“It is our responsibility to exercise the authority that is ours through His name, and in the face of all the forces of evil to demonstrate that Christ is already ‘King of kings and Lord of lords.” – Derek Prince
How many of us realize that we are royalty? In light of the recent airport bombings and the steady increase of evil around the world, how easy it is for us to lose sight of our royal status and the authority that God has given us.
When we were in Asia several years ago, we were able to host the princess of Thailand on our ship. It was a grand occasion. We had to carefully learn the proper way to entertain such a royal guest. As she walked passed us, we had to bow and curtsy at just the right moment. Our fingers were held together in a prayer position at just the right location on our face. Too high or too low would be offensive. Her visit was important, and we didn’t want to make any mistakes with such royalty in the room.
The reality is that Christians are the true royalty on the earth.
Often we walk downtrodden and discouraged, letting the devil defeat us as we listen to his lies. At the moment, enemy lies are shouting at us from every direction – the media, magazines, newspapers, and television – the world system is everywhere. Who are we going to listen to? Let us not get disheartened at the trials that we face as God’s people. They are only to develop us in spirit and in truth, bringing forth the character of Christ.
We are sons and daughters of the King of kings, called to co-labor with Him. We are to help establish God’s Kingdom on earth through prayer. If we want to see breakthroughs, we must understand the authority that we have in Christ. It is so vital for us as God’s people to know that we can see heaven touch earth through our prayers.
We need to learn how to cultivate a Kingdom prayer life because we rule with Christ in our prayers.
Imagine if you had never driven a car in your entire life. You would have to walk everywhere. One day someone tells you that you are going to receive something that will take you everywhere you need to go. You are given a brand new car but you don’t know the features on the car. You get in and begin to drive, but you have the emergency break on! Since nobody tells you to take the break off, you drive no faster than 20 miles per hour. Nonetheless, you are excited. At least you don’t have to walk everywhere. But you don’t realize that you have lights or any other features on the car. You just know that for the rest of your life you can drive anywhere at 20 mph during the day.
Jesus came to earth in order to penetrate the kingdom of darkness with healing, joy, and purpose. He wants us to pray that things on earth would be like they are in heaven. He didn’t just come to give us a ticket to heaven like a car that only drives 20 mph during the daytime. He came to bring the Kingdom of God on earth.
We are on earth so that we can bring the Kingdom of God into our neighborhoods, workplaces, and nations. There is so much more than we have experienced. God wants His will done on earth as it is in heaven. We must find out the features that our King has provided and learn to drive this heavenly car with speed and expertise. Many of us are living in the mentality of driving a car that only goes 20 mph, but there is so much more that God has for us! Look at our royal status in 1 Peter 2:9:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Realizing that we are in God’s family and that He is preparing us to rule and reign eternally with Him, should make our lives different from those in the world around us. All who want to enter into a Kingdom prayer life of spiritual breakthrough need to comprehend the unlimited power that is in Christ and available to us. We have authority in intercession! We are seated in heavenly places in Jesus Christ, who is the King of kings and Lord of lords, before Whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess His Lordship over all.
– Debbie Przybylski
In Amos 3:7, the Lord said that He would not do anything without first revealing His “secret counsel” to His servants, the prophets. We also see in Psalm 25:14 that “The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant.” It is those who fear Him that He can trust with divine knowledge.
We may wonder how we can really be friends with Him if we fear Him, but it is the understanding of these divine paradoxes that the path of life is found on. The Hebrew word that is translated “fear” in Psalm 25:14 is yare’ (yaw-ray’), which is literally translated fear. Some translations have rendered this word “respect,” which of course it is, but it is respect to the tenth power. Even if we are His best friends, He is still God and we are still men.
John was the intimate friend of Jesus. Judas was familiar. There is an unholy familiarity with God that can be the foundation of the most tragic falls from grace. John, on the other hand, when he was old and the only one of the original apostles left, was caught up into the vision that is recorded as the Book of Revelation. He would still repeatedly fall prostrate in the presence of the Lord. The one who was arguably the man with the greatest revelation of Christ, and the most intimate friend of God, never lost his fear of the Lord. This is probably the main reason why he was trusted with such revelations.
