Posted tagged ‘fasting’

And Then Shall They Fast

February 11, 2012

These are the words of Jesus Himself from Matthew 9:15. He was responding to a question from the disciples of John when they asked, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? (Matthew 9::14b). Jesus responds with the following: “Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.” (Matthew 9:15).

There are those today who yet don’t see the need to fast and pray regularly because of their misinterpretation of the scripture. Others don’t fast and pray because of the fact that they have not searched the scripture to know the truth of the Word of the Lord. Then there are those who have taken their own interpretation of what fasting really is. They eliminate certain foods, and partake of other foods, and call this fasting. Possibly this came about because of their misinterpretation of what Daniel meant when he refused to eat certain foods from the king’s table.

Daniel 1:8-15 (KJV) says, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king. Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.            

And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.”

We can plainly see that this is not a fast, but there are those who use it as a fast because their way of interpreting the scripture. This is Daniel’s way of not defiling himself by partaking of the food from the king’s table, because such food had been offered to idols. This is their noble gesture in not being disobedient to their faithfulness in the God of their salvation. They wanted nothing to do with anything which could be interpreted as worshipping other gods. They were determined to remain faithful to God.

In Matthew 6:16-18 (KJV), we read the following, “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. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 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.” This is for our guideline when we fast individually. We should never go around bragging about the fact that we are on a fast. Fasting, as well as is praying, should always be a personal gesture with God.

Then, there are times when we do fast corporately, where those who are also fasting along with us know that we are participating in the fast. Such was the fast that Esther called. When we read in Esther 4:15-17, we see the following, “Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.” (KJV) From this we can plainly see that the participants knew of those who were also fasting along with them for this common purpose.

The disciples fasted and prayed before sending others out on a mission for the Lord. When we read in Acts 13:1-3, we see the following, “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid [their] hands on them, they sent [them] away.” And in Acts 14:23, we read the following, “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”

Fasting comes from the Greek word nesteuo, meaning to abstain from food. For this purpose, my definition is, the voluntary abstinence from food and drink, in order that the spirit of man may be fed. Fasting and praying are our commitments to God, and not unto man; and are not meant to change the mind of God in any way, but rather it changes us and brings us more in line with the will and commands of God. As we fast and pray, we become more intimately aware of who God is, and more knowledgeable of the ways of God. And as we become knowledgeable of God’s ways, and the more obedient we become, the more willing we will be in doing His Will.

We are living in the “those days” in which Jesus was speaking. Let us become more obedient to the Spirit of God, and more willing to do His will. Let us fast and pray often.

The Annual February Fast is a Corporate fast, and has volunteered participants who abstain from eating and drinking for their specific times of commitment. This does not take us away from fasting on a regular basis. I set aside a time for fasting and prayer continuously, each week in the year. I always have a purpose for fasting and prayer.

Seek the Lord and commit to do likewise.

 

Don’t Ever Stop Praying

March 7, 2011

The Bible says, in Luke 18:1, “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;” These are the words of Jesus as he was talking to His disciples, letting them know how important it is to be persistent in prayer. Often times when things seem to be getting too hard or seemingly out of reach, we tend to just give up. Many times we say that ‘common sense’ tells us that our desire is not going to happen.

The human element in us always thinks in human terms and, humanly thinking, it may not come to pass. But when we are praying, we should always pray as in a spiritual matter of thinking because the Bible says we should worship Him ‘in spirit and in truth.’ We have to always continue to trust in God no matter how it looks to the human intellect. There is a song which says, “You can’t hurry God. He may not come when you want Him; but He’s always right on time.”

The problem arises because we have gotten so used to “having it our way.” We drive up to fast food chains, and order service ‘our way.’ So much so that when we pray, we sometimes find ourselves directing the Lord to ‘do it now.’ In addition, we find ourselves getting to the end of our prayer and merely saying; ‘amen’ and getting up and leaving. Sometimes we forget all about the fact that prayer is a conversation with the Lord. And we are NOT to assume the role of dictators when conversing with our Lord. We should ever be reminded to remain in the posture of prayer until the Lord has had His opportunity to be in conversation with us. After all, it is a conversation, and not just a bunch of requests from us to God. Let us remain in prayer mode to listen to what the Lord has to say.

