Summary: The Secret To Unleashing The Power Of God
Jesus said, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23).
In the daily pace of modern society it is easy to lose our focus on God. That’s why as Christians, it is critical that we fast from time to time to help bring us a truer sense of God’s desire for our lives. Through fasting and prayer, our communication with the Lord moves to a dynamic and highly sensitive level
I. WHY WE SHOULD FAST
It was a custom of some of the early prophets, church leaders and Christian disciples to have a period of fasting, or self-denial, during which believers said, "I want to deny myself and draw closer to God." Recently, the practice of fasting has become popular among other segments of the Church as well.
Throughout the Bible you can see that it was assumed there would be fasting. This is the reason religious leaders challenged Jesus about why His disciples didn’t participate. He replied that people shouldn’t fast in the presence of the Bridegroom, but they would when He was taken away (see Matthew 9:14-15).
II. THE PURPOSE OF FASTING
If you want to be changed, you must start with a heart of repentance and forgiveness. You can’t begin a fast holding something against someone. If you’re going to ask God to hear your voice, you must be willing to love and forgive others. Psalm 24:3 asks, "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place?" The reply is in the following verse: "He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, and has not sworn deceitfully."
Fasting is going without food and only consuming liquids. Some people will just fast a meal, and you can do that, but if you are in a desperate situation or are praying about a serious matter in someone’s life or about breaking a stronghold, you need to get serious about fasting. Skipping one meal isn’t serious fasting.
III. THE BENEFITS OF FASTING
A. Release Of Spiritual Power In Your Personal Life.
Before beginning His ministry, Jesus was driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, where He didn’t eat for 40 days. Although Jesus lacked food, He was strengthened and nourished through His direct and intimate communion with the Father. That is why fasting is so important to the Believer. It causes us to focus directly on our Creator and Lord. This is where our true strength comes from. In fact, some believe that the time Jesus spent fasting brought Him so close to the Father that the devil’s tempting was needed in order to get Him refocused on His earthly mission and to get started on the path set before Him. His personal holiness and the increased spiritual power released as a direct result of His fasting helped Him face the devil -- and emerge victorious. (Matthew 4)
B. Release Of Spiritual Power In Ministry.
Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch were Barnabas and Symeon (also called "The Black Man"), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the foster-brother of King Herod), and Paul. One day as these men were worshiping and fasting the Holy Spirit said, "Dedicate Barnabas and Paul for a special job I have for them." So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them -- and sent them on their way. (Acts 13:1-3 TLB)
Note again what else they are doing besides fasting? -WORSHIPING AND PRAYING.
It doesn’t specifically say praying, but how do we know they were? It says the Holy Spirit spoke to them. What is prayer? It is communication with God through the Holy Spirit.
C. Hearing The Word Of The Lord.
In response to Daniel’s fast, God sent an angel to give him insight and understanding .
"So I earnestly pleaded with the Lord God [to end our captivity and send us back to our own land]. As I prayed, I fasted and wore rough sackcloth, and I sprinkled myself with ashes." (Dan 9:3 TLB)
"Even while I was praying and confessing my sin and the sins of my people, desperately pleading with the Lord my God for Jerusalem, his holy mountain, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, flew swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice and said to me, "Daniel, I am here to help you understand God’s plans. The moment you began praying a command was given. I am here to tell you what it was, for God loves you very much. Listen and try to understand the meaning of the vision that you saw!" (Dan 9:20-23 TLB)
Acts 13:1-3 also gives another reason for fasting. We have left our normal worldly routines behind and focused on the Lord so our ears are open and attentive.