In one of Paul’s first epistles, he claims that he is not inferior to even the most eminent apostles. Later he writes that he is “the least of the apostles” ( I Corinthians 15:9). Then a few years later he writes that he is “the very least of all saints” (Ephesians 3:8). In one of his last letters he writes that he is the greatest of sinners (I Timothy 1:15). Do you see a progression in this? The greater the spiritual maturity, the greater the humility.
What king or president would allow someone who was not discreet to get near their throne, or anywhere close to where sensitive discussions were taking place? If we want to be those friends the Lord shares His “secret counsel” with, we must understand both the honour and responsibility that it is. If we are going to be trusted with prophetic revelation, we need to have as much wisdom to know when not to share something as when to share. This wisdom is rooted in the fear of the Lord. We can be His best friends, but we must never forget who He is. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and it is the foundation of all true prophetic ministry.
(Rick Joyner’s daily devotional)
“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
2 Timothy 2:4
You and I have been called to live the high life in Christ Jesus, not to be tied down to this natural realm. But all too often, instead, we allow ourselves to become tangled in the temporary affairs of this world. We allow those entanglements to drag us into defeat. Don’t let that happen to you. Simplify your life. If you don’t have time for God, make time. Don’t let your career, your family or anything else keep you from going on with God. One thing I can promise you is that every part of your life will be more blessed if you take time to listen to God. Nothing you can do is better than hearing from heaven. Before I consider taking on any new activity, I always ask myself, Can I afford this? Not can I afford it financially, but can I afford it spiritually? Can I give time to this activity and still keep my priority time with God? If not, I can’t afford it. There’s only one thing you absolutely can’t afford to do without—and that’s your time spent in prayer and in the Word of God. It is your very life. It is where your victory lies. You may forget that, but Satan never does. He’ll constantly be sending time-stealers your way. So be alert and don’t become entangled in them. Remember to ask yourself, “Can I afford this?” Then simplify your life. Make the time you spend with God your first priority every day.
2 Timothy 3:14-17
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those form whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
●” The greatest thing anyone can do for God or man is pray.” – S. D. Gordon ‘
● “Prayer is where the action is.” – John Wesley
● “Satan does not care how many people read about prayer if only he can keep them from praying.”
– Paul E.Billheimer
● “Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.”
– Corrie Ten Boom
● “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest Christian on his knees.”
– William Cowper
● “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.”
– Charles Spurgeon
● “The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.”
– Andrew Murray
● “We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.”
– Oswald Chambers
● “There is no other activity in life so important as that of prayer. Every other activity depends upon prayer for its best efficiency.”
– M.E. Andross
● “He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.” – John Bunyan
● “I have seen many men work without praying, though I have never seen any good come out of it; but I have never seen a man pray without working.”
– James Hudson Taylor
● “Prayer is not learned in a classroom but in the closet.” – E. M. Bounds
● “We must begin to believe that God, in the mystery of prayer, has entrusted us with a force that can move the Heavenly world, and can bring it’s power down to earth.”
– Andrew Murray
● “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
– Mother Theresa
● “Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.”
– C. S. Lewis
● “The more you pray, the less you’ll panic. The more you worship, the less you worry. You’ll feel more patient and less pressured.”
– Rick Warren
● “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
– Martin Luther
● “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”
– Oswald Chambers
● “He who kneels the most, stands the best.”
– D.L. Moody
● “I’ll always say my prayers. And if God doesn’t answer them at once I shall know it’s because He’s planning something better for me.”
– Johanna Spyri / Heidi
Today I set my foot to the bank by the ATM to get some cash because I dearly needed the money.
As I started to transact, the ATM showed me an inscription which said; Please insert your card.