Let us remember that Daniel prayed and his prayer was immediately answered, but the answer was twenty-one days before it reached Daniel, but Daniel didn’t give up, rather, he was persistent in fasting and prayer. This is all because Daniel had such a relationship with God that he just couldn’t give up. He remained persistent in seeking his God and we should be persistent also as such in all manner of conversation with our Lord. Read the story in Daniel chapter ten.

We have just come to the end of our “Annual Month-Long Period of Fasting and Prayer,” which we do each year wherein we seek partners from around the world to partner with us in this time of consecration. But, even though the time of corporate consecration is now over, we won’t stop fasting and praying individually. We will always be persistent in prayer and fasting for we remain mindful of the fact that the Bible tells us to pray always.

There is a saying which says, “A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.” Prayer Warriors are always winners and therefore are not quitters. With all of the turmoil in the world today, the saints have much to pray for. As the Bible says, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.” With all of the turmoil happening in Libya, Egypt, and other areas of the world, as well as here in the United States, in our homes and in our churches, we have much to pray for.

Let us be continuous in prayer and to encourage each other that we don’t ever stop praying.

Dealing With Temptations

February 13, 2011

One thing we all will face from time to time are temptations, but temptations are always available to be a hindrance to everyone, if we allow them to be so. In addition, temptations are not things that are strange or unfamiliar to any of us. In fact, our temptations are always known to us. We just have to be vigilant and guard against them because come, they will.

The Bible has said, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” (1 Corinthians 10:12-14 KJV). This means that each of us should always maintain awareness of the roads on which we are traveling each day. It is the many distractions which avail themselves to us which are always there to distract us.

As we travel from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ in the natural walk of life, most of us are careful to map out the route before we take to the highways. We should be as aware while on this spiritual travel through life. While each of us might claim salvation, we are not immune to the distractions which confront us in this spiritual journey. Someone has said, “you don’t have to look for trouble, trouble will find you,” and this sometimes seems to be so true. Someone also wrote in a song, “Everywhere you look, there is trouble.” So what do we do? How do we deal with temptations?

The answer is, we should always use the Bible, the Word of God, to be our roadmap and GPS system as we travel these roads of life. For it will always give you an awareness of just where we may be at any time on this journey. Additionally, we will learn how to allow ourselves to trust in the promises of God. He has promised to always be there with us (Matthew 28:20b), where He said, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV). And in Hebrews 13:5c, He promised, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (KJV). In fact the Bible has said, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13a KJV).

Even on this morning, as I am in the process of writing this article, I am also participating as a participant in the February Fast. And as I try to process my thoughts to put them in this article, I am being bombarded by the smell of breakfast being prepared for our grandchildren by my wife. The smell seems to be more tempting and inviting probably because of the strength being realized as we go through during this month-long time of consecration. This lets us know that the Lord doesn’t take us out of the environment, but He gives us the strength to endure while we ‘go through’ in the environment. And as we are ‘One in the Lord,’ I will pray for you, and you will pray for me. As we read the most powerful prayer, prayed by Jesus Himself to the Father, I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” (John 17:5 KJV).

So, as you go through the many temptations of life, confront them with courage, because Jesus has already prayed for each of us. It is a great encouragement to me to know that my Jesus has already prayed for me. This also lets us know that we should be concerned enough about each other to pray for one another. I pray for you and you pray for me. So remember, temptations will come in many shapes and forms, but always remember, they are “common to man,” as the Bible has said.

It is not too late for you to join in and participate in the Annual February Fast. Do it today by going to the web site www.prayerandfaithcenter.com and sign up. Just click on “Annual February Fast,” then click on the drop-down box “sign up now.” And follow the instructions. I am looking forward to hear from you. Tell A Friend!

