“So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing by prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29 NKJV)
Then Jesus was led by the Spiri into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him ansaid, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[Deuternonomy 8:3]
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[Psalm 91:11-12]”
Jesus answered him, “it is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.‘[Deuteronomy 6:16]”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, “all this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[Deuteronomy 6:13]
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
(Matthew 4:1-11 NIV)
My church does an annual churchwide fast and this is our first year to participate (we joined the church last June). I became committed to fasting last Spring as our previous church was in the throws of some very difficult times.
I fasted twice for 21 days last year – once around the end of January and then again in May. I found a website with some very good information about preparing for a fast and what to expect when you are fasting. The first time, I knew I needed to, but I viewed it more as a dietary change and less as time spent with God – I quenched the Spirit totally with the mechanics of fasting and los 20 pounds in the process. But as I learned more about fasting, especially corporate fasting, I became convinced this might be the answer for our sleepy little church. My pastor at the time did not agree, but as the women’s ministry leader I asked the women of our church to prayerfully consider fasting and praying for the church body and the leaders of the church as a whole. I was more strict with my fasting – at that time, I was observing Daniel’s fast. I ate no meats and no sweets (I think that is accurate) for 21 days. I received 3 breakthroughs, 1.) I had never in my entire spiritual walk ever observed true sabbath, 2.) I needed to honor the heart of firstfruits giving, not just the rule, 3.) I needed to pursue the gift of writing and teaching God has bestowed deep with in me. I also received a call to a 40 day fast which I intended to begin at the end of the summer.
At the end of that fast I had no idea that in a month we would be members of a different congregation, but change was in the wind and we set sail with God as our navigator on June 14th. Since then things have hardly made sense. I have been in a holding pattern of sorts, leaving a small church where I was the heart of several ministries and a primary leader among the women to a vast and large urban congregation where I am trying to find my place in the midst of so many people. I have received prophecy over my writing and my calling, I have received prayer and encouragement, but over and over again I have heard the Lord say, “Wait.” Not the inactive be still kind of waiting, but the kind of being still that makes me constantly aware of His presence and plan – all the while I am preparing what He has shown me to do for His appointed time. A time of constant activity and truth.
I had fallen away from Him in discouragement these past few months. I was discouraged and a little let down things were not moving along with our journey at the new church – but, as the new year approached, I knew change was coming and the fast was approaching as well. With the church doing ten days I began to ask God about the 40 days he had previously called me to… the answer was “It’s about time.”
On December 30th I sat down and prayed most of the afternoon asking God at what level and in what ways I was to observe this period of fasting and prayer. I clearly received three answers: 1.) A broth and water fast the first day (January 1), 2.) 39 additional days of Daniel’s fast – except this time – if it is not grown of the ground – I don’t eat it – well and water of course (before I included some bread and dairy – but on a limited basis), and 3.) for the 10 days of the church fast I would watch no television. He gave me 8 areas of my life to work on and I am to pray specifically for my husband and my children.
I survived the first 24 hours – though I was sure I would faint dead away – I did not sleep until well after midnight on the second. My devotions have been so powerful and the Bible study is cutting away at the months of separation I had been subjecting myself to…
I am enjoying the opportunity to draw near today. And, my blog which I began months ago where I have visited little because I was not getting any response has suddenly become a place of encouragement, friendship and opportunity. Who knew? God that’s who!
For more Scriptures on Fasting see: Nehemiah 1:4, Luke 2:37, 2 Corinthians 6:5, 2 Corinthians 11:27, Esther 4:16, Isaiah 58:4-5, Joel 1:14, Matthew 6:16, Matthew 9:14, Luke 18:12
I’ll write more on this subject when I’ve studied the Scriptures I’ve referenced here a liitle more….If you are observing a fast for the new year, please respond.