Likewise I did insert the card
And then another message came-please enter your pin code
Which I did
Another message came …select the amount,
I did that too
After I had done all this…the ATM showed me a message in BOLD letters
YOUR TRANSACTION IS BEING PROCESSED, PLEASE WAIT !
Allow me to say, likewise, you have done all these things, you have prayed, you have fasted, you have even asked others to pray with you and for you but it seems as if nothing is happening in your life.
Allow me to say to you, wait patiently don’t give up, don’t move because your request is being processed. WAIT!
Let me tell you, what made me wait is because my card was already in the ATM machine, I had already entered my pin code.
If I give up now and walk away, Lord have Mercy, the next person will get all that I had requested.
Not because your messages aren’t heard, not because your prayers are irrelevant, not because your fasting is meaningless, but because YOUR TRANSACTION IS BEING PROCESSED
Wait and murmur not. Do not think you were born to suffer.
Your prayers are being processed.
Wait upon the Lord.
I Know it’s not easy but I encourage you ..WAIT!!…as mentioned in Isaiah 40:31 “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
YOUR TRANSACTION IS BEING PROCESSED PLEASE WAIT
Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Psalm 37:7 NIV
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Romans 8:25 NIV
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14 NIV
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.
Psalm 5:3 NIV
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Exodus 14:14 NIV
Are You Suffering From The Jonah Syndrome?
We all know that Jonah was the prophet who tried to run from God’s call. But do you know the reason he tried to run?
Jonah was afraid that if he preached repentance to the people of Nineveh, who were Israel’s arch enemies, God would forgive them.
In other words, Jonah had a problem with the goodness of God.
He would have been much happier if God simply wiped out the people of Nineveh rather than had mercy on them, and he actually complained about this at the end of the book.
But as shocking as it is to see the wickedness of Jonah’s heart, many of us are just like him. I call it the Jonah Syndrome, and in times past, it has affected me too.
Let me explain exactly what I mean.
We see from 2 Kings 14:25 that Jonah had no problem prophesying that the Lord would expand the borders of Israel, but when it came to going to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, to warn the people that destruction was coming, he looked for a way out, knowing that the Lord was a merciful God and that if the Ninevites repented, God would forgive them.
Did Jonah care about his personal reputation, not wanting to look bad if the prophesied judgement didn’t come to pass?
That could definitely be part of it. But what we do know is that he had a real problem with the mercy of God.
The Scriptures state that after the people repented in sackcloth and ashes, “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it” (Jonah 3:10).
And how did Jonah react?
This was the greatest response to any message preached in human history, the greatest altar call ever given (to put it in contemporary terms).
Did Jonah rejoice?
Not one bit. In fact, the Word says, “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry” (Jonah 4:1).
How remarkable! Jonah was terribly upset that God had mercy on more than 120,000 people.
“And he prayed to the LORD and said, ‘O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.’ And the LORD said, ‘Do you do well to be angry?’” (Jonah 4:2-4)
But it gets worse. God caused a plant to shelter Jonah from the heat, but then it died quickly, and the prophet got even angrier.
The Lord said to him, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:10-11)
You might say, “Well, Jonah’s attitude was miserable, but certainly none of us have attitudes that bad.”
Are you sure?
Have you ever gone through a church split and found yourself upset because God still blessed the people on the “other side” (of course, the “wrong side” from your perspective)?
Have you ever been hurt by a ministry and grumbled when the Lord continued to bless them and even work miracles for them?
Have you ever been glad (rather than grieved) to see a colleague fall, as if this vindicated you? (If a brother or sister’s failure is your success, you do not have the heart of the Lord.)
These are all symptoms of the Jonah Syndrome, and the sooner we recognize them, the sooner we can repent and ask the Lord for a transformation of heart.
A number of years ago, I was involved in a very difficult split, one which brought pain and confusion to many people, as much as we all tried to avoid it. Yet God sustained both of the entities involved, to our mutual surprise.
“Lord, how can you bless those people when they treated us so poorly?” we thought to ourselves.
