Summary: THE SIGNIFICANCE OF FASTING DURING PRAYER - HELPFUL GUIDELINES & HEALTH TIPS
A. By fasting your saying, "I am serious, Lord."
The Bible says to break up fallow ground. When a field isn’t plowed, a hard crust forms. Without exception, all of us get a crust on our spirit. But the promise is that when we break up that fallow ground and seek the Lord, "He comes and showers righteousness on you". (Hosea 10:12b, NIV).
B. Fasting conveys a sense of desperation for the Lord’s intervention.
The book of Esther tells how all Jews in the Persian Empire faced a holocaust because of a wicked plot. Queen Esther knew that their last hope depended upon her intercession before King Xerxes -- but first, intercession of a different type had to take place! She challenged the Jews to pray and abstain from all food and drink for three days. Only then could Esther face the king -- and save her people.
C. Fasting brings confession and humility.
We begin to cry out, "God, I’m sorry." And we are assured that "a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise". (Psalm 51:17b, NIV).
As we are moving into the new millennium, we must ask God to bind the powers of satan, to free people held in bondage of unforgiveness, and bring billions of souls to faith worldwide! I believe that if the people of God begin to cry out to God in fasting, humiliation and prayer, we will see a mighty outpouring of love and forgiveness in this nation and around the world.
HERE ARE SOME DO’S AND DON’TS IN FASTING.
1. DO check with the Holy Spirit--and your doctor--before beginning a major fast. With any type of fast from eating, monitor changes in your medical condition. Don’t jeopardize your health.
2. DO try to get all your household necessities accomplished. Get the shopping done, get the laundry done, whatever. If you have family members to feed, feed them, maybe stick a pizza in or something simple for them. We need to give ourselves time for prayer and especially the time we would normally be eating can be dedicated to prayer.
3. DON’T go around telling people you are fasting. Avoid making it a just another religious ritual. That would indicate pride and remember we are to be humble when we fast. It’s okay to tell someone like your spouse so they know what is going on. The reason you are fasting is what is important. As much as possible keep your fast a secret; beware against pride. Pray, "Cleanse me. Break me. I humble myself before You with fasting."
4. DO ask the Holy Spirit to anoint you and give you a personal revelation of God: "I want to know Jesus more. Come and bring holiness to me. Make the Word of God come alive to me." As Job said, "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you".(Job 42:5, NIV)
5. DO ask the Lord to illuminate His word and give you a greater understanding of who He is. Proverbs 29:18 warns, "Where there is no vision, the people perish". (KJV)
6. DO ask God to renew the hearts of His people. The church needs to be renewed -- without racism, hatred, bitterness, envy and strife. Love must reign supreme in all that we do and say. The church of God needs a new sense of holiness and godliness.
7. DON’T try a long fast without first attempting just a day fast, then next time you can try a two day fast, and go a little longer after that.
8. DON’T do business as usual when fasting. Just skipping meals doesn’t impress God. Fasting does not produce merit or make us appear better in God’s sight, but it can express utter unselfish self-forgetfulness and self-denial. Remember that it is to, and for, God that we are fasting.
9. DON’T continue in all of your worldly entertainment, business and preoccupations with no thought of God. All you will do is starve yourself. And what are you gaining? Nothing. Fasting and prayer must go together. This doesn’t mean that you cease your normal life altogether, instead, focus your thoughts on God, with extended periods of time on your knees, crying out to Him.
10. DON’T ever fast for selfish reasons. Fasting is to help you recognize your total dependence on God. You receive God’s blessings and power based totally on what Jesus has done for you, not on anything you could ever do.
11. DO remember that God is more concerned with your spiritual life than with your physical life, so not eating in and of itself is no big deal to God. However, from what you have learned here, along with a humble heart, a broken and repentant spirit does touch the heart of God.
HEALTH TIPS WHILE FASTING.