True Power

True Power

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

FASTING

Count it an honor and privilege to FAST.

There seems to be a fair amount of confusion and disagreement about how and why to fast. ; This is understandable since the bible does not give concrete guidelines for fasting. There are various passages in several books of the Bible where it is clear that there is power in fasting. I want to offer my opinion and attitude for this act of faith without implying that my view is the concrete biblical way. I hope my addressing this topic opens doors for reflection, prayer, and discussion on the subject.

Fasting is defined in The Layman's Bible Dictionary as the practice of giving up eating and drinking for a specified time, generally as part of a religious ritual in times of PERIL. Elijah and Jesus fasted for forty days (1 Kings 19:8; Matthew 4:2.

In the New Testament the Greek word is nesteuo meaning to abstain from food, to abstain from eating. Christ taught the need of purity and simplicity of motive. Fasting was the answers of Christ to the questions of the disciples of John and of the Pharisees reveal His whole purpose or method. (Mt. 4:2, 6:16-18, 9:14-15 MK. 2:18-20, LK 5:33, 18:12, Acts 13:2-3).

Matthew 6:16 "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen, and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

The Book of Esther is a good study on when a great national need was met by the fasting of many. An edict had been given by the king for all of the Jews to be killed. The Jews responded to this by fasting, weeping, and wailing. Mordecai reached out to Queen Esther to plead the case of the Jews to the king which would be a dangerous undertaking. Only those invited into the king’s presence could speak, those not invited faced death. Esther told Mordecai to "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is DONE I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish." Esther 4:1-17.

In the above chapter, the life of a nation was at hand, there was a threatening danger to the lives of others as well as the petitioner of God's mercy. Notice that Esther said AFTER the fast was over, then she would take ACTION. This passage demonstrates working cooperatively with God after seeking His mercy and grace.

Another great study on fasting would be the book of Jonah. Jonah was directed by God to go to the enemy of his people in Nineveh to reach out to them one last time before God would destroy them. Jonah is famously known for his disobedience and being swallowed by a whale before changing his mind and obeying God. Jonah was tasked with telling the people of Nineveh "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned." Jonah did not know if his enemy would kill him even before he had a chance to relay God's message. He had concern for his life. The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them,...The king issued a decree "Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence." Through their fasting, praying, and turning from their evil ways, Nineveh was saved. Again we witness a situation occurring on a large national scale.

Finally I would like to look at Jesus. Before Jesus began His ministry, He went off to himself for forty days to fast, led by the Spirit. It was after His fast that Satan came to tempt Jesus. Jesus was able to resist and to tell Satan to leave and go on to begin His ministry after being ministered himself to by angels. We know that Jesus' ministry was a ministry of life and death for those who listened or refused to listen. His ministry changed a nation. His own life along with those who He ministered to and led was in mortal danger.

There are other mentions of fasting in the Bible but I use these three to point to a greater good and power of fasting. I do not believe fasting should be taken lightly because of its great power. There are people fasting for cars, money, restoration of health and I will not be the one to say they are wrong, because I am not qualified explicitly by Scripture to make that determination. But I do believe that fasting is a part of the armor of God. It is a weapon to fight against the principalities of darkness. I think as with all things concerning God it is the heart-motive that matters. Fasting in the examples I used were for the greater good, extending beyond self. Supernatural power and authority was needed for a supernatural change.

Fasting is a cry or plea to the gates of heaven for God to look down on you and to have mercy from your position of brokenness and humility on the highest form. The lack of food and water is an outward sign, a declaration stating your existence is not dependent on bread and water but on the mercy and grace of the Lord. I live or die by your hands, not by any other external source.

Christians teach on the power of fasting-to get what you want. But I do not think the posture or position of fasting is taught. Fasting says I will perish without your intervention- without you Lord. Once Esther and Nineveh had come to the realization of their dire circumstances, they pulled out the most potent weapon in their communication of God to relay their dire circumstance, but after the fasting there was an action. It was not left to the supernatural power of God but I believe in and will act on my faith in the ability of God to do what takes supernatural intervention. Esther went to the king, relying of the grace and mercy of God to spare her life; which He did. The Ninevites quit their behavior which had caused them to have the wrath of God turned to them. They became different-changed, with their petition for mercy. Jesus began His ministry in the power of God knowing men would reject Him; that He was putting His life in jeopardy each day. After fasting, Jesus began His appointed mission for the kingdom.

So fasting is not a one way street of just receiving. It is asking God to be with you, go before you, open un-openable doors, and do what has not been done before as you work with Him in His kingdom. Neither of these examples were a selfish request. It went beyond the faster.

This is why in the New Testament, God is warning to make sure your fasting is not just an act of gaining attention or for manipulation and that you have right motives.

I began this post by saying it is an honor and privilege to fast. How wonderful to know that when you are at your most hopeless and helpless you can still go to God. To say to God, this situation needs your supernatural intervention on a large scale. This situation is a matter of life and death and no one can do anything about it but you my Lord. Are you familiar with the boy who cried wolf? In the three examples I gave above about fasting, there is no doubt that these were dire circumstances needing supernatural intervention. As a soldier in God's army, sometimes we take a tank into battle when only a knife is needed.

I would never try to discourage anyone from fasting. I do not have that authority. My post is mainly to praise God for saying we can turn to Him when we are at our last and He will intervene. That when we are at the darkest hour in our lives, He can be counted on to be with us. I also wanted to stress ACTION on our part. Fasting is inviting God into OUR situation, not releasing us of our duty and responsibility. So the next time you fast, know that your part has not ended with the fast, but you have asked God to do the part that you are not able to do, but continue to do what you MUST DO. Remember, most people DO fast in dire circumstances, but they are empowered through and with God to continue on and to finish the supernatural

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