After writing my previous blog on renewal of my prayer and worship life by emulating those missionaries who focus on staying and soaking in the presence of the Lord, I experienced some significant (to me) changes. Here is what happened today.
I had to accompany some guests to a shopping mall for a birthday teen to buy her present. Having waited a long time (like two hours) in some clothes shops, I suggested we walk back to the first one she visited. While waiting on a bench in front of a clothes shop, I noticed a tiny girl in a wheel chair. She seemed tired and making some sounds. Her dad sat next to me. The passers by tried looking in other directions so as not to make his situation more difficult. But I was led in my spirit to start a conversation with him. He told me she is his second daughter, fifteen years old. She has the body and stature of a very young child. He told me she was operated three times, and had chemotherapy for brain tumor at three years old. The treatment affected her bone marrow and stunted her growth. She is now on hormone treatment to help her growth. He told me his three children’s names and their meanings (sun, star, and light). The girl is named after a star. I told him I am a Christian who believes that our God heals, and asked him whether he believes in divine healing and miracles. He said yes. He said he is open to all religions and agreed that I could pray for her. So I shared with him about Jesus and that Jesus saves and heals. Then I prayed for his second daughter. She voluntarily stretched her hands to me and held my hands as I spoke to her, prayed and blessed her.
I told her she has a beautiful name and I thanked our God for creating beautiful things like the sun, the stars and light. She brightened up and smiled. By faith I spoke to the body to be restored to God’s original beautiful creation and design.
After that the dad told me he believes this is not a chance meeting. He is not local. He drove from another town with his family today to visit the eldest daughter who studies in a college here. He was waiting for his wife and eldest daughter who were also shopping in the same shop my guests were shopping. The newly renovated and expanded mall is huge and there are many beautiful branded clothes shops. He said he believed God had arranged this meeting. I too believe the same. After coming out of two other more trendy shops for youngsters with empty hands, I suggested to the teen to return to this particular shop as its name came to my mind for no reason. While the birthday girl and her entourage were giving this more classic shop another try I saw this man and his daughter sitting next to me. This is not a chance meeting. I agree.
This incident confirms to me that going to the secret place of the Father in heaven through prayer and worship opens a new realm of spiritual reality on earth. Where I currently reside, people do not normally go around talking to strangers, volunteering to pray for healing. But this watchman has been convicted to do something that makes a difference, regardless of how the gathering crowd may view or comment. What matters is that the Lord has answered prayers. The prayer of the watchman to be led deeper into the Holy Spirit river of healing and wonders, and the cry of a father to help his daughter. He has waited for twelve years for a breakthrough. His waiting has not been in vain. She can walk, but she needs further strengthening, he said. She also attends a normal school. I pray he and his child will continue to walk by faith, love, and hope.
Here is the assurance from our Lord Jesus:
Mark 5:36, 40-42 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
36 [a]Overhearing but ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear; only keep on believing.
40 And they (others) laughed and [a]jeered at Him. But He put them all out, and, taking the child’s father and mother and those who were with Him, He went in where the little girl was lying.
41 Gripping her [firmly] by the hand, He said to her, Talitha cumi—which translated is, Little girl, I say to you, arise [[b]from the sleep of death]!
42 And instantly the girl got up and started walking around—for she was twelve years old. And they were utterly astonished and overcome with amazement.
Mark 5:36 Some manuscripts so read.
Mark 5:40 G. Abbott-Smith, Manual Greek Lexicon.
Mark 5:41 Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon.
Hebrews 7:25 AMPC
Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them.
Ezekiel 47 (Quoted in parts)
8 Then he said to me, These waters pour out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah (the Jordan Valley) and on into the Dead Sea. And when they shall enter into the sea [the sea of putrid waters], the waters shall be healed and made fresh.
9 And wherever the double river shall go, every living creature which swarms shall live. And there shall be a very great number of fish, because these waters go there that [the waters of the sea] may be healed and made fresh; and everything shall live wherever the river goes.
12 And on the banks of the river on both its sides, there shall grow all kinds of trees for food; their leaf shall not fade nor shall their fruit fail [to meet the demand]. Each tree shall bring forth new fruit every month, [these supernatural qualities being] because their waters came from out of the sanctuary. And their fruit shall be for food and their leaves for healing.
Is it not yet a very little while
Till Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field,
And the fruitful field be esteemed as a forest?
In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book,
And the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness.
The humble also shall increase their joy in the Lord,
And the poor among men shall rejoice
In the Holy One of Israel.
…They shall see the glory of the Lord,
The excellency of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands,
And make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are fearful-hearted,
“Be strong, do not fear!
Behold, your God will come with vengeance,
With the recompense of God;
He will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
Then the lame shall leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the dumb sing.
