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-by John Syratt, preached at Lighthouse Church, Calgary - Jan/06/08

RE: In 1970's Terry Virgo of NewFrontiers ministry in England, began meeting with 30 leaders and they decided to meet together 3x a year for several days of fasting and prayer. Today the number of leaders has grown to 750 and they still spend those days 3x/year in fasting and prayer.

Re: Most of the Church's reformers -including Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Knox-fasted. Knox fasted and prayed so much that Queen Mary said she feared his prayers more than all the armies of Scotland.

John Wesley, the renowned English preacher, missionary and founder of Methodism, fasted twice weekly from sun up until late afternoon.

-Wesley was so committed to fasting that he would not approve a candidate for ministry if he did not fast twice a week.

Charles Finney, a revivalist of the 1800s, fasted regularly each week and whenever he became aware that his spiritual power or anointing was weakening, he would immediately commence a three-day fast. Following the fast, the presence of God would radiate so powerfully through Finney that people would fall under overwhelming conviction upon his entrance into a room, a building, or even the city limits.

Jonathan Edwards, Charles Haddon Spurgeon and DL Moody would fast and pray in order that they would be able to preach well!

QUOTE: Dr. Yongi Cho: "People's needs are met in a place totally dedicated to prayer and fasting. This is why they come. Experienced "prayer warriors" are assigned to each request and they fast and pray until they get the witness of the Holy Spirit that their prayer has been answered."

WHAT IS FASTING?

-Fasting literally means to "not eat." Primarily abstaining from food.

-Biblical fasting is the discipline of deliberately abstaining from food for a spiritual reason: communion with the Father.

- It is a physical way of saying, "Food and the things of this life are not as important to me now as (fill in the blank) ."

Quote: Early church father, St. Jerome (died in 415 AD) said, "When the stomach is full, it is easy to talk of fasting."

THE POWER AND IMPORTANCE OF FASTING:

(some of this info comes from Bill Bright's message on fasting)

1. Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras.

-For example, Moses fasted at least two recorded forty-day periods. Jesus fasted 40 days and reminded His followers to fast, "when you fast," not if you fast.

2. Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the "first love" for your Lord

-Results in a more intimate relationship with Christ.

3. Fasting is a Biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God

-(Psalm 35:13; Ezra 8:21). King David said, "I humble myself through fasting."

4. Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition

-Resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life.

5. The Holy Spirit will quicken the Word of God in your heart

-His truth will become more meaningful to you!

6. Fasting can transform your prayer life into a richer and more personal experience.

-Biblical fasting always occurs together with prayer in the Bible - ALWAYS. You can pray without fasting, but you cannot fast (Biblically speaking) without praying.

7. Fasting can result in a dynamic personal revival in your own life

-and make you a channel of revival to others.

8. Fasting and prayer are the only disciplines that fulfill the requirements of II Chronicles 7:14:

-"If my people, who are called by my name, will 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."

9. Fasting is an expression of wholeheartedness.

-Jeremiah 29:13,14 "When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you"

-Clear from Joel's call to the nation of Israel in Joel 2:12: "Yet even now," says the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting..."

When is it appropriate to fast?

-What types of situations should induce a fast?

-What is a good Biblical reason for going without food?

Eight occasions when the people of God fasted:

1. Mourning someone's death. We see fasting and mourning connected in Scripture.

-In these situations fasting showed the sorrow that the people felt over the loss of someone God used in their lives.

-The custom of fasting in mourning - considered normal behavior among the Israelites. That's why in 2 Samuel 12:21, the servants of David were so astonished when David got up and ate following the death of his son: "David's servants said to him, 'Why are you doing this? When the baby was still alive, you refused to eat and you cried. Now that the baby is dead, you get up and eat food?!'"

-When someone experiences the loss of a close friend or relative, they usually don't feel like eating. This is a normal, natural reaction in the initial stages of grief.

- perfectly good reason to fast.

2. Mourning sin, i.e. in repentance and confession.

-In Scripture when people wished to demonstrate that they were serious about repenting from their sin, they fasted.

-Our willingness to sacrifice, shows the depth of our commitment and in this case fasting is a pictorial way of saying to the Lord, "I care more about getting right with You, God, than I do about my own life."

