n the Part one of this series we defined what is prayer in diverse ways, we also shared why prayer is important to God and for human beings, lastly we gave several points on why we should pray. Let us see what the Holy Spirit will reveal to us about fasting. Enjoy your spiritual meal.
Prayer and fasting are like two likable sisters. Better still they can also be described as two sides of a coin. What we are trying to say is that they work and walk together and their combination according to Jesus Christ (Matt 17:21) has tremendous spiritual power that can transform and manifest in tangible physical realities.
WHAT IS FASTING?
Fasting, by definition, is going without food and/or drink for a period of time. Typically it is done for religious reasons and involves a person refraining from both food and drink (Esther 4:16), although there are variations that may be done for health reasons. Fasting is abstaining from all or some kinds of food or drink, especially as a religious observance.
In our time we fast for the wrong reasons. Some think fasting is to bribe God or put pressure on God to answer prayers. Some people fast, hoping that it will increase the chance of God answering their prayer requests. Jesus, however, told us that the primary means to answered prayer is faith, not fasting (see Matt. 21:22). Fasting is not a means to "twist God's arm," or a way of saying to Him, "You better answer my prayer or I will starve myself to death!". That is not a biblical fast-that is a hunger strike! Fasting is not to impress people as we make noise about fasting today. Fasting is to discipline you to hear God among many benefits.
Fasting is an ancient time practice, it spans the ages and transverses both the OT and NT. We fast for many reasons. Fasting in the Old Testament expresses grief and penitence. For example, the people of Jabesh Gilead, upon hearing of Saul's mistreatment by the Philistines, took the bodies of Saul and his sons from Beth Shan and went to Jabesh, where they burned their bodies. Following their burial, the Scriptures inform its readers that the people fasted for seven days (1 Samuel 31:11-13). An example of penitence associated with fasting is found in 1 Samuel 7:6: "When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the LORD. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, 'We have sinned against the LORD.' And Samuel was leader of Israel at Mizpah" (NIV). Fasting helps us identify our weakness and strength and seek for help when needed, fasting helps us to find direction in the jungle of life.
We fast to draw ourselves nearer to God and to develop our hospitality skills among many other things. According to Isaiah: "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen, to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and to break every yoke, is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood Isaiah (58:6-7).
Fasting is a means of "putting the flesh under," as the desire to eat is a legitimate and non-sinful desire, unlike the obvious "desires of the flesh" listed in Galatians 5:19-21. Fasting helps us to gain spiritual energy or acquire power to do ministry. When the disciples could not cast out demons, Jesus gave them a clue to how they could get it done. "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." Matt 17:21. Though Jesus is God, He took time to fast before commencing ministry. Moses fasted before God gave him the Commandments. Elijah fasted for 40 days which was precipitated by self-pity and fear resulting from Jezebel's threat to kill him in retaliation for killing 400 of her prophets and 450 of that of Ashtoreth.(1King19). Fasting enables you to acquire godly power to face the challenges of life, calling and ministry
Other reasons for fasting include fasting to lose weight. Fasting to get demons out of your bodies (when you fast demons leave on their volition, they are more comfortable with gluttons). The bible commands us to fast (Matt 6:16-18; 9). David fasted to restore fellowship with God after his amorous and adulterous affairs with Beersheba and the killing of Uriah (2 Sam 12). Nehemiah fasted as a means to humble himself and to gather strength for destiny fulfilment and pursue God given purpose the rebuilding of Jerusalem gates.(Neh 1:4-6). The Church leaders prayed and fasted to give guideline on making a decision in Acts 13:1-2. Paul also fasted for guidance Acts 14:23.Jesus fasted for strength before starting his earthly ministry. Lk 4:1-11 and disciples, did so Lk 9:29. Fasting for biblical purposes should draw us closer to God. It should help us break away from the desire to satisfy our own lusts and materialism. Summarily, one can conclude that fasting helps get our needs met, spiritual, physical, emotional and financial.
TYPES OF FASTING
There are many types of fasting today ranging from individual fasting to corporate fasting. Fasting is done any day of the week within the month or year. Some churches undertake corporate fast nowadays ranging from the beginning of the year to any time in the year. The Lord instructed me and our church members several years ago when I was pastoring Christ Apostolic Church Bethel Effurun which God enabled us to start in1985 at Shell Ogunnu Estate to fast for 21 days, it was not common then as it is today. We are grateful to God for helping us to champion that course. Many Christians and Churches have found that God meets with them in very unique and special ways. Since we started this fasting program all manner of miracles and healings have happened in the church. With the age of social media, when we started the fasting this year (March 1-21), our past church members across the globe who have participated in the exercise reached out to me to share their experiences and testimonies. We give all the glory to God. There are open ended fasting, you fast without any specific day to end. Last year we were in Ghana, a Pastor, who owns a 24 hour television told me how he prayed to secure money for the facility. He said he called his church members to fast, they fasted for 3 days and nothing happened, they continued for 7 days, 21 days, until 201 days when God opened the windows of blessing and downloaded money to him to start the television ministry.
Duration of Fasting: ½ day fast, 1 day fast, 3 day fast, 7 days , 21 days fast, 40 days 70 days and 100 days and others. The most popular is 1, 3,7 21 and 40 days fast.