“God, surely you won’t sustain them when they are so wrong in this matter!” those on the other side thought to themselves.
Yet the Lord blessed and sustained us both while we struggled to find common ground in order to reconcile.
The key that unlocked the door for reconciliation was the recognition that God was for both entities involved in the split, since He cared for both equally, loved the sheep involved in both groups equally, and wanted to bless all of us equally. (It’s also important to realize that none of us are ever perfectly righteous, whichever “side” we are on.)
I remember well the night of reconciliation and the hugs and tears and laughs and renewed fellowship, and I remember well how we smiled at one another and said, “I bet you were surprised to see how the Lord came through for us and sustained us!”
Yes, both “sides” were surprised to see that the Lord was for both of us….
Let’s remember the Lord’s words in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, where he rebukes those who had a problem with the owner’s goodness, asking, “Are you envious because I am generous?” (Matthew 20:15)
And let’s remember the words of Jacob (James), that “judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgement!” (James 2:13)
As we have received mercy, let us show mercy, never forgetting there are not different “camps” or “sides” in the Body of Christ–even if we use those terms descriptively–but just one family with one Father, and He desires to do good to all his children.
Can we share his heart?
A disciple is simply put a learner (Latin: disciplus). Jesus Christ thought discipleship as so important that the word disciple appears 23 times in the four gospels and the Book of Acts. In Matthew 11:28-29 he says “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
By nature discipleship is a transformational process from one view and way of life to another, in this case from some worldly view and way of life into that of Jesus Christ and so of God himself. When writing to some Christians in Rome, Paul emphasized that since they were now disciples they had to change their very way of thinking and no longer copy the lifestyles around them. This process lasts a lifetime, therefore a disciple is not simply an accumulator of information or one who merely changes some aspects of her behaviour but one who seeks a fundamental shift toward the ethics of Jesus Christ in every way, including complete devotion to God and service to mankind.
Disciples and Disciple makers
If your question is: Am I a disciple? Jesus’ answer is: by their fruits you may know them. The marks or the characteristics of a disciple are the components of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness humility and self control. But remember that before any of this is possible we must be born again having given our lives to Christ. Then as spiritual babies we are admonished by Peter, to crave pure spiritual milk so that we will grow into a full experience of salvation. Discipleship is a process thus all these components will not suddenly appear, however the important thing is to keep on trusting God to work in us as we practice what the bible teaches us, subjecting ourselves to learn of Christ and to be taught by Him.
Joshua entered the school of discipleship under Moses and Elijah did not fail to bring Elisha to a position twice better than his. Likewise in accordance with Jesus’ command to go to the world and make disciples, God expects us to also make for Him disciples.
Any such program whether church based or a personal discipleship program should be person-centered but strongly focused on Christ. A young Christian can come under the tutelage of a known and respected older Christian or conversely. One can join a weekly discipleship program where several growth-oriented activities can be carried out especially small group focused bible studies and discussion where the grace of God given to each individual can manifest to the benefit of all.
Another option would be to organize and open up your home to neighbors either of the same church or not, or even unbelievers for evangelistic bible studies or follow up programs towards discipleship. One can make weekly or bimonthly visits to institutions such as boarding schools, prisons and the like to carry out discipleship classes. Vibrant discipleship is one of the indicators of a healthy church. Jesus set up the church on the rock, the sure and unshakable foundation with the unwavering assurance that the gates of hell would not be able to prevail against it! But this can only be possible if the people who make up the church are transformed into true disciples. Jesus gave different gifts to the church and no one person has it all. Some people are gifted teachers; they have the ability to present difficult concepts in an easy to understand manner. Others are naturally able to organize and lead effectively. Sadly such gifts can remain untapped unless a conscious effort is made to discover and use them.
The process of discipleship enables the church to make maximum use of all these gifts because it involves consistent teaching and practice. The young Christian is exposed to how God works in the life of a wide variety of people and open the believer up to benefit from what age, youth, knowledge and experience have to offer. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete stature of Christ.
