Do you need dynamite in your life?
Do you want more than just a 'firecracker' type of power to resist sin and the devil? Well, there's good news for you! The Lord has the dynamite you need to blast out those stubborn areas of sin and rebellion. Jesus said, 'You shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you...' (Acts 1:8) The word 'power' here in the Greek is dunamos. And from dunamos we get the words dynamic, dynamo, and dynamite. So when you receive the Holy Spirit, you receive dynamite power.
Fasting 'lights the fuse' that sets off this dynamic power of the Holy Spirit in your everyday life. Fasting is one of the most powerful weapons of spiritual warfare that God has given to His people. Yet there's very little teaching offered in this area. Most believers are quite unaware of the power and benefits found in the discipline of fasting.
Satan seems to have done his homework in keeping believers from hearing these truths. However, the teaching of the New Testament assumes that fasting is already an important part of every believer's life. While you won't find a scripture directly telling you to fast, you can find Jesus saying, '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 6:17-18)
Do you see the point? Jesus didn't say 'if' you fast, He said 'when!' Apparently, fasting is not to be considered optional for the Christian life. In the ninth chapter of Luke we find a time when Jesus' disciples were unable to cast a particularly ferocious demon out of a little child. The spirit would send the child into fits. (It was probably a demon that brought on epilepsy.) The disciples were quite embarrassed by their failure to deal with this demon. When Jesus showed up on the scene, the child's father then accused Him. That same thing happens today. When you and I can't (or won't) do the works of Jesus, people tend to blame God. Later, after Jesus cast the demon out, the disciples asked Him, 'Why couldn't we do it?' Jesus replied, 'Some demons don't come out but by prayer and fasting.'
Let's consider principles of fasting found in the Old Testament: "After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat. Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, 'A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in En Gedi.' Alarmed, Jehoshaphat inquired of the Lord, and he proclaimed a FAST for all Judah." (2 Chronicles 20:1-3)
In this scene we see King Jehoshaphat besieged by Israel's enemies, the Ammonites and the Moabites. These countries were prickly thorns in the side of Israel. In the nineteenth chapter of Genesis we find that Ammon and Moab were the children of an incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters. As a result, for generations they and their descendants were the plague of Israel. Jehoshaphat was understandably afraid. Israel was extremely outnumbered in chariots, horses and men. So what did he do? He set himself to seek the Lord by proclaiming a fast throughout all the land. He understood something that believers desperately need to know in these days. He knew that fasting was the way to get God's special attention during desperate times. In fact, fasting is the way to obtain God's special attention anytime! As the chapter goes on, God did indeed come through in a dramatic way to rescue His people from their enemies.
What was true then is true today. When you feel outnumbered by enemies all around or when you, like Jehoshaphat, feel overwhelmed by fear, fasting is the answer. Do you know what fasting does? As you stop providing nourishment to your body, it weakens you. Jehoshaphat became weak because he understood that when you're weak, that's when you're strong. He knew he was weak, but he wasn't weak enough. He and his people needed to get really weak and broken, so that God's deliverance power would come and rescue them from their enemies.