For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness,
And streams in the desert.
“I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness,
And will hold Your hand;
I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the Gentiles,
7 To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the prison,
Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.
I will bring the blind by a way they did not know;
I will lead them in paths they have not known.
I will make darkness light before them,
And crooked places straight.
These things I will do for them,
And not forsake them.
4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
Matthew 15:30-32 New King James Version (NKJV)
15:30 Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them. 31 So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.
The Answered Prayer
12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
(All Scriptures are quoted from the Bible New King James Version (NKJV))
Nehemiah 2:13 “And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Dung Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire.”
Lately, the watchman is interested in why many Christians are weak, succumbs to sickness and live in defeat and fears. He reads that the Dung Gate describes how in practice the defilement in our bodies and minds should be rooted out and burn. Through the Dung Gate, trashes were taken out of Jerusalem, to a valley of Hinnom, where smelly, rotten and disease infested trashes were burnt. The Dung Gate spiritual meaning is that sin, like trashes, could defile and destroy our physical and mental being and must be cast out and burn.
Jesus described about how a person could be defiled in Mark 7:21-23, “For from within, out of…
He had been hearing one particular hymn chorus in his spirit for days but he just couldn’t remember enough words to find the song. today he turned on the worship recordings after a long day’s work, and three hymns were sung: Are you washed in the blood of Jesus? There is power in the blood (of Jesus), and At Calvary. After he heard the three hymns he tried looking for that song that his spirit had been singing. He merely clicked at random and the same three aforementioned hymns came out! Awesome! He then realized these are the themes for this season at this eleventh hour of this year…
Here are the three hymns.
“Are You Washed In The Blood?”
Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? [Chorus:] Are you washed in the blood, In the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb? Are your garments spotless are they white as snow? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Lay aside your garments that are stained with sin And be washed in the blood of the Lamb. There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean. O, be washed in the blood of the Lamb! [Chorus]
“There is power in the blood” (of Jesus)
Would you be free from the burden of sin? There’s power in the blood, power in the blood; Would you o’er evil a victory win? There’s wonderful power in the blood. Refrain
There is power, power, wonder working power In the blood of the Lamb; There is power, power, wonder working power In the precious blood of the Lamb.
Would you be free from your passion and pride? There’s power in the blood, power in the blood; Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide; There’s wonderful power in the blood. Refrain
Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow? There’s power in the blood, power in the blood; Sin stains are lost in its life giving flow. There’s wonderful power in the blood. Refrain
Would you do service for Jesus your King? There’s power in the blood, power in the blood; Would you live daily His praises to sing? There’s wonderful power in the blood. Refrain
Years I spent in vanity and pride, Caring not my Lord was crucified, Knowing not it was for me He died On Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free; Pardon there was multiplied to me; There my burdened soul found liberty, At Calvary.
By God’s Word at last my sin I learned; Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned, Till my guilty soul imploring turned To Calvary.
Now I’ve giv’n to Jesus everything, Now I gladly own Him as my King, Now my raptured soul can only sing Of Calvary.
Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan! Oh, the grace that brought it down to man! Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span At Calvary!
Although the 5am lesson was stopped when all the participants were led out into their respective calling as God’s harvest field workers, in response to the Lord Jesus’ remark that the harvest was ready but the workers were few, the watchman continued the habit of rising at the time when called regardless of the hours.
This morning he rose and asked the Lord about a number of things concerning the building makeover task at hand and vision and message ahead regarding the future. He asked about the rather worn flooring; waterproofing; re-painting; adding more storage spaces etc.
He was asked to read Genesis 6-7. The NLT Bible opened at verse 14. It answered all his questions instantly! Later in the day he met with someone for advice on the building makeover project. The friend recommended some changes: the use of laminate wooden flooring at reasonable cost; re-painting the roof; confirming minor modifications that would enable the replacement of the plywood doors by unused wooden doors, and use of unused wooden materials for additional storage necessities. They went to look at the spare resources and found that they could be reused easily. While looking at the materials he decided to give the friend two sets of rarely utilized HP personal computers and a statement printer which had been left unused. The gift to the interior designer builder became a barter in exchange for minor re-modification works!
On a serious and corporate church vision perspectives: Those who run to the ark (Jesus, His church-sanctuary where prayers and worship continue 24 hours daily and seven days a week) for divine healing will receive it. The key is get into the ark and stay in. This is confirmed as another intercessor just called and said that the healing sanctuary is now running full-house with ‘seekers’ (those looking for divine healing)! There is a time set for this boom as the Lord will close the door when the number is up. The difference between those inside and those outside God’s protection will be visible, just as the words of God had declared.