Are you a disciple of Christ or just a church member?
Scriptures you should read for further insight and spiritual benefit:
1. Romans 12 1-2, Colossians 3:1
2. James 1: 27
3. Galatians 5:22-24
4. John 1: 12-13
5. 1 Peter 2:2
6. 1 Corinthians 12
By Edem Adzaku
The parable of the builders (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46-49) is probably one of the best-known stories in the bible and one of its core lessons to us, is the importance of bible study. In it the Lord Jesus equated the wise builder with any person who:
CAME to Him
HEARD His words, and
DID what He commanded.
For us who live thousands of years after Christ walked this earth it is clearly not possible for us to approach Him physically as the original hearers of this parable may have understood it; instead we come to Him by faith. Likewise, we have to rely on the bible to hear what Jesus has to say to us. Thus for us to be wise builders whose lives and works shall stand the test of time we need in addition to a living faith in Jesus Christ, knowledge of the Word of God in order to know – among other things – what God would have us do and how He would have us live. Only as we walk in line with the revealed will of God for our lives can we then be sure that our lives are founded on a solid rock.
The above therefore suggests that bible study, especially personal bible study, is a spiritual exercise we cannot afford to take lightly. It is true that many times the thought of carrying out a bible study of any sort, never mind a personal study, may seem rather daunting but I believe that once we begin to understand the importance and benefits of bible study to our spiritual growth and maturity, we shall give it a higher priority in our lives, in addition to enjoying our study of the bible. The rest of this article will therefore consider some of the reasons all Christians need to study the bible.
It could be said that the over-riding reason we need to make bible study a priority is because God requires it of us. This is not so much to earn His favour, but rather that we may know Him, His perfect will for our lives and how to live for Him. The history of the nation of Israel is full of so many instances where God’s people were unfaithful to Him and this was in all cases dependent on the type of leaders they had. When they had God-fearing leaders like David, Hezekiah and Josiah, the nation walked right with God, and when the leaders were not godly, the nation served other gods.
Deuteronomy 17:18-19, gave the instruction that each king of Israel was to, “…write for himself in a book a copy of this law, from that which is in the charge of the Levitical priests…”, and to “…read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them”, it is clear that with a few exceptions like David, most of Israel’s leaders failed to comply with this instruction with disastrous results for the nation.
In addition, Deuteronomy chapters 6-8 also taught the entire body of God’s people that they were not only to study and meditate on the Law but also to teach it to their children constantly. I believe this teaches us that the first step in propagating the gospel and making disciples of all nations as Christ commanded, is knowing the scriptures so well that the Word of God permeates our daily activities so much that those around us, from family members to friends and colleagues are exposed to the life-changing power of the gospel at work in our lives (Romans 1:16). It would also enable us be always prepared not only to make a defence to any one who calls us to account for the hope that we have, but also do it with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15).
The book of Daniel tells (in verses 2 – 3 of chapter) nine of how Daniel understood from his prior study of the scriptures that the length of Israel’s Babylonian captivity was to be 70 years and that time for their release was fast approaching. Armed with this knowledge he was able to intercede effectively for his nation. There is also the well-known instance of how the scribes and rabbis were able to point out Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah from the scriptures when the wise men came looking for Jesus.
These two examples teach us that by studying the scriptures we gain an understanding of the will and purposes of God for our lives and that knowledge keeps us from falling prey to the deceit of the enemy. It is always sad to hear of people (including Christians) who have been deceived by false leaders, sometimes to the extent of losing their lives, but therein lies a lesson to all of us to take heed least we be likewise deceived.
Another key reason to study scripture is that it keeps us from sin. The greatest example we can point to is the temptation of our Lord Jesus at the beginning of His earthly ministry. The biblical record makes it clear that the devil actually quoted scripture during the temptations and that should teach us that at times the devil may distort scripture in order to tempt us. Only a sound knowledge of the bible will help us recognise and overcome such spiritual attacks.