Dealing with Strongholds

December 26, 2009

In the Book of St. Matthew, chapter 17, verses 14-21, Jesus deals with the subject of strongholds which we sometimes have to face. The disciples were confronted with a situation over which they had no control and, facing failure in their efforts to accomplish success, they had to ask Jesus why they were not successful. We, too, will be confronted with success issues while on this Christian journey, but just because difficulties will come, it is not a time for us to give up trying. Continuing to try is just what we must do.

 In the New King James Version of the scripture above, we read the following, “And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 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.” In this text, Jesus is letting us know that we need more than showing up power. We need a strong faith to deal with some of the strongholds we will be confronted with in this journey.

 Many people are asked to do some things simply because they go to a certain church, or are seen in the company of certain people. And indeed we do have certain ones who try to gain notoriety by associating themselves in the company of influential people. But association will not bring spiritual strength. Spiritual strength can only be gained through personal spiritual exercises, and that calls for a life of prayer and fasting and staying in close conversational (prayer) association with the Lord.

 Let each of us set aside a regular time where we can dedicate ourselves to prayer and fasting and a conversation with the Lord. My dedicated time is Sunday. I set aside time each Sunday for fasting and prayer and being in conversation with the Lord. It is not always necessary to fast the whole 24 hours each Sunday; but rather it is the ‘quality’ of time and not the quantity of time we spend with the Lord. Please be encouraged to set aside a regular time in which you too can be in conversation with the Lord. It is healthy for the soul.

 Sometimes many strongholds will come in our lives, but with sufficient faith in the Lord, none of them will be impossible to overcome. All things are possible if we only believe, for “there is nothing too hard for God.” He made the world out of nothing. Certainly He is in control of everything in the universe. The way we deal with strongholds is to know that the Lord is in complete control of all things, and for us to have the faith to know, without doubt, that there absolutely is no failure in Him.

 Again, let each of us set aside a time of fasting and prayer in order that our time with the Lord will increase our level of faith. In addition, let us not get to the point where think we don’t need to seek the Lord for more and more faith and spiritual strength each day.

 We often ask the Lord to take us to another level. Well, let us not forget that at the new level there will be new challenges we must face. Let me encourage each one of us to join in with the Annual February Fast during the month of February 2010. Please join in with us by going to the web site www.prayerandfaithcenter.com and signing up with your commitment to participate. You can also sign up by writing to participate@februaryfast.com. Ask your friends and associates to also join in with us and present the idea to the pastor of your church for total congregation participation.

 Let us build a defense against the strongholds which we will face in this spiritual walk with the Lord. Remember, these kind come but by prayer and fasting. Let us join in with the war against the spiritual strongholds which come against the brotherhood.

Fasting Produces Spiritual Strength

February 2, 2009

Fasting has taken on many faces in recent years, and it seems that as time goes by, true godly fasting is losing its splendor. The talk is there, but the true act of fasting seems to be vanishing. We hear of persons or groups fasting on a regular basis, but the true spiritual reality of fasting is quickly going by the wayside.

 

When Esther sent out the summons for a fast, it involved the consumption of neither food nor drink for a period of time (see Esther chapter 4). Indeed there was a definite reason for their fasting and pouring out of their soul before the Lord. They were in grave danger of being killed.

 

Fasting gave them a period of time to rid the soul of its personal agenda and to go before the Lord for a common cause. Esther knew that fasting works. Fasting doesn’t change the mind of the Lord, rather it brings us into a closer spiritual relationship with Him. God moved in response to their fasting and they received a way out of this danger. God is absolutely holy, but it is us who need to be cleaned up and spiritually strengthened before we present ourselves and our petitions before the Holy God.

 

It has always been the desire of the Lord that we succeed and prosper, but the hindrance has always been our unwillingness to continually walk righteously. The Word of the Lord lets us know that if we abide in God’s Word and God’s Word abide in us, we are guaranteed success in the petitions we bring before the Lord. It is His guarantee and promise to us. All we have to do is live in accordance with the Word of God.

 

Fasting denies the body its pleasures in order to receive a guaranteed holy reward from the Lord. There are some spiritual strongholds we will face that we cannot conquer without the act of fasting and prayer (see Matthew 17:21; Mark 9:29). Thus fasting, coupled with prayer, brings us closer to the reality of the strength we gain through our Lord, Jesus Christ. This lets us know that the closer we stay to Him, the stronger we will be in our spiritual lives.