Fasting: The Practical Way to Deny Yourself
Many believers today would like to have sufficient power in their lives to set others free from Satan's power. But, in order to fight and win any battle of the Spirit, you must be willing to pay the price. Christ fasted often. He kept His walk fine tuned through the discipline of fasting. The Apostle Paul also tells us in his epistles that he fasted often. Fasting is the ultimate way to crucify your flesh. Jesus said that all who follow Him must take up their cross and deny themselves. Paul tells us repeatedly in the books of Galatians and Romans that we're called to be crucified with Christ. Quite frankly, the most effective and practical way to be crucified is to fast: to periodically deny your flesh the basic sustenance of food. Fasting weakens you physically, and thus opens you proportionally to the things of the spiritual realm. In fact, fasting actually sharpen your senses. Nothing clears the hazy clouds of the flesh better than fasting. Where before you experienced 'partly cloudy' days in your spiritual life, fasting can bring about beautiful 'blue sky' days. The apostle Paul tells us, 'Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.' (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
The apostle Paul understood that self-denial was the only way to walk the Christian walk. He, too, had to learn to keep the passions, cravings and desires of the body in check. If he didn't, then he'd be disqualified from all of the things he earnestly desired. Jesus told His sleeping disciples in the garden, 'The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.' Have you ever said to yourself, 'Tomorrow morning I'm going to get up early and seek the Lord?' So, you set your alarm clock for 5:00 a.m. And you go to bed excited, 'Praise God, I'm going to do it. I'm actually going to get up early and spend time with God!' Then, before you know it, the alarm clock goes off! It's 5:00 a.m. You open your eyes, look at the clock and...BINGO! That verse becomes REAL to you: 'The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.' Your inner man is saying, 'Arise, get up, your whole day will be different if you'll meet with God this morning!' And you say, 'Yea, O.K., just five more minutes - I know, I'll pray here under the covers.' Have you ever done that? With your head on your pillow you say, 'Yes, Lord, Good Morning God, praise your....zzzzz.' I'm sorry, but that never works. I was talking to someone recently who told me, 'I'm having difficulties with my quiet time. I get up early every morning, but I keep falling back to sleep.' I said, 'Really, why is that? Do you take a shower? Do you get dressed?' 'No,' he said, 'I do it in my bed.' I told him, 'No wonder you're having a hard time.'
Let me share with you a principle I've learned over the years. To the degree that you yield to the indulgences of your flesh, to that degree do you lose spiritual sensitivity and power. If you want to maintain spiritual sensitivity and anointing, you must learn the principle of self-crucifixion. And fasting is the ultimate discipline of crucifixion. If you're interested in fighting effective spiritual warfare, but are not operating in the principles of fasting, you're going to be very disappointed! In fact, you'll barely get off first base (spiritually) if you aren't walking in these principles. Fasting is the most powerful weapon we have as believers. In fact, few things impress God more. Let's look at an amazing story in the Old Testament: 'In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of the others before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the same sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him.' (1 Kings 16:29-33)
Needless to say, Ahab was one bad king. He seemed to go out of his way to find things to do that would provoke the Lord. A few chapters later we read: 'There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel.' (1 Kings 21:25-26) Now look what happens. The prophet Elijah came to Ahab and pronounced severe judgment against him, to the effect that he would die a violent death and that all of his descendants would be cut off! Then in verse 27 we read: 'When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and FASTED. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly. Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 'Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.'" (1Kings 21:27-29) Can you believe this? Ahab was one of the most evil kings in the Old Testament - a vile worshipper of Satan. But when the God's Word came, he fasted. He humbled himself. He put teeth into his repentance. And what happened? God was impressed! So impressed, in fact, that He delayed all judgment against Ahab until the next generation!
Fasting puts Teeth into Repentance
Have you ever said to God, 'I'm sorry for what I did, Lord; I repent.' knowing full well that you're going to do it again, probably within hours? Many believers have a 'revolving door' relationship with God: 'I'm sorry God, I'll never do it again, never!' Then, they do it again. 'Sorry, God - this time I really mean it!' Yet, after a while, they're right back into the same old sin. Eventually, it'll get to the point where you don't even want to say 'I repent,' knowing full well the shallowness of the words. Can you at all relate to what I'm talking about? Let me tell you, fasting lets God know that you're serious about repentance. In fact, fasting will help break the cycle of sin. When Ahab fasted to show God that he meant business, God chose to grant him an extraordinary measure of mercy and grace. He'll do the same for you once you put teeth into your repentance with fasting! The prophet Joel confirms this, "'Even now,' declares the Lord, 'return to me with all your heart, with FASTING and weeping and mourning.' Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.'" (Joel 2:12-13)
Consider this next verse carefully. The prophet Samuel is admonishing the Jews to return to the ways of the Lord:
"And Samuel said to the house of Israel, 'If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.'" (1 Samuel 7:3) The 'foreign gods and the Ashtoreths' speak of the idols that may be lurking within a believer's heart. The 'Philistines' speak of the bondage's that may be present as a result of those idols, such as fear, gluttony, lust or other compulsive, driven activities. So, first, you must return to the Lord with all of your heart, and in so doing put away all the hidden idols within. The passage goes on, 'So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only. Then Samuel said, 'Assemble all Israel at Mizpah and I will intercede with the Lord for you.' When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they FASTED and they confessed, 'We have sinned against the Lord.' And Samuel was leader of Israel at Mizpah.' (1 Samuel 7:4-6)
Here again we see the principle plainly laid out in the Word. The Jews saw their sin and bondage and desperately wanted to be free. So, what did they do? They put teeth in their repentance. It's one thing to say, 'Lord I will not sin again. I'm tired of it. I want to stop.' It's another to prove what you say by denying yourself and choosing to enter a period of fasting!