One desire of many Christians is to grow in their faith. Apart from the gift of faith which is specially given by the Holy Spirit, Romans 10:17 teaches that “…faith then [is] by a report, but the report by God’s word” (Darby Version). This teaches that, the more we are exposed to God’s word, the more our faith increases until we eventually reach maturity, the fullness of the stature of Christ, as Ephesians 4:13 teaches. It is interesting to note that in all the great works performed by Christ and the early disciples, there is no record of anyone receiving (or increasing) their faith through the laying on of hands or any other intervention by a third party.
Passages like Psalm 1 and Joshua 1:8 teach us the secret of true success – meditating on the word of God daily. This requirement goes beyond occasional casual reading of the Word to an intensive, regular and consistent study of the bible, hence the use of the words, “meditate”, “day” and “night”. Additionally, the aim of carrying out this daily meditation on the word should not so much be on attaining success as on us being careful to live in line with the Word of God. Our success is as much a fruit of that dedicated study as a farmer’s bountiful harvest is a result of dedicated hard work in the months before harvest time. It is not surprising therefore that David, the man who loved God’s word so much, is still regarded today as Israel’s greatest historical leader despite his well-known shortcomings.
Anyone who reads the bible cannot fail to notice the numerous promises God has in His word for those who believe in Him. There are promises of divine favour, protection, answered prayer, good health, guidance, enjoyable family life and provision for our needs, among others. Many of these promises also come with conditions which need to be fulfilled prior to receiving these benefits. These conditions typically entail walking in obedience to the will of God (e.g. as found in Deuteronomy 28: 1 – 14), which obviously requires first hearing God’s word. In short, studying the bible gives Christians knowledge of their privileges, rights and responsibilities as children of God.
In conclusion, there is a story of a man in England who decided to move to America to start a new life. He saved up all his money to buy a ticket on a ship sailing from England to America and after he bought his ticket he didn’t have much money left so he made himself some sandwiches for the journey. For the first week of his journey he stayed in his cabin and ate his sandwiches and drank only water. Soon he had run out of food and was starving so one day he went to the ship’s captain, explained his situation and offered to work on the ship in exchange for food. The captain gently explained to him that there was no need for that because the price of his ticket covered meals on board ship. Unlike that poor man, let us not allow ignorance to keep us from enjoying the many benefits that God has prepared for us. God bless you!!!
What is it?
Biblically, fasting is abstaining from food, drink, sleep, sex, etc to focus on a period of spiritual growth. Specifically, we humbly deny something of the flesh to glorify God, enhance our spirit, and go deeper in our prayer life.
Focus Deeper on God
Fasting isn’t some kind of a “work” that’s commanded by Christ or required by Scripture. However, that doesn’t mean that fasting isn’t recommended as a part of our spiritual growth. The Book of Acts records believers fasting before they made important decisions (Acts 13:4; 14:23). Fasting and prayer are often linked together (Luke 2:37; 5:33). Too often, the focus of fasting is on the lack of food. However, the purpose of fasting is to take our eyes off the things of this world and instead focus on God. Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God and to ourselves that we are serious about our relationship with Him. Although fasting in Scripture is almost always a fasting from food, there are other ways to fast. Anything you can temporarily give up in order to better focus on God can be considered a fast (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). Fasting should be limited to a set time, especially when the fasting is from food. Extended periods of time without eating are harmful to the body. Fasting is not intended to punish our flesh, but to focus on God.
Fasting should not be considered a “dieting method” either. We shouldn’t fast to lose weight, but rather to gain deeper fellowship with God. Yes, anyone can fast. Some may not be able to fast from food (diabetics, for example), but everyone can temporarily give up something in order to focus on God. Even unplugging the television for a period of time can be an effective fast.
Yes, it’s a good idea for believers to fast from time to time. Fasting is not required in Scripture, but it’s highly recommended. The main biblical reason to fast, is to develop a closer walk with God. By taking our eyes off the things of this world, we can focus better on Christ. “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” (Matthew 6:16-18).