 

Many people want the rewards of fasting but don’t want to go through true fasting to get these rewards. All too often we use a fast which allow us to give up a certain food item of our choosing, then claim that we have gone before the Lord in spiritual atonement. Then we find out that the petitions we have taken before the Lord were not fulfilled in the manner we were expecting. That is all because we took our rendition of missing a meal to the Lord and called that a fast. Some people give up sweets, some give up certain meats, or other food items that they love to eat, but that won’t work. We are not denying that there are different types of fasting, but God is not fooled by our human antics. A true abstinence fast has to be a true abstinence fast in order to get the rewards from the Lord for we are wishing. Satisfying our personal ego is not fasting. If we are to serve the Lord, we must serve Him in spirit and in truth. We cannot just throw anything at the Lord and expect Him to bless it. God’s Word is definite, therefore our acts must be sincere and definite. Taking the easy way won’t work. It only satisfies our own ungodly egos.

 

True fasting still works, and it brings spiritual strength!

Our Hope Is in the Lord

January 1, 2009

The present time in which we are living is marked with economic instability and uncertainty. The United States government has been feverishly and franticly moving to put a financial anchor in place to try and stop the declining economic conditions with which we are faced. Not only that, the world’s economy is tied together and therefore what happens in one country affects another. It seems what has happened in the United States has greatly affected what happens in Asia and Europe and other sections of the world.

 

The ungodly is worrying and wondering how to fix the problem. It seems that nothing that is done has a positive effect on the financial markets around the world. In the United States, financial props have been placed under the businesses thought to have need of a “bail-out” in order to keep them from failing. The banking industry, the financial industry, and the automobile industry have all received financial backing in effort to prop them up and keep them from failing. All of this is happening at the expense of the common working man. Couple all of this with the fact that one man who had the responsibility to manage billions of dollars of other people’s money failed in the ability to maintain honesty and lost the total life’s savings of many people, most of whom were depending on these finances to carry them during their retirement years.

 

The world panics in conditions like these, but the Christian places his trust in the God who made heaven and earth, for the bible has declared, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, KJV). The Hebrew bible states it this way, “When my people who bear my name humble themselves, pray and seek my favor, and turn from their evil ways, will I hear in My heavenly abode and forgive their sins and heal their land.”  This scripture lets us know that even though we sometimes fail to be faithful to the Lord, He never turns His back on us. God remains faithful regardless of just how the saints act. If saints fail to keep their promises to the Lord, the Lord is yet faithful to take care of all. And, in spite of the economic posture around the world, none of God’s people will face hunger because of it. For it was Jesus who taught the disciples to pray using these words, “Give us this day, our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11 KJV). Not only that, in Romans 15:13, we learn and know that our Lord is a God of hope.

 

Not only is there a decline economically, but there is a decline on how people serve the Lord. There is a decline in people coming to worship service like we should. There is also a decline in people seeking the Lord like we should. The Lord in the scriptures mentioned above has promised that He would heal the land if the saints (the church) would return to Him with all their soul, heart, strength, and mind. We need to seek the Lord as never before.

 

Even though we have “change” coming to Washington, as shown in the past Presidential election, our hope is not in the election of the new President as the hope for our problems. Our hope is ONLY in the Lord. Jesus is our Lord and Savior. Only He can heal the conditions we face. Let each of us come to realize that, even the atheists who are fighting to have any reference of God removed from the inauguration ceremonies. The devil is a liar! Our God is still the only true God. Hallelujah!  Evil flourish when good people sit back and do nothing. Let each of us, as Christians, do our best to fight the forces of evil and represent the God of our salvation.

 

Therefore, I am calling on all who read this column to seek the Lord in prayer, more now than ever before. In addition, I am asking all who will, to join with myself and others around the world in fasting and praying throughout the month of February, in what we know as the Annual February Fast. Please take the time to visit the web site at: www.prayerandfaithcenter.com to sign up.

 

Happy New Year


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.