Fundamentals of Fasting
THE FUNDAMENTALS OF FASTING
Part 1 of 21 DAYS.
Peter Foxwell. The Cornerstone Church. August 19, 2018.
Today, I'm inviting you to join me in 21 days of prayer and fasting. I believe the Lord wants to do a supernatural work in and through our church. Prayer and fasting are key to that happening.
Jentezen Franklin wrote in his book Fasting: "The discipline of fasting releases the anointing, the favor, and the blessing of God in the life of a Christian." (p. 4)
Before I share the details of our 21 day fast, I need to pass on to you the fundamentals of fasting. We see these at the beginning of Jesus' ministry as it is outlined in Luke 3-4.
(Luke 3:21-23) When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry ...
(Luke 4:1-2) Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
THE FUNDAMENTALS OF FASTING
1. Why? The rationale to fast. We fast because of the Father's love.
Fasting is the discipline of going without something for the sake of going after God. Fasting is usually about food, but it can be other things such as Netflix or social media.
Why go without? Why fast?
Jesus stopped eating right after his Father said, "I love you." - 3:22. We can safely say that Jesus wasn't motivated to fast by a need to earn God's love. He wasn't on a religious treadmill. He wasn't desperate for approval.
Jesus was motivated to fast by a desire to feast on the Father's love - he wanted to live in it, experience it to its fullest, to drink deep from it.
(Psalms 34:8) Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
I'm asking you to fast with me, but don't do it out of duty. Do it out of delight - "Lord, all I want is to soak in your love."
(Psalms 63:2-3) I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
2. How? The resources to fast. We fast by the Holy Spirit's power.
Jesus didn't eat for 40 days. That's taking things to the limit and I'm not suggesting anyone here attempt that. I have some suggestions about fasting and I'll share those at the end.
To be honest the thought of missing even one meal creates massive cravings in my mind. I need help to dethrone King Stomach and there is supernatural help available. The Holy Spirit is our constant prayer helper.
(Romans 8:26) In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
Luke wants us to know that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. He says it twice so we get it - 3:22; 4:1-2. The point is: What ultimately sustained Jesus and what ultimately sustains us is not food, but the Holy Spirit.
When we fast, we can expect the Spirit to intercede for us, to sustain us when we're weak, and to redirect our cravings to God. We're going to learn that what we need most for life and ministry is God himself.
(Psalms 36:7-9) How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 8 They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. 9 For with you is the fountain of life;
The presence of God is food we cannot see, but it feeds and satisfies our deepest selves. That is how we are able to fast.
3. When? The reason to fast. We fast when God is ready to move.
The Spirit led (4:1) Jesus into the desert to fight a great spiritual battle in the war against sin and the satan. His victory in the desert was strategic. If Jesus had failed there as Israel did after the Exodus, there would have been no road to the cross and no resurrection. His fast was for the salvation of the world.
Fasting should never be routine. The Spirit leads us to fast when there are strategic spiritual battles ahead. When God is ready to move among us, he calls us to fast/pray.
I believe we're in a crucial season at the Cornerstone. The Lord is positioning us for supernatural advance, but first we must be prepared, focused, and centered on him, soaked in his love, equipped with his presence and power.
When the Lord wanted the church in Antioch to pioneer outreach to the nations (a strategic moment in salvation and church history), he first led them to fast and pray.
(Acts 13:2-3) While they were worshiping 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.
God is ready to move among us. Let's fast and pray for it.
Ask for an extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit's presence and power. Ask for renewed faith, new devotion, fresh anointing, for gospel advance.
God can do in a moment what we have struggled to do for years.
On Wednesday, Kim and I visited the Billy Graham Museum on the campus of Wheaton College. I was in tears as we walked around. I couldn't speak because I was shaken to the core by the power of God in the ministry of Billy Graham. There was one photo of him preaching the Gospel to a million people in Korea. I thought, why not here, now, us?
That's why I'm asking you to fast and pray. So God will move with unstoppable power. The Holy Spirit will be poured out in extreme measure in our church, in our lives, in our neighborhoods, and people will be saved.
I'm asking you to join me in a 21 day fast. Before you commit, let me explain what that involves.
Pick up the 21 Day Prayer Guide on the book table and info table. It's also available on our website. Go to FamousGod.com/blog. Use it every day to guide your prayers and keep you focused. Before you start a fast, read the introduction and be sure to consult a doctor if you have physical issues. Also pick up a book or two on the table.
Choose how you are going to fast. For example, you could skip one meal every day; you could skip all meals on one or two days each week. You could try a Daniel Fast (See Daniel 10:2) and cut out meat, desserts, candy, etc. Just eat very plain meals. Or you could fast from social media, TV, candy, or something else for 21 days.
Fast AND pray. Fasting on its own is just dieting. But we want to make our fast mean something. So, we'll use those meal times to pray, our cravings to redirect us to God, times of weakness to lead us deeper into the grace of God. Ask the Lord what your fast is about. Listen to the Spirit as he leads you. Make a prayer list. Use the prayer guide. Stay radical and don't let it become routine. Remember this: Fasting is physical pain for spiritual gain. Only do it for that reason. Otherwise, stop.
Partner with someone. Encourage each other when fasting is hard and you feel like giving up. Help each other stay focused on the strategic reasons for the fast. Pray together and pray for each other.
I feel a very great need to fast and pray for the next three weeks. If the Spirit leads you, please join me.
(Zechariah 4:6) Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.