-a good occasion for fasting is when we are truly grieving over our sins.

3. A situation of impending danger; for protection.

-There are occasions when death or danger threatens us. We see from the Scripture that it is certainly appropriate to employ fasting as a means of receiving God's protection during these times. When Ezra was carrying a large consignment of gold and silver to the temple in Jerusalem along a route infested with bandits, he records: "I proclaimed a fast...that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a straight way for ourselves, our children, and all our goods" Ezra 8:21,23,31. Other examples of fasting for protection are found in Jeremiah 36:9 and Esther 4:3.

4. Direction: Fasting helps us find God's will.

If we expect God to reveal his direction for our lives, we must put Him first.

-can mean putting aside the fulfillment of our physical appetites, so that we can focus our attention on Him.

Example of fasting for direction in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.

-Three nations were coming against Judah to destroy them. King Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, proclaimed a fast for the whole nation and they asked the Lord what they should do.

-God heard their prayer and their fast and gave the people prophetic direction through one of the choir members! God told them what to do.

-Acts 13:2 is another example of direction being given by God during a fast.

-leaders of the church of Antioch worshipping and fasting

-Holy Spirit used this occasion to tell the church leaders to choose Paul and Barnabas from among their group and send them out to spread the gospel among the Gentiles.

-fasting is one of the ways we seek God's guidance and direction in our lives.

5. Sickness.

There are two examples in Scripture of fasting on behalf of those who are sick: 2 Samuel 12:15-23; Psalm 35:13.

-Both of these examples come from the life of David.

-In Psalm 35:13 "Yet when they were sick, I put on clothes of sadness and showed my sorrow by going without food."

-David saw fasting as a way to ask God for physical healing in the lives of other people.

6. The ordination of missionaries or church leaders.

-Fasting - a regular part of the ordination of church leaders and missionaries.

-Acts 13 -the calling of Paul and Barnabas for missionary service.

-vs 3 - after they received this direction from the Lord, then they ordained them for missionary service by prayer, fasting and laying their hands upon them.

- Acts 14:23 -find same thing- Paul and Barnabas fasted at the selection of the first elders for the new churches they planted. It would appear that fasting in these cases is a way of seriously seeking God's blessing, anointing, and power upon the leaders of the church.

7. Special revelation.

-Exceptional insights from God were sometimes given to the prophets and others during periods of fasting.

- Daniel 9:9,18 - Daniel sought God with fasting to ask God to fulfill His promise to restore Jerusalem

-He received through the angel Gabriel a wonderful unfolding of God's plan for Israel.

-If we have sought God in vain for the fulfillment of some promise, it could be that He is waiting for us to humble ourselves by fasting and seek Him as Daniel did.
-Other examples of prophetic revelation during times of fasting are found in Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:9,18; and Daniel 10:1-3.

-God decided to speak to these men while they were in the midst of a fast.

-For those seeking prophetic guidance or revelation today, God may also use the occasion of fasting to speak to them in a very unique way.

8. Times when those in authority over us proclaim a fast

- done by King Saul (1 Samuel 14:24) or Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:3).

-act of obedience

-we're calling a fast "It's time to seek the Lord."

WHAT FASTING DOES
1. FASTING EXPOSES OUR HEART:

QUOTE: Richard Foster: "More than any other discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us."

-Fasting helps us to uncover what is really inside. For example, if you are one who eats in order to feel better emotionally, to forget, then the absence of food will make that clear.

-It can reveal to us just how much pain, pride, or anger is inside of us.

-If we had a terrible morning... the one thing that might get us by was knowing that we were going out to lunch. But, all of a sudden you realize that you are fasting. You are forced to consider another way of dealing with your feelings.

QUOTE: Piper writes of fasting, "humbly and quietly, with scarcely a movement, she brings up out of the dark places of my soul the dissatisfactions in relationships, the frustrations of the ministry, the fears of failure, the emptiness of wasted time. And just when my heart begins to retreat to the delicious hope of eating supper at Pizza Hut, she quietly reminds me: not tonight."

-Our fasting proves the presence, and fans the flame, of our hunger for God and through it, God wants to awaken us to the reality of His presence.