Bible verse: _________The Lord God instructed Noah: (Highlights added by the watchman)
Genesis 6:14 “Build a large boat[c] from cypress wood[d] and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. 15 Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.[e]16 Leave an 18-inch opening[f] below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat—lower, middle, and upper.
17 “Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die. 18 But I will confirm my covenant with you. So enter the boat—you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 19 Bring a pair of every kind of animal—a male and a female—into the boat with you to keep them alive during the flood. 20 Pairs of every kind of bird, and every kind of animal, and every kind of small animal that scurries along the ground, will come to you to be kept alive. 21 And be sure to take on board enough food for your family and for all the animals.”
22 So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.
Genesis 7:15 Two by two they came into the boat, representing every living thing that breathes.16 A male and female of each kind entered, just as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord closed the door behind them.
Genesis 7: 21 All the living things on earth died—birds, domestic animals, wild animals, small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the people. 22 Everything that breathed and lived on dry land died. 23 God wiped out every living thing on the earth—people, livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and the birds of the sky. All were destroyed. The only people who survived were Noah and those with him in the boat. 24 And the floodwaters covered the earth for 150 days.
____________________The General Council of the Assemblies of God
Why Every Church Must Fast, By Bob Rodgers
When my father suddenly died of a heart attack in 1988, the church voted that I succeed him as pastor. The church, having just come through a building program, was hopelessly in debt.
Not knowing what to do, I asked the people to join me in fasting 21 days, fasting one meal a day for 21 days. For the past 18 years I had fasted 1 week during the Christmas-New Year period. So I fasted for 7 days—three meals a day. I felt I had completed the fast. However, the Lord spoke to me to continue, so I fasted the entire 21 days with only liquids.
Immediately I noticed a change in my life. I preached with greater power and authority. Our church began to grow, and finance began to increase. Then the Lord impressed upon me to have our church fast 3 days every month—we took the first Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday each month.
It was easy to get several thousand people to begin fasting on Monday, but when Wednesday came I was fortunate to have a handful still fasting. After several months I initiated a miracle service on the third day—intending to have a goal for the people to reach so they could complete the 3 days.
When I arrived for the miracle service on Wednesday morning I was shocked to find the chapel totally packed and people standing around the inside walls. Some could not get in the door. I preached a very simple message and at the end began to pray for the people. Two were present with terminal cancer. Both were healed that day. Another lady had a growth the size of a grapefruit on her leg. After prayer she went home; the tumor had disappeared. The power of God increased in our church, and that year 37 people were healed of cancer.
The next year, beginning the first Monday in January, I asked the people to join me in fasting for 21 days. At the end of that period 15 people completed the fast on liquids only. The next year 50 people fasted the entire 21 days. The following year 79. The next year 89. Last year over 3,000 fasted something, but 263 fasted with only liquids.
The results in our church have been startling. Our income has multiplied over threefold. We have restructured our finance and are paying our bills. In the past months we baptized 73, and 87 joined the church. All these are the result of fasting and prayer.
I believe there are five reasons why every church needs to have a regular fasting time.
1. JESUS URGED IT.
Throughout the Bible the emphasis is on public fasts. Joel put it this way: “Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly” (2:15). Jesus also put an emphasis on fasting corporately. He declared, “Then shall they fast in those days” (Mark 2:20). He knew the church would be assaulted by the enemy from every direction and, therefore, urged the church to fast. Thus the primary form of fasting is a corporate fast. Secondary fasting is individual fasting.
In Matthew 6, during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught three fundamentals of Christianity: giving, praying, and fasting. We should give not to be seen of men but privately (verse 3). We pray both privately and with other people (verses 5,7). Jesus implied primary prayer is to pray alone. Secondary prayer is to pray with other people. Some things are too private to pray about with others—they are only between God and the one praying.
Fasting individually is secondary because (1) it is easier to fast with other people than alone; (2) fasting corporately brings the most powerful unity a church or body of believers can ever witness; and (3) a corporate anointing is released in a church. Even though some may not be praying for a particular situation, they will benefit from the anointing others receive through that fast. I have seen countless families get better jobs and receive promotions in their businesses during our 21-day fastings, and they were not even praying about those matters. However, someone else was and they received that blessing from the other’s prayers.
2. fasting helps produce faith.
Faith must be released out of our mouths (Romans 10:3–10). Our source of faith is the Word of God, but we must speak it with our mouths.
The same organ we speak with is the same organ we eat with—the tongue. Fasting and faith are first cousins. The tongue speaks faith and eats food. Some unbelief cannot be broken without fasting.
God spoke to Joshua to tell the people as they were ready to invade Jericho, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout’” (Joshua 6:10, NKJV).