Fasting Reconnects You
Fasting is a powerful re-connector with God. By denying yourself through fasting you're showing Him that you love Him. Satan doesn't want you to know anything about the discipline of fasting. In the fourth chapter of Luke, we find the devil suffering a humiliating defeat at the hand of Christ after He'd fasted forty days in the wilderness. So, obviously, the enemy certainly doesn't want God's people understanding and moving in this vital, spiritual weapon. Unfortunately, however, most believers today are far more into 'feasting' than 'fasting.' The only difference between fasting and feasting is the letter 'e.' There's nothing wrong with feasting, mind you. Solomon says, 'Whatever you do, do it with all your might!' When it's time to feast, feast; but remember, when it's time to fast, fast! Speaking of feasting, it's a fact that there's no better way to break a compulsive problem with gluttony or overeating than fasting. The same thing's true with the compulsive drives of lust. A good fourteen to twenty-one day fast will bring marvellous victory in these areas, particularly if followed up with an intense ministry of deliverance. At times I've heard people say, 'I've tried this diet and I've tried that diet and nothing seems to help me get my weight off!' Let me tell you about the ultimate diet - the fast! It's the best diet you can find and pretty uncomplicated. Not only do you benefit physically, but spiritually as well. The degree to which you're willing to deny yourself and take up the cross 'of fasting,' to that degree will you experience liberty in areas of long-standing bondage. Freedom is not hard to find, it's just that there's a price to pay. In other words, you get what you pay for. That's true in the world and it's true in the spirit. That's why Jesus told His disciples to 'count the cost.' How about you? What are you willing to do? How much are you willing to deny yourself, even in the area of food, to be free?
Fasting Clears the Spiritual Air around You
Have you ever woken up to a foggy morning or driven from JHB to Durban in the early hours of the morning? Few things are as depressing. You get in your car and drive down the road trying to get around in it. Everybody has their lights on. It's terrible. But what happens? The sun slowly rises in the sky and gradually it burns the fog off. After a while the air is clear again and you can see where you're going. You know, a lot of folks are that way spiritually. Their heads are `fog bound. ' They walk around with confusion and anxiety in their mind most of the time. You see, fasting is like the rising sun. It burns off that mental fog so that you can see clearly. Fasting has a way of clearing the `spiritual air' around you so that you can more readily hear the Lord's voice when He speaks to you. In fact, before any major decision in your life or before any major purchase, it's best to fast before the Lord -- then you're more likely to hear which way to go. Fasting enhances your spiritual senses. We all have the natural senses of feeling, sight, hearing, smell and taste. But did you know that they have their counterparts in the spirit? 'Taste and see that the Lord is good,' it says in the Psalms and, 'He that has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says,' we're told in Revelations. Jesus said, 'Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God,' and Paul speaks of, 'The eyes of your understanding that will be enlightened.' We have spiritual counterparts to our natural senses. When you fast, your spiritual senses become sharper and you're more able to perceive and grasp the things of the Lord. Fasting is the only way to go when you need clear guidance and direction in your life.
Fasting Releases God's Anointing
Let's look at another principle of fasting. In the book of Esther we find Queen Esther facing a momentous decision. The Jews were to be killed by the wicked Haman unless Esther interceded before the king for their lives. However, she risked death herself if she dared go in unto the king without permission. So what did she do? She told Mordecai, her uncle, 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 4:16) The story goes on to tell us that Esther was graciously admitted before the king and that he heard her requests for her people! Like Esther, few things will bring power to your times of intercession like fasting. Perhaps you've been praying for a lost relative or friend for years and have not seen anything happen. If you'll begin to fast as well as pray you're likely to be surprised at what will occur! There's power in prayer when you fast. Fasting releases God's anointing on whatever you do. In fact, fasting just may be the missing ingredient that's needed to see those loved ones come to Christ!
