Summary: Fasting is a rewarding discipline in that it brings us closer to the "face" of God.
1. FASTING TOGETHER: THE MINNESOTA GRASSHOPPER SWARM
In Minnesota, during the summer of 1876, there was a swarm of grasshoppers destroying the crops. There was a fear that the grasshoppers would return, so Governor John S. Pillsbury proclaimed a day of prayer and fasting on April 26, 1877, urging every man, woman and child to petition God's protection. When the appointed day arrived, schools and businesses were closed as people prayed for Divine intervention.
The next day began a series of days that were unseasonably warm. It was more like summer than spring. The three days of warm weather triggered the hatching of the grasshopper larvae. People wondered why God had not responded to their prayer and fasting.
However, the fourth day brought a sudden dip in temperatures. The entire state of Minnesota was covered with frost that night. The vulnerable grasshopper larvae perished in the frost, and the crops and economy of Minnesota were rescued from certain devastation.
Source: John Maxwell, Partners in Prayer.
16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
3. Our elders are asking for us to fast and pray 1 day – Lunch on Saturday, September 26 through lunch on September 27.
a. Elder selection
b. USA – National Repentance and the Events of The Return on September 26 (https://thereturn.org/)
4. Let’s think about fasting:
I. Fasting Is and Isn’t:
A. Fasting Is Not
1. A Hunger Strike [While in prison, Al Sharpton went on a hunger strike to protest the USN’s bombing of a Puerto Rican island – it’s about our control; what about God’s control
2. A Diet – tool of weight loss – what about losing self in God?
3. A Drudgery – rather an opportunity
B. Fasting Is:
1. Abstaining from food for spiritual purposes
a. “When” not “if” you fast – couple with prayer
b. Some may not be able to fast from food for health reasons – so fast from SOME foods [sauerkraut and bratwurst] or from electronics for 24 hours
2. An expression of repentance – Joel 2:12 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
3. A seeking of guidance in important decisions
• Esther 4:16 “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”
• Acts 14:23 (NCV) 23 They chose elders for each church, by praying and fasting for a certain time. These elders had trusted the Lord, so Paul and Barnabas put them in the Lord’s care.
II. When We Fast:
A. We Feel Our Hunger for God – Psalm 107:9 For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
1. Seek his face, not his hand
2. Confirmation of needing God – Not by bread alone (Matthew 4:4)
B. We Feel Our Emptiness without God – Psalm 51:11 Do not send me away from you or take your Holy Spirit away from me.;
C. We Realize What Controls Us – Romans 8:39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Luke 11:13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
D. We Concentrate on God and His Will
b. USA? Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
III. Fasting Qualities Matthew 6:16-18
A. Secret – Not a Show
B. Humbling – Not Pride Deuteronomy 8:3 He took away your pride when he let you get hungry, and then he fed you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had ever seen. This was to teach you that a person does not live on bread alone, but by everything the LORD says.
C. Submission – Not Manipulation – Zechariah 7:5 ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted?
D. A Reminder of Grace – Not Earned Approval