate you all of the time, your ability to hear the Holy Spirit speaking to your spirit is often hampered.
Another benefit to fasting is that it helps you to see the works of your flesh; not for the sake of showing you how bad you are, but to break the bands of these things over your life.
As we are denying ourselves we are supposed to pay attention to the needs of others around us. This is why Isaiah 58:7 tells us that we are to give to the poor that which we would have eaten during the fast.
Something else that is critical to our time of fasting and prayer is found in verse nine above. From this passage we learn that we are to “take away from the midst of thee the putting forth of the finger,” which simply means blaming others for your problems, your failures, your disappointments, and so on.
From this powerful passage in Isaiah chapter fifty-eight, we can compile a list of benefits available to those who fast and pray the biblical way. In fact, there is no other place in scripture that provides us with as many benefits for doing any other scriptural thing as these that are listed here for fasting and prayer.
- Fasting and prayer is to lose the bonds of wickedness in your life or coming against your life.
- Fasting and prayer is to undo heavy burdens, rejection, and debt, etc.
- Proper fasting is to let the oppressed go free. Something natural or spiritual that is oppressing you.
- Fasting and prayer is to break every yoke that is attached to you.
- Fasting and prayer will cause your light to break forth as the morning. This means answers, revelations, inspiration; knowledge from heaven will come to you as sure as the morning sun. If you are perplexed, confused and looking for answers, your light will spring forth.
- Fasting and prayer will cause your health to spring forth speedily.
- Fasting and prayer will cause your righteousness to go before you. This means that you will start to live a holy life in the areas where you haven’t been living so holy. It causes you to overcome in areas that you hadn’t previously conquered and allow you to live a righteous lifestyle.
- Fasting and prayer will cause the glory of the Lord to be your rear guard. It guarantees that the manifested presence of God will protect you. The presence of God will protect your back, the part of your life that you cannot see. The Lord Himself will watch your back.
- Fasting and prayer guarantees that the Lord will answer you. It clears your head out, deals with your feelings and emotions, and allows your spirit to hear from God clearly.
- Fasting and prayer provides us with supernatural Holy Ghost guidance. This will satisfy our soul, our feelings and emotions.
[x_custom_headline type=”center” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]THE MORE YOU FAST, THE MORE POWERFUL YOU WILL BECOME[/x_custom_headline]
[x_blockquote cite=”Matthew 6:16-18 KJV” type=”left”]“16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”[/x_blockquote]
This verse doesn’t mean that you can’t tell anybody that you are fasting. It means that you are not to make a religious show and look like you are “super spiritual” when you are fasting and praying.
I have known people who spent so much time bragging about their fasting that it was nauseating. We are not to brag on the fact that we are fasting, nor are we to look miserable to get attention because we are fasting. But to be clear, there is nothing wrong with informing someone that you cannot accept their lunch invitation this week because you are spending some time in fasting and prayer. The point is, don’t get overbalanced on one side or the other.
I was always taught there here are two kinds of fasts:
- The fast God calls.
- The fast that you call.
The fast that God calls is a fast where you must do it the way He tells you to do it, fast what he tells you to fast, and fast as long as He tells you to fast. While a fast that you call is one in which you go before God and determine what you will fast and how long you will fast.
And if I might just give this disclaimer right here, I’d like to point out that fasting in such a way and for a length of time that will cause you physical harm is foolishness. God takes no delight in you hurting yourself.
Finally, another place to read about fasting and prayer is in Daniel 10:2-15. Daniel was burdened because he had been praying about some things and he could not get an answer. And this is when he realized that he needed to go on a fast, and set some time aside with the Lord in that way.
The fast that Daniel initiated is often referred to as a “pleasant bread” fast. It is a fast of those things that are pleasing to you. It may be food, or it may be an activity. I have known people who fasted TV for a week or a month. I have known others who fasted coffee or something like that, for example.
When Daniel went into this fast, he not only was able to hear from God, but also angels overpowered demon forces that had previously stopped his progress, his supply, and the answers to complexities in Daniel’s life.
When you fast, you are telling your flesh to “shut up,” and telling your soul to line up to the Word of God, and to what God wants.
I do hope that the brief insight you have gained in this blog will assist you in setting some time aside to spend with the Lord in fasting and prayer as we begin this New Year.