There are different types of fasts. In this situation God commanded the people to fast by not speaking. For over a week they could not speak.
Fasting increases faith as we allow God’s Word to saturate our minds.
3. fasting is the spiritual method to bring revival (Joel 2:28).
This passage speaks of a revival that affects the young and the old. It will come to pass “afterward.” After what?
Afterward is used much like the word then. If you will do this, then these blessings will happen in your life. Some requirements are necessary before afterward can take place: (1) “Blow the trumpet in Zion, (2) sanctify a fast, (3) call a solemn assembly” (Joel 2:15).
Fasting must occur before the blessing of afterward can happen. Joel was saying if we will fast and have the people seek God with public fasting, then afterward He will send a revival. Peter quoted this verse in Acts 2.
I have always believed that on the Day of Pentecost the Early Church was fasting in the Upper Room. The reason is not only because of the verse of Scripture Peter quoted from Joel but because of Jewish orthodox tradition.
Up through the fourth century the Early Church, following Jewish tradition, fasted on communion days until 3 o’clock in the afternoon. An orthodox Jew would fast on the sacred feast and holy days of the Jewish calendar until 3 o’clock in the afternoon. They would say their prayers and prepare themselves spiritually for the events that were to happen later that day.
When Peter said, “These are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day,” he was actually saying they were not drinking wine. This was a holy day, and they were fasting until 3 o’clock; it was only 9 o’clock in the morning.
If your church will begin to fast, you have God’s promise from His Word that He will send a revival.
4. fasting puts us in a position to find the perfect will of god (Romans 12:1,2).
We are to present our bodies unto God. One way we do so is through fasting. When we fast we do it as unto the Lord. We experience hunger and sacrifice pleasures so we may draw closer to God. Fasting is not the answer—Jesus is; however, fasting puts us in a place to receive more of Jesus.
God promises to show us His good, acceptable, and perfect will. Many wonderful pastors are not in the perfect will of God. They were in churches in cities where God put them, but difficult times came. Attacks came upon their ministry and the churches, and they decided it was time for them to leave. They moved out of the perfect will of God.
Ministers must renew their minds so they know what is the perfect will of God for them. If they do not, they will always be square pegs in round holes and never accomplish God’s call upon their lives.
To renew your mind, first begin devouring the Word of God every day. Secondly, you must fast. Fasting is much more than suffering a few hunger pains and not eating food. Hunger begins leaving after 3 or 4 days. If you can fast 3 or 4 days, you can fast 21 days or even 40 days.
Fasting is a mental discipline. It is much more difficult to fast mentally than it is physically. Through this process comes a renewal of the mind, a discipline of the mind, a desire to know the perfect will of God.
5. Fasting brings victory.
If this were the only reason to fast, it is enough. Victory is sweet and wonderful. Many would rather suffer defeat and not fast than come out of their comfort zones. Fasting takes you out of your comfort zone but leads you to victory.
For almost 20 years I have fasted between 50 and 75 days each year. I hate to fast, but I dislike being defeated by Satan more.
When you fast and pray, you can defeat even the strongest devils. They flee from you. You don’t have to be afraid. You have the name of Jesus. The power of that Name becomes greatly multiplied in your life when you seek Him in prayer and fasting.
Unless there is a breakthrough in their lives this year, many pastors will not remain in the same church, and some will leave the ministry. For many, 1996 is a pivotal year. I encourage you to add a disciplined, regular time of fasting and prayer to your life and to your church. Victory belongs to you, and fasting is one of the keys to help bring it into your life and ministry.
Bob Rodgers is senior pastor of Evangel Christian Life Center, Louisville, Kentucky.
____________________Communication Ministries Network, Africa
What does the Bible say about fasting?
One aspect of Christian life that is experiencing a revival in our time, is fasting.Perhaps we need to listen once more to the Bible’s teaching about fasting, so as not to miss this blessing.
It is not true that only Pharisees fast. Right through the Bible / also in the New Testament / fasting plays an important role in serving God. During the Reformation fasting was prominent. John Wesley (of the Methodist Church) even refused to ordain a minister who did not fast regularly.
When should a Christian fast?
The famous Reformer John Calvin speaks about the Christian fast in Institute 1V:X11:14-18. He says one should fast for three reasons:
1. To avoid being controlled by the flesh (your sinful nature);
2. For prayer and meditation;
3. As part of repentance and confession of sins.
He stresses especially that a time of fasting and prayer should be called for whenever intercession for an important matter is needed.
John Wesley tells of a national day of prayer and fasting proclaimed by the King of England in 1756 because of an impending attack by France. The churches were filled to overflowing, for everybody realized the danger. Their prayers were answered, and the attack was averted.