- Specific Food or Activity Fast: In this type of fast you abstain from food from 12am till 6pm. You may also find it extremely beneficial to fast from a regular activity or habit. This might include things such as television, social media, and the like. Prayer and fasting are not just about connecting to God but also about disconnecting from the world. Try to tune out some of the regular distractions from your day as much as possible. Replace that time with things that will nourish you spiritually, like reading the bible,praying and listening to messages and sermons that can build you up.
- Daniel Fast:The Daniel fast is a great model to follow and one that is extremely effective for spiritual focus, bodily discipline, and purification of the body and soul. It involves two types, not eating rich (or choice) foods, as well as no meat or wine. The foundation of the Daniel fast is fruits and vegetables. Some starchy vegetables and dairy could be included, but that depends on the individual. Your goal should be to seek God in prayer about this and follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do.
- Juice Fast: A juice fast is simply consuming vegetable and fruit juices and water instead of solid food during the days of your fasting. Many people include protein in their liquid plan as well. This is one of the most popular and effective fasts. You can choose not to make your entire fast liquids only, substituting one or two meals for liquids is a great alternative.
- Water Fast: A water-only fast is the normal fast referred to in the Bible. This is how Jesus and the New Testament church fasted. A water fast is not eating any food or drinking any liquids, except water. Periodic water fasts can be very beneficial, but extreme precautions should be taken. For some people it is hard to perform effectively in their jobs and have energy while drinking only water.
- Dry Fast: Fasting without eating or drinking water. This is not advised for more than a maximum of 7 days.
HOW TO FAST
"Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. "Matt 6:16-18
People fast for many reasons as mentioned above but fasting should be with a genuine motive which is to honour God among other things. How you fast depends on the length of your fast. 1 to 7 days fasting it is not regarded as long days but anything more could be considered as long and how you break long fasting also matters. Whatever type of fasting, ensure you pray before your fast. Pray, confessing every one of your sins, and inviting the Holy Spirit to lead your life. Spend the time in seclusion, read, study, and meditate on the word of God. Fasting without praying and reading the word of God is just 'hunger strike'. The bible says Ask, Seek and Knock.
As a corporate body, each church should pray together. In this 21 day of praying as a church we meet every evening, share the word/each with a different minister, sing, and prophesy and pray. Fasting helps the church members to know God better and have their needs met and the backslider to see God in another dimension and return to God. Those who do not know the Lord encounter God and experience salvation. It is also an opportunity to pray for the sick and minister deliverance and they receive their healing.
PRACTICAL EXAMPLE OF THE COMBINATION OF FASTING AND PRAYING AND THE BLESSINGS.
"15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." Matt 17:15-16, 19&21KJV
Jesus gave us reason for praying and fasting in this 'live' experience where he literarily, removed 'lunacy' from a young boy. This is not a parable, it was a co-op, a practicum for the disciples of his days, call it field experience for future apostles, it was an industrial training session for the disciples and I guess, fast tracking it forward for you and I.
Praying and fasting has the capacity to suspend the natural and make room for the supernatural. That was buttress by Jesus when He declared 'This kind' cannot happen except by prayer and fasting. As mentioned before, there is too much talk about praying, particularly in North America, we are talkers and not doers when it comes to the issue of praying. The least attended Christian event is prayer meetings and least participated Christian spiritual exercise is fasting. No wonder the seeming powerlessness of our spiritual age. My advice, is that we shift gear from today, from prayerlessness to prayerfulness. From fasting less-ness to fasting-fullness.
As we fast and pray:
When you want lunacy to give way, this day and beyond- Jesus' prescription of 'this kind' will help you- take an injection of prayer and fasting. An overdose has a positive effect and is allowed and recommended!
- The lunacy of our children will disappear.
- The lunacy of our spouse will disappear.
- The lunacy in the church will disappear.
- The lunacy in our ministry will disappear
- The lunacy in our marriages that leads to separation and divorce will disapper
- The lunacy of our parents, relations will disappear.
- The lunacy, madness in the society will disappear.
- Lunacy in your business will disappear. There will be profitability and corresponding prosperity.
- The lunacy (corruption) in governance will disappear. Secrets will be revealed and appropriate sanctions will be applied.
- The lunacy of your life will disappear.
This month we hope that we have learnt one or two things about praying and fasting which will motivate you to pray. The issue is not lack of knowledge about prayer and fasting but the culture of prayerlessness and unwillingness to fast that has over showed our age and generation. In Matthew 6, three things are clear, God knows our need, and yet encourages us to ask (pray) and fast for us to have positive result in our life endeavours. Remember my three wisdom keys, wisdom is knowing what next to do, skill is knowing how to do it and virtue is doing it. Discipline yourself to pray and fast from today, from this month! It is my prayer that as you fast and pray God will hear your prayers and grant you victory in all areas of your life. Remember to share your testimonies with us. God bless. Shalom.
Pastor Amos Dada is an author and a notable conference speaker, he is the Senior Pastor and District Superintendent Christ Apostolic Church Bethel Toronto. He is the Convener of International Gathering of Eagles (IGOE) Conferences and President of the Canadian Institute of Leadership and Development. Invite him to your next event and do your best to attend IGOE 2018 from September 13-16. Save August 11, 2018 for Canada Return to Your Maker Prayer Summit, in Toronto, Canada. You can also subscribe to his channel on YouTube, join him on Facebook and follow him o Twitter.