Summary: 3rd in a series of 4 sermons about how to start a revival in the church & community. The 4 strands of revival are: GIVING - PRAYING - FASTING - COMMUNION.
Have you ever noticed how high on the list of priorities we put food? Some think that baseball is America’s favorite pastime, but I personally think it is eating. I could stand here and name every single fast-food place in the state of Oklahoma and I am sure that most, if not all of us, would have eaten there at one time or another.
How many times have you sat in church praying that your stomach doesn’t growl so loud that people notice? Have you ever sat in here and wished I would hurry and end my message so you could run out and grab something to eat?
Our stomachs seem to get hungry on cue, don’t they? We don’t eat because we are hungry; we eat so that we won’t get hungry. Surveys show that over 80% of Americans are unhealthy due to their diets. We don’t eat to live. We live to eat. Could we say that we worship our food?
What have we turned to when problems come into our lives? We should have turned to the Lord, but what we find is that many of us have turned to food. But that doesn’t make our problems go away, it just takes our minds off of them just long enough to eat something else.
For my last two sermons, I have talked about the elements needed to have proper revival in a church and in our lives. There are four of them, and I refer to these as strands. To review, these four elements (or strands) are:
c) Fasting; and
These elements are similar to the strands that are woven together to make a rope strong. When the strands of revival are woven together properly, they become strong under pressure because they are pulled closer to one another. And, when Christians are pulled closer together in the Lord, they become much stronger, too. And it is in this strength that will see a much-needed revival occur within this church and the surrounding community.
I have talked about giving and praying. Today, I would like to talk to you about fasting. Certainly, we don’t hear much today about fasting, but even in recent times we see where fasting, in conjunction with prayer, has had very powerful results.
Fasting is a very powerful tool the Lord has given us, and it works, too. Here is a true story of how it worked in Minnesota in the 1870’s.
Grasshoppers plagued the state and most of the state’s crops had been destroyed. The next year came around and they were very worried it could happen again, so the governor asked for a day of prayer and fasting so that everybody could go before God and ask for His protection against it happening again.
That day in April came and there seemed to be a hush over the entire state, while people everywhere spent the day fasting and in prayer. The next day came and it was bright and warm. In fact, the summer-like temperatures lasted for three days. Everyone was sure that the new grasshoppers that were now coming to life would eat up all their crops again, but on the fourth day, there was a terrible sub-zero freeze that lasted for three more days.
Had the weather been normal, the larvae would have lived, and there were enough of them to create another scourge on the land. But God heard the prayers. During the three warm days, the larvae came to life, and during the ensuing three cold days, all of them died. What many thought would reoccur never happened, because God heard the earnest prayers from people who fasted and sacrificed. People had been willing to sacrifice something they needed (food) so they could go to the Lord with more focus, and God heard. Not only did God hear their prayers, God answered them!
Mankind is a funny creature. We always seem to like being at the extreme of something. Very few times will we find ourselves in the middle of the road on any issue. When it comes to the discipline of fasting, we again tend to jump to one extreme or the other. We either confuse what the Word says about it by adding our own rules on top of it, or we just ignore fasting altogether. We can be sure of one thing, though; if Satan can’t keep us from using it, he will try and get us to abuse it. Therefore it is imperative that our view of fasting be biblical.
1. WHAT IS FASTING?
It is a time of going without something we need, and that something is nourishment in the form of food and/or drink. We use fasting in conjunction with prayer. When we focus on God so much that we are willing to give up our life’s nutrients, we are drawn closer to Him and that enhances our personal relationship with Him.