Examples from the Bible
We often read of times of prayer and fasting in the Bible, e.g.
– when Christian leaders pray together (Acts 13:1-2);
– when ministers are ordained (Acts 13:3);
– when elders are elected (Acts 14:23);
– when believers are in danger (Esther 4:16);
– when specific prayers are called for (Psalm 35:13).
In the Sermon on the Mount it is clear that Jesus expected his disciples to fast at times. In Matthew 6:16-18 He says, “and when you fast, do not put on a sad face as the hypocrites do . . .”
It is surprising to discover which Bible characters found it necessary to fast, for example Moses (Exodus 24:18); David (Psalm 69:10); Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:1-4); Elijah (1 Kings 19:8); Ezra (Ezra 8:21-23); Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:4); Joel (Joel 2:15 ); Anna (Luke 2:37); Jesus (Matthew 4:2); his disciples (Luke 5:35); Paul (Acts 9:9) and the Christian churches (Acts 14:23).
So we also read in the Didache, a Christian document written in the first century AD, that Christians of that period fasted every Wednesday and Friday.
How does one fast?
There are different ways of fasting:
1. by avoiding delicacies (Daniel 10:3);
2. by eating less than usual;
3. by avoiding all food, but drinking liquids (Luke 4:2);
4. by abstaining from all food and drink (Acts 9:9). (The latter is exceptional, since a normal human cannot live for more than three days
The Christian fast should not be confused with
– eating strikes for political purposes;
– a diet plan to lose weight;
– fasting for health, as has become the fashion lately.
Christian fasting is always combined with prayer, since fasting on its own does not have any value in God’s eyes (Joel 2:13; Isaiah 58:5; Colossians 2:23; Zechariah 7:5). Fasting reveals to us what really controls our lives. It helps to keep the body und er control (1 Corinthians 9:27) and helps us to avoid becoming addicted to anything (1 Corinthians 6:12).
The Christian fast is completely voluntary. It helps you to dedicate yourself completely to prayer. All who practice fasting testify to the value thereof.
If you wish to fast, you are recommended to start by skipping one meal, and later to abstain from food for 24 hours (supper to supper). If you are not very healthy you could also fast for a period of time by just abstaining from rich foods and sweets.
Remember the main purpose of fasting: to have fellowship with God. It is not to try to force God to do something against his will, but to conform yourself to God’s will.
I made an interesting discovery recently: Fasting has been the bread and butter of normal church life for 2000 years! In fact, according to my research, it appears to have been one of the major factors in releasing the power of the Holy Spirit in times of Revival.
I was so taken back with my discovery that I trawled through scores of church history and revival books (electronically!) looking for references to fasting. What I found was astounding! There is clear, documented evidence that all the great leaders and revival movements of church history used this amazing key to add power to their prayers! In one collection of church history documents the software I used refused to reveal its findings, stating ‘the search exceeds the 5,000 limit of this software!’
Could it be that fasting is a vital, but missing ingredient in the 21st century church?
Matthew Henry said “Fasting is a laudable practice and we have reason to lament that it is generally neglected among Christians.”
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones “I wonder whether we have ever fasted? I wonder whether it has even occurred to us that we ought to be considering the question of fasting? The fact is, that this whole subject seems to have dropped right out of our lives and right out of our whole Christian thinking.”
In the early church
In the early Christian Church they fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays. The early church fathers like Jerome, Athanasius, Clement of Rome, John Chrysostom – all I could find – practiced fasting. One day a week, twice a week, whole weeks, even whole months! Martin Luther was criticized because he fasted too much. John Calvin fasted and prayed until most of Geneva turned to God. John Knox fasted and prayed and the wicked Mary, Queen of Scots said she feared no weapon like she feared John Knox’s prayers.
Jonathan Edwards who was God’s instrument in the revival in New England, fasted and prayed. He fasted for 22 hours prior to preaching his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” John Wesley fasted twice a week. Charles Finney one of the greatest revival leaders in history was a man who fasted and prayed. D. L. Moody was not unfamiliar with fasting and praying. During the Prayer Revival in America in 1859, Christians fasted during their lunch hours and attended prayer meetings in churches near their places of employment. In two years 1 million people came to Christ!
Richard Riss who has documented the mid-twentieth century evangelical awakening in America quotes George Hawtin: “The truth of fasting was one great contributing factor to the revival. One year before this we had read Franklin Hall’s book, entitled ‘Atomic Power With God Through Fasting and Prayer.’ We immediately began to practice fasting. Previously we had not understood the possibility of long fasts. The revival would never have been possible without the restoration of this great truth through our good brother Hall.”
