And Then Shall They Fast

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

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

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 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!