2) FASTING EXPRESSES OUR HUNGER FOR GOD HIMSELF:

Paul rightly said to Timothy in 1 Tim 4:4, "For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving"

-James also affirms that every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father.

-That includes the food that we eat and many of the things that bless us in our day to day lives.

So, why fast? It is a way of saying that having more of the Giver surpasses having the gifts.

-In other words, we express to God, "food is good, your many gifts are good, but you are better!" -It helps restore our focus from ourselves and the good things God places in our lives, to the giver of those good things... ensuring that God remains preeminent above everything.

-This kind of God-centered fasting tenderizes our hearts helping us to find our contentment in Him rather than the gifts He gives.

QUOTE: John Piper said, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."

-The discipline of fasting is something that can help bring us to that place of satisfaction.

WHAT FASTING DOESN'T DO

1. Fasting does not inspire or provoke God to love you. Again, it does not, in any way cause Him to love you in a greater way. In Mal 3:17, God says that we are His treasured possession!

2. Fasting doesn't make God enjoy you any more. God already enjoys you... He delights in you! In Zeph 3:17 God says that He exalts over us with shouts of joy!

3. Fasting isn't a get rich scheme to holiness. God has already made us holy and blameless through Christ's finished work on the Cross.

4. We don't fast so that God would forgive us... but because He has already forgiven us!

5. Fasting is not a substitute for obedience. Some people fast as penance... as though their fasting will somehow balance out their disobedience.

-Sometimes, when a believer isn't walking closely with the Lord, when the inward reality of their faith has begun to fade, they will retreat to the outward forms of the faith such as fasting.

-RE: Pharisees making their fasts obvious.

- there is nothing on the inside, so they attempt to adorn their outside with religious garb. It doesn't work.

BOTTOM LINE: Whenever we embrace a spiritual discipline in order to get God to love, enjoy, or forgive us, we have gotten ourselves into legalism.

We don't fast to get God to set His heart towards us... but rather because God has already set His heart toward us.

-Because He is so indescribably lovely, we want to give ourselves over to Him more fully.

WHY DOES GOD REWARD FASTING?

Jesus said to His disciples, "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." Matt 6:17-18

Our Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward us when we fast!

-The passage explains the kind of fasting He rewards.

-God rewards those who keep their gaze focused upon Him as they fast rather than on the praise of men. As He sees our heart, affectionately turned toward Him, seeing that we are not out to impress others with our spiritual discipline, but in weakness, expressing our needs and longings to Him, then we can be sure that He will reward us.

So, if God is committed to reward us, what is that reward?

A deepened realization of God's presence in our lives.

Scripture remind us of God's promises to meet with or draw near to those who stop depending on themselves and seek God as their treasure.

-Both fasting and prayer cry out, "Father, I am empty, but you are full; I am hungry, but you are the Bread of Life; I am thirsty, but you are the fountain of Life. I am broken but you are whole."

-We fast because we know in our heart that nothing on earth can satisfy our deepest longings beside God... that no one else can minister to our sick friend like God... that no one else can heal our land like our God, that no one can free us from the bondage of sin like our God.

God's Nine Purposes For Fasting in Isaiah 58

1. Fasting to get freedom from addictions


v. 6 "loose the bands"
(things you'd like to lay down but have been unable to)
"I've tried to quit smoking, but I can't!"
Try fasting!
-Porn/alcohol/cussing/thought life...try fasting!
God has ordained that when we get serious about walking in victory we demonstrate it thru fasting...& He knows we're serious now!

2. Fasting to solve problems


v. 6 "undo heavy burdens"
ill.--child's knotted shoelaces/messed up finances! (turn to chapter 11!)/marriage in shambles/job solution?
When it seems hopeless, no way out!
God will deal w/ in an instant what you've stressed for weeks and months!



3. Fasting for revival and soulwinning


v. 6 "let oppressed go free"
I challenge you to do this this week!


4. Fasting to conquer mental and emotional problems


v. 6 "break every yoke" - so many people stressed out, under such emotional strain

RE: Dr. Joon Gon Kim, Korean evangelist - Crusade in Yoido plaza 1980 - preach to 1 million people. Seoul under marsahal law at time - Police said "No." Kim and team fasted and prayed for 40 days - went back to police, ""we have changed our mind and you can have your meeting!"