Hall’s book on fasting and prayer was a major influence in the ministries of Oral Roberts, William Branham, A. A. Allen, O. L. Jaggers, David Nunn, Tommy Hicks, W. V. Grant and other healing evangelists who were raised up in the late 1940’s and 1950’s.
Even in our own nation (Britain) the greatest revival (of conversion growth) in my lifetime was during Billy Graham’s crusades in the early ‘50s. He reports fasting and praying during his voyage to England before the great work began!
Even this small selection is an impressive testimony of the power of fasting.
Jesus is our example of fasting
Immediately after being baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to spend forty days fasting in the wilderness, Luke 4:1-2. During this forty day period Jesus came into direct spiritual conflict with Satan. Is it possible that Satan knew from history that fasting releases God’s power and that Jesus was now preparing for the ultimate decisive battle? Satan certainly did his utmost to thwart Jesus plans at this point.
The text is revealing. In Luke 4.1, it says “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit ….” but afterwards, in Luke 4.14 we read: “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit”
It seems that the potential of the Holy Spirit’s power, which Jesus received at the time of His baptism in Jordan, only came into its full manifestation after He had completed His fast. Fasting was the final phase of preparation through which He had to pass, before entering into His public ministry. Fasting in the wilderness obviously took Jesus to another level of effectiveness.
Jesus made an interesting comment in Mark 9:29. Remarking on the inability of the disciples to cast out a spirit from a boy, he says that ‘this kind only comes out by prayer and fasting.’ This means that some special situations which are being troubled by satanic powers are better handled by adding fasting to prayer. Again, fasting releases God’s power.
Jesus’ teaching on fasting
In Matthew 6.1-18 we read of instructions Christ gives to His disciples on three related duties: giving to the needy, praying, and fasting. In each case He places His main emphasis upon the motive and warns against religious ostentation for the sake of impressing men. With this qualification, He assumes that all His disciples will practice all three of these duties. This is indicated by the language which He uses concerning each.
In verse 2 He says, “When you [singular] give to the needy . . . .” In verse 6 He says, “When you [singular] pray . . .” (individually); and in verse 7, “When you [plural] pray . . (collectively). In verse 16 He says, “When you [plural] fast . . .” (collectively); and in verse 17, “When you [singular] fast” (individually). In no case does Christ say, if, but always when. The inference is clear. Christ expects that allHis disciples will regularly practice all three of these duties. Giving is a private affair you do on your own. Prayer and fasting are activities that are done regularly, both privately and collectively!
This was not a surprise to the first disciples, for fasting was an accepted part of religious duty among Jews in Christ’s day. They had practiced it continuously from the time of Moses onward. On a number of occasions in the Old Testament we see the entire nation called to fasting. Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast in 2 Chron 20; Ezra proclaimed a fast in Ezra 8:21-23; a fast was employed to release God’s will in Esther’s day. Even non-believers proclaimed a fast at Nineveh and thereby changed God’s intention to destroy them. This was a big issue in their history. It brought the blessing of God down in the most difficult circumstances.
Both the Pharisees and the disciples of John the Baptist fasted regularly. The people were surprised that they did not see the disciples of Jesus doing the same, and they asked Him the reason. Like ‘How can you expect the blessing of God if you don’t fast? Their question, and Christ’s answer, is recorded in Mark: Mark 2:18-20 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.”
The bridegroom, as always in the New Testament, is Christ Himself. The guests of the bridegroom are the disciples of Christ (about whom the question had been asked). The period while the bridegroom is with them corresponds to the days of Christ’s ministry on earth, while He was physically present with His disciples. The period when the bridegroom will be taken from them commenced when Christ ascended back to heaven, and will continue until He returns for His church. In the meantime the church, as a bride, is awaiting the return of the bridegroom. This is the period in which we are now living, concerning which Jesus says very definitely, “And then shall they [the disciples] fast in those days.” In the days in which we now live, therefore, fasting is a mark of true Christian discipleship, ordained by Jesus Himself.
Fasting should be put back on the menu by all those who desire to see another wave of kingdom power sweep their land!
The Practice of the Early Church
Fasting played a vital part in Paul’s ministry. Immediately after his first encounter with Christ on the Damascus road, he spent the next three days without food or drink (Acts 9.9). Ananias was visited by the Lord and given orders to go to such and such a place where he would find Saul of Tarsus. Paul saw Ananias in a vision and when he arrived Ananias laid hands on Saul to receive the Holy Spirit and was then catapulted into the most effective ministry in the early church. We have to ask the question ‘Did Paul’s fast have anything to do with these dynamic results?’