In Daniel chapter ten, it's recorded that Daniel sought the Lord for three weeks with a 'pleasant foods' fast. As a result, his prayers and intercessions ascended quickly before the throne of God. In fact, because of his fast, demonic principalities that ruled over the Babylonian nation were overcome by the forces of God. The passage speaks of warfare in the heavenlies between Satan's spirits and the angels of God. It was Daniel's fasting that helped determine the ultimate outcome. Daniel was a man of great revelation, visions, signs and wonders. As a result of his extended fast, he received one of the most amazing chapters of revelation found in all of the Bible. One of the reasons Daniel moved in such power in the spirit is because he understood and operated in the principle of fasting. There are at least thirty-five different references in Scripture where God moved supernaturally when His people came to Him with fasting. In this article we've looked at just a few. But, the pattern for all of the others is the same. If you want to experience God's power and hear His voice more clearly, here's the key. Be willing to commit yourself to the discipline of fasting, and you'll find a level of spiritual consecration that will not only deepen your Christian life, but will bring you the joys of the Spirit that you've always wanted but have never quite obtained. Now, let's look at another principle of fasting found in the New Testament:
Fasting Breaks Self Indulgence
There's an important principle of fasting found in these passages concerning the marriage relationship. First of all, Paul instructs couples to not deprive one another in the marriage bed. Put another way, he's saying don't use your body as sexual blackmail. In any marriage, there are times when one or the other spouse will be tempted to get back at their partner by demanding certain concessions in return for sexual relations. Paul quite clearly condemns such behaviour. He then says that sexual abstinence might be a very good thing at times when both partners agree to it and will spend the time together seeking the Lord in fasting and prayer. This illustrates a little known spiritual fact in marital unions. When couples intentionally refrain from having relations in order to spend time fasting together, the Holy Spirit can then come in to the relationship in a special way to expose and repair areas of hurt, mistrust and judgment. The fundamental fasting principle in this is that fasting breaks the trappings of self indulgence and opens you to sensitivity and awareness of other's needs. Many people tend to walk around with self-indulgent attitudes most of the time, like: 'I want what I want when I want it.' However, when a couple agrees to fast and pray this way, they create an atmosphere of self-denial where the woman tends to feel more cherished and the man learns self-control.
Fasting Helps you Physically
Another benefit of fasting is that it will help you physically. It's like leaving your car in the garage for a few days. Fasting gives your body a break. In fact, a fourteen to twenty-one day fast will often cleanse your digestive system from resident toxins and poisons. So much of the food we eat in our 'instant, microwave culture' is loaded with all kinds of chemicals and junk. Have you ever read the ingredients on coffee sweetener or non-dairy creamer? How about those 'instant' one minute inners? After a while, a lot of those chemicals tend to accumulate in your body and could possibly be the cause of many physical maladies. During a long fast the body will automatically cleanse itself of residual toxins and poisons that tend to accumulate within the human body. The initial headache that comes with fasting is the dangerous toxins being removed from your body. While you're fasting, your tongue may accumulate a white, fuzzy substance on the surface. Or, you may develop sores on the tongue and in other parts of your mouth. These symptoms indicate that, since you've halted your stomach's digestive system during the fast, your body is now naturally purging out the toxins and poisons within. When the tongue turns pink and clean, that means your body has been substantially cleansed. If this 'toxin and poison cleansing' is true in the natural realm, it's also true in the spiritual realm. When you fast, the toxins and poisons of the soul will come up as well: buried hurts, bitterness, hidden resentments, judgments, childhood bondage's, inner vows, and things of the past will come to the surface when you spend time in fasting and prayer. Its always good to fast a few days before receiving prayer for the hurts and bondage's of the past. That way, you won't have to spend a lot of time trying to 'dig up' what's wrong with you. Instead, the fast allows the Holy Spirit the opportunity to bring to the light areas of bondage that He wants you to see and deal with.