5. Fasting to meet the physical needs of others


v. 7 "deal"=share...to cut back once in a while and give that food or $ to feed the poor (special blessing in Scripture!)


6. Fasting for clearer insight in decision-making


v. 8 "light break forth"

Different that problem-solving...this is when you're seeking God's will in a major area of life...you're at the fork in the road and don't know which way to go.
[job offers/transfer/dating/ministry/college]
...it's like God turns on the lights and now you know what to do!



7. Fasting for health reasons or healing

v. 8 "thy health shall spring forth speedily"
Have a loved one that's terminal? Get serious and fast for them! When there's no hope from a human perspective, put it in God's hands...it may be His will to honor that.



8. Fasting for a more righteous life and influential testimony


v. 8 "thy righteousness shall go before thee"
It's easy for a Christian to grow cold...so say, Lord, light a fire under me! Make me like I was when I was first saved!
If you get serious enough to deny yourself in the physical realm, it will be amazing what God will do in your soul spiritually!



9. Fasting for the glory of the Lord, to protect us from the evil one


v. 8b "rear guard" = protection

 

Application:
Spiritually - do you have a loved one under Satanic oppression, or possession?

Mt. 17:16-21- "this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."

Why should we fast?
1. We fast in obedience to Jesus' teaching. (Matt. 6:16-18)
2. We fast to demonstrate our dependence upon God. (James 4:10, 1Cor 9:24-27)
3. We fast to demonstrate repentance from sin (and to intercede for others who need to repent). Jonah 3:5-10, Daniel 9, Nehemiah 1
4. We fast to receive God's wisdom and direction. Acts 13:1-3, 14:21-23
5. We fast to receive deliverance in times of crisis. 2Chronicles 20

How Will You Fast?
A. What Kind of a Fast will you start? You must decided whether you will fast for a day, a meal, half a day, several days, a week, or more...

B. What type of fast will you undertake: Only water or will you include juice?

- if you are taking medication or have special medical conditions, you really should consult your doctor before fasting. Pregnant women or nursing moms should not fast.

As you consider fasting, take notice of all the reasons you are using to convince yourself you shouldn't:

- I am too busy... I need the energy from food to enable me to fulfill my responsibilities at work.

- I usually eat out with people at lunchtime-what will I tell them? I'm doing something else for lunch today

If you decide to use juice - keep to low-acidic kinds. Don't forget about using vegetable juices as well.

C. Decide what activities you will need to cut out.

If you are fasting... particularly if you are fasting for more than 24 hours: - no 4 mile runs or the 30 minute aerobic workout.

D. Consider how much time you will spend in prayer during your fast.

Perhaps you can pray and worship through the times you would normally eat. Prayer must always be bound to your fasting. They go together.

THIS WEEK AT LIGHTHOUSE:

EVENINGS OF PRAYER WED TO FRI: 7-9pm

E. Consider how often you will fast.

Because God is not so much interested in the outward form but the inward change fasting produces, the effects of fasting are more significant if you embrace it as a practice in your walk with God. Perhaps once each month. Whatever it is... speak to the Lord about it.

Prepare Yourself Spiritually
A. Deal with unconfessed sin
B. Begin with an expectant heart

C. Be aware of spiritual opposition during your time

RE: Billboard with three 8' donuts facing my workplace

Prepare Yourself Physically
A. speak to a doctor if necessary
B. prepare body - cut out sugars and caffeine the day or two before. -helps avoid headaches.
C. prepare yourself for some hunger pains, light headaches, and weakness if you are going to fast more than a day. If you are doing a longer fast, this will pass after the third or fourth day, after you body has rid itself of most toxins. Of course, drink a lot of water.

Breaking Your Fast:
A. End gradually. -soups, soft fruits, watermelon, - not big portions

B. Understand that while you fast, your intestines shrink. Introducing solid food right away can cause a serious stomach ache or worse. Consider the two days after your fast as part of your overall fast.

If you fast, you will find yourself being humbled. You will discover more time to pray and seek God's face. And as He leads you to recognize and repent of unconfessed sin, you will experience special blessings from God.

IT"S TIME TO SEEK THE LORD!

 

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