Thereafter fasting was a regular part of his spiritual discipline. In 2 Corinthians 6.3-10 Paul lists various different ways in which he had proved himself a true minister of God. In verse 5 two of the ways listed are: ‘in watchings, in fastings.’ ‘Watching’ signifies going without sleep; ‘fasting’ signifies going without food. Both these disciplines were practiced at times by Paul to make his ministry fully effective.
In 2 Corinthians 11.23-27 Paul returns to this theme. Speaking of other men who set themselves up as his rivals in the ministry, Paul says: “Are they ministers of Christ? … I am more . . . .” He then gives a long list of the various ways in which he had proved himself a true minister of Christ. In verse 27 he says: “In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often . . .” Here again Paul joins ‘watching’ closely with ‘fasting’. The plural form, ‘in fastings often,’ indicates that Paul devoted himself to frequent periods of fasting. ‘Hunger and thirst’ refers to occasions when neither food nor drink was available. ‘Fastings’ refers to occasions when food was available, but Paul deliberately abstained for spiritual reasons.
Also ‘fastings’ probably reflects that he practised different sorts of fasting. Sometimes a total fast of food and water (like all orthodox Jews do once a year on the Day of Atonement); sometimes a fast of just food (as Jesus did); sometimes a partial fast like Daniel who took no ‘choice’ foods; sometimes a daily fast, sometimes many days; sometimes alone and sometimes with others. One of these latter fasts is recorded in Acts 13:1-3.
In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
In this local congregation in the city of Antioch five leading ministers—designated as prophets and teachers—were praying and fasting together. This is described as ministering to the Lord. The majority of Christian leaders or congregations today know very little of this aspect of ministry. Yet, in the divine order, ministry to the Lord comes before ministry to men. Out of the ministry to the Lord, the Holy Spirit brings forth the direction and the power needed for effective ministry to men.
So it was at Antioch. As these five leaders prayed and fasted together, the Holy Spirit revealed that He had a special task for two of them—Barnabas and Saul (later called Paul). He said, “Separate for me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” In this way these two men were called out for a special task.
However, they were not yet ready to undertake the task. They still required the impartation of the special grace and power that were necessary for the task ahead. For this purpose, all five men fasted and prayed together a second time. Then, after the second period of fasting, the other leaders laid their hands on Barnabas and Paul, and sent ‘them forth to fulfil their task.’
So it was through collective prayer and fasting that Barnabas and Paul received, first, the revelation of a special task, and second, the grace and power needed to fulfil that task. At the time they all prayed and fasted together, Barnabas and Paul—like the other three men—were recognized as prophets and teachers. But after being sent forth to their task, they were described as apostles (see Acts 14.4, 14). We may therefore say that the apostolic ministry of Barnabas and Paul was born out of collective prayer and fasting by five leaders of the church at Antioch.
In due course this practice of collective prayer and fasting was transmitted by Barnabas and Paul to the congregations of new disciples which were established in various cities as a result of their ministry. The actual establishment of each congregation was accomplished through the appointment of their own local elders. This is described in Acts:
Acts 14:23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
So there we have it! Fasting releases the power of God through our prayers like nothing else can! It is normal for every Christian to fast. Jesus practiced this method and the early church followed suit. Of course there is much more teaching on the subject in Scripture but we have to conclude that there is hardly anyone who saw the intervention of God and great advance of His Kingdom, whether in the Bible or since the Bible was first penned, that did not use this dynamic addition to their prayer lives. They fasted!
Charles Spurgeon, the London pastor from a century ago, said, ‘Our seasons of fasting and prayer at the Tabernacle have been high days indeed; never has Heaven’s gate stood wider; never have our hearts been nearer the central Glory.’
Men and women that God has used mightily throughout history, have similarly believed this. They saw God’s glory manifest in their day. The possibility of joining their ranks is offered to every believer today. Right around the world thousands of believers are practicing prayer with fasting. The Lord is preparing his great army for a glorious and final outpouring of his Spirit to restore the glory to the church and in the world, before his return. Let’s put fasting back on our menu!
The watchman recently suffered an acute and painful attack on his back and could hardly lie on his bed or rise after he lied down. He reached a point when he dreaded sleeping as it would involve lying down in excruciating pain and thereafter getting up with the same suffering. He was deprived of sleep and rest.
He was then urged by someone to read a testimony about a man encountering a severe motor accident wherein he broke four bones at different parts of his body and was bleeding and in shock when he was brought to the church. He lived divine and did not take medicine or use any medical facilities.The watchman actually had seen this man a few days after the accident as he happened to attend a seminar at that same church. The man recovered totally without any treatment except prayers, worship and proclaiming Bible verses.
In the written testimony the man quoted a number of Bible verses to which he clung when he was in the healing process. When the watchman read this, he was led by the Holy Spirit to take hold of one particular Bible verse:
Ephesians 5:30 “For we are members of His body,[a] of His flesh and of His bones.”