A Lifestyle of Servant Living
Fasting is more than denying ourselves food or something else of the flesh – it’s a sacrificial lifestyle before God. In Isaiah 58, we learn what a “true fast” is. It’s not just a one-time act of humility and denial before God, it’s a lifestyle of servant ministry to others. As Isaiah tells us, fasting encourages humility, loosens the chains of injustice, unties the chords of the yoke, frees the oppressed, feeds the hungry, provides for the poor, and clothes the naked. This concept of fasting isn’t a one day thing – it’s a lifestyle of servant living for God and others.
“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am’ (Isaiah 58:8-9)
Are there different types of fasting?
The Bible describes four major types of fasting:
- A Regular Fast – Traditionally, a regular fast means refraining from eating all food. Most people still drink water or juice during a regular fast. When Jesus fasted in the desert, the Bible says, “After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” This verse does not mention Jesus being thirsty.
- A Partial Fast – This type of fast generally refers to omitting a specific meal from your diet or refraining from certain types of foods. Daniel 10:2-3 says, “At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.” In Daniel 1:12, they restricted their diet to vegetables and water: “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.”
- A Full Fast – These fasts are complete – no food and no drink. Acts 9:9 describes when Paul went on a full fast for three days following his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus: “For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.” Esther also called for this type of fast in Esther 4:15-16: “Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: ‘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.'” It is recommended that this type of fast be done with extreme caution and not for extended periods of time.
- A Sexual Fast – 1 Corinthians 7:3-6 says, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Although not mentioned in the Bible, Christians today commit to fasting from other activities as well. Some give up entertainment such as TV or movies to concentrate on prayer. Others fast from sleep or another activity for a specified period of time.
I am sure we’ve all heard people say things like; “I was just about to cross the street, when suddenly God asked me not to”. We might have found ourselves asking questions like, ‘did he really hear God speak, or does he just mean he felt led to do something’. Yes prophets like Samuel heard the actual voice of God, and so do a growing number of ‘ordinary’ people I know. However if you are like me – not for long though – and it’s not a voice thingy for you, but you feel like you are doing everything you can to get there, statements like the one above can leave you with the kind of envy you might feel if your love interest was getting cozy with someone else. Everyone can get there and these people didn’t get there by chance. But before the rest of us get catch up, there are decisions to take and having a decent means of determining Gods will is essential, to say the very least. Below is a list of helpful ways to do so.
The Word Factor: Basically the fact that the bulk of what our Pops will want to tell us is in His word. This is the primary means by which our father communicates His will to us. Nothing He says to us personally will contradict His word. Engage in daily bible study and prayer and He will be speaking to you on a consistent basis. You will be amazed as to how relevant the reading for the day will be to your peculiar situation.
The Pneumatic Factor: The question to ask in this case is this; what special gifts, talents, feelings (peculiar to me) have my Father given me?? Often God will relate to you in line with these things. The fact for instance that some find inspiration on quiet mountain tops while others find it in crowded market places illustrates this.
The Body Factor: God will often speak to us through our brothers/sisters in Christ. This is one key reason why fellowship is so vital. What you must realize however is that the message God will send your way via this route will often be in accordance with what He is already doing in your life, so maintenance of a close relationship with Him is key. A great illustration to this can be found in Acts 20:38, 21:4, 21:9-14. In this case Paul heard of the Lord through the brethren all right, but because he knew what God had been doing in his life, he was able to clearly place the word that was received and continued to Jerusalem despite the warnings.
Finally, what’s Christianity without faith? After all how many of us have seen God; …anyone?………I didn’t think so. The fact of the matter is some issues aren’t a clear case of right or wrong and a step of faith is inevitable. It helps to say a quick prayer, being totally honest with God and telling Him we are a little confused. We can then tell Him we are attributing our decision to what we feel He is leading us to do. That results in the ball firmly in His court. An ideal situation don’t you think?