May God bless and lead you as you seek Him in Fasting and Praying.
Dr. Siva Moodley
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Here are some specific guidelines concerning various types and lengths of fasts:
Consult your doctor if you have special situations such as diabetes or hypoglycemia. There are ways to fast and/or deny your flesh safely and in ways that will not threaten your health. God is merciful.
One glass of juice at mealtimes and plenty of water in between. Drink a 'natural' juice without a lot of additives, sugar, etc.
a) For beginners, let your 'water fast' be a number of days in the midst of a juice fast.
b) For a full water fast be sure to drink LOTS of water all day long, preferably 'distilled' water as it has fewer trace minerals in it that can aggravate your digestive system during a longer fast.
Pleasant Foods Fast:
Just as it says - choose something specific to avoid.
Examples: 21 days without sugar (or sugar substitutes), 21 Days without any red meat, 21 days with no snacks, deserts, etc. between meals and a moderate portion at meals. Refrain from any spices (also sugar, salt, etc.) on foods
The Normal Fast:
Drinking only water and juice (Luke 4:1-2)
The Partial Fast:
The restriction of diet, such as Daniel eating only grains, fruits and vegetables and drinking only water (Daniel 1:15)
The Absolute Fast:
Refraining from both food and water. This type of fast is not to exceed three days.
The abstinence from something that brings pleasure such as media, a favourite food, beverage or recreation.
Joining together with your local body and/or small group to "tag team" on an extended fast (ie. one person fasts one day, the next person the next day, etc...)
If you want to put teeth in your repentance, tell the Lord you'll let nothing but water touch your lips for twenty-four hours. Do this when you feel stuck in a rebellious area in your life. This will prove to God that you mean business. If you're seeking guidance or want to break minor strongholds and addictions, go on a three to ten day fast.
If you want to break major strongholds like lust, gluttony, greed, tendencies of selfishness, or a back-biting tongue, plan to go on a fast from fourteen to twenty one days. In an extended fast like this, it takes a little over a week for things to start breaking loose inside. Don't end the fast just as things are beginning to loosen up. Remember, the longer the fast the stronger the fast.
Finally, a twenty-one day 'pleasant foods fast' is often effective in dealing with different bondage's, in seeking guidance. etc. Since this fast is not as intense as some of the others, it takes longer for it to have effect. One final thing about fasting. When you go on one of the longer fasts, use wisdom when you come off of it. If you're ending an extended fast of fourteen to twenty one days (particularly if it was a water fast), drink juices and eat fruit in ever increasing amounts for a few days. This will allow your digestive system the time to adapt to the process of food assimilation after so many days of inactivity .
It is very important that you DON'T eat any foods that are difficult to digest, and that you DON'T eat large portions immediately after the fast. Your digestive system needs time to 'get up to speed' to handle the food amounts you were eating prior to the fast. The same thing holds true even for the shorter fasts of five to ten days. Use wisdom in the 'tapering off' period. Take one whole day after the fast and eat a moderate portion of fruit or a bowl of shredded wheat. Take a couple of days before you resume your normal eating pattern. However, you really don't need to do this for a one day fast, and hardly ever after a three day fast, unless you've never fasted before.
We need the prayer shield of our Christian friends and family members to help us continue when we feel alone and when the enemy tempts us to give up Our Lord as he did Jesus Christ. Eventually, people will notice you are not eating. However, I have found that unless you see them daily, they do not consider your skipped meal much of a concern. If you are asked, non-believers may be satisfied by such a brief answer as, "I have other plans for lunch today." Or Christians should be satisfied when you answer that you are fasting today. If friends and family express concern for your health, ease their fears by telling them that you will stop fasting the moment you feel you are harming your body or if the Lord leads you to end your fast. There is usually no reason for telling strangers or casual acquaintances that you are fasting. If you do, they may subject you to a lot of questions that you may not want to answer. But in any case, use your best judgment and the Lord's leading in telling people about your fast.