By faith he proclaimed this Bible verse and command his body (flesh) to resume divine function as Jesus’ body would have functioned. He further by faith proclaimed 1 John 4:17, “As He is, so are we in this world.”
He woke the next day without difficulty. After another day he woke and rose with no trace of the pain! The watchman was healed after receiving the word of God and duly proclaiming them by faith.
It is indeed wonderful to be able to hear God and obey His words. But many have told the watchman that they wanted to hear God and could not. Why? During interceding for his loved ones, the watchman asked the Lord today and received the answer as follows:
James 3:14-16 “14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but isearthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seekingexist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”
The Lord explains, when you seek yourself, how can you be seeking God? You will only hear your own voice and not God’s voice! You would be busy devising your own way and means by your own earthly, sensual and demonic wisdom. You would not be able to hear God’s will or obey His word.
Jesus has thus warned,
Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV) I Never Knew You
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
The watchman observed an increase in depression and even panic attack cases lately. He witnessed the helplessness and suffering of such victims even when under medication. Only after the family of the patient had exhausted all medical and psychiatric means, they came to seek help from the Lord. As led by the Holy Spirit the team of brethren would normally pray and do deliverance. He learned that when one listened and obeyed the Holy Spirit, and prayed accordingly, then the calming result would be instant. Indeed in many occasions he noted that like Paul taught the Corinthians church in 1 Cor.12 on the many gifts of the Holy Spirit, the body of Christ consists of many parts and all members must function together as a harmonious team to be effective. However, there are times when resources run out and all hands are required on deck. The Lord will give gift suitable for that occasion to the willing and available.
For example, he is a word and watchman person. He has a spiritual watchtower and has passion for the words of God only. So he normally stays away from healing and deliverance. However, when others are not available or seem to be stuck with a difficult situation, then he (being a spiritual jack of all ‘trades’ for teaching purposes) would have no choice but to ask the Holy Spirit to show him what to do with the person who manifests and urgently needs help. Often he receives the words instantly and when applied, the positive outcome shows he hears correctly.
Thus he often receives words (even when he has not asked) which demonstrate how one can use to counter every situation. The following two psalms are bonuses received today. These are generic ways of dealing with mental situations. The Lord is merciful and full of loving-kindness. This is grace.
Psalm 63:6-8 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the nightwatches. Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.
Watchman’s Notes on Psalm 63 (The watchman noticed this psalm when he realized that David was a watchman/intercessor too!)
The psalmist was actually flying under the wings of God with his soul following the Lord closely. That means even our souls can follow the Holy Spirit. David was a watchman intercessor. He practiced. He started this prayer by saying how his soul and his flesh thirst and long for God’s presence. He knew that he could find and see God in His power and glory, in the sanctuary, in worship and in praise. Thus his soul could be satisfied. Even at night he continued to meditate on God in the night watches and remember God’s help. Thus he could enjoy the soaring of his soul like an eagle, following God’s wings! That is why David was described as a man after God’s heart!
Psalm 77 (For depression and other form of mental attacks)
2 In the day of my troubleI sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; My soulrefused to be comforted. 3 I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. 6 I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, And my spirit makes diligent search. 7 Will the Lord cast off forever? 10 And I said, “This is my anguish; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.” 11 I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. 12 I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds.
Watchman’s Notes on Psalm 77The psalmist gave a solution to trouble. When in trouble, he observed and learned from the following:
He prayed without ceasing, even at night.
His soul refused to be comforted until he received his solution.
When he complained, his spirit was affected (overwhelmed).
So even at night he worshiped and sang to the Lord and meditated within his heart.
His spirit made diligent search of his memory for him.
His spirit enables him to ask relevant questions regarding the nature of God: His favor, mercy, promises, grace etc. which never failed.
His spirit made him see the reason of his problem, i.e. he had put his focus on the wrong things. When he realized his mistake, he re-focused (remembered, meditated and even talked about) on God’s wonderful works of old.
After the psalmist broke through he concluded by giving a testimony on the great works that God had done to His people. (v13-20).)
Watchman’s overall summary on his observations
1. Live and be led by the Holy Spirit is a must for living an overcomer life. Let your spirit take over. Your spirit connects to the Holy Spirit Who searches all things.
2. Always focus on God’s goodness. Remember all the good deeds and wonders He has done in the past.
3. Meditate on them.
4. Talk to others about the goodness of God. Give testimony.
5. Join other brethren in worship and praise God together.
_________________Bible verses on the God of Peace (Jesus)
1 Peter 1:2
elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied. 1 Peter 1:1-3 (in Context) 1 Peter 1 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations