Joel 1:14 Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.
Fasting is mentioned 75 times in scripture. Here are some things we can learn from these references:
—— Jesus spoke about fasting on many occasions and modeled it in his own life
Fasting was Common in the Early Church
—— The book of Acts is basically the historical record of the first church or what is often referred to as the “early church”. And in the early church, we can find many occasions which indicate fasting was common practice.
Fasting can be Corporate or Personal
How does fasting work?
There are three parts to you as a human being:
- Body — your physical self
- Soul — Emotional capacity, your will, your desires, your mental capacity
- Spirit — Is the only part of you that is like God. Some people like to call it the spirit man)
Your spirit man is the part of you that when you give your life to Jesus,—.
Fasting weakens the flesh.
Fasting disconnects us from the things that feed body and soul so that our spirit man can be strengthened. —- That strength comes as draw close to God.
TYPES of FASTS
Absolute Fast – No food or water and usually not done for more than 3 days. It’s not a fast I recommend anyone doing unless you are sure God is leading you to do it.
Complete Fast – No food. Only water or other liquids. (juices or vegetable broths)
Partial Fast – Fasting food and or other things. Not eating at certain times. Setting aside other things that consume our lives like TV, Social media, etc.
Daniel Fast – A particular fast that is taken from the book of Daniel. It’s done for 21 days, and it basically comes down to not eating meats, sweets and breads.
If you find yourself spending more time in the kitchen preparing a special diet, than you are spending time in prayer, then you are missing the point of the fast.
“Don’t forget to pray and spend time with God when you fast”. If you fast without praying, that’s what’s called a diet.
21 Days of Prayer & Fasting– Fasting needs to have some focus
We’ll take a look at 5 Focuses or Declarations —- since they are declarations and fasts found in Scripture.
- Declare a Spiritual Awakening
(1 Samuel 7:3-6) So Samuel said to all the Israelites, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” …On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the LORD.”
Sometimes we need to get rid of things in our lives that we have allowed to take the place of God.
- Declare freedom from bondage
Those areas in your life that you just can’t seem to overcome. —- It’s that habit or struggle that just hangs on and won’t let go. —- Hebrews 12:1 calls them sins that entangle us or sins that trip us up over and over. —— These are the areas of your life that need prayer and fasting focus. —- In the book of Mark, we find the account of Jesus’ disciples that encountered a boy that was demon possessed and they couldn’t do anything about it.
Mark 9:28-29 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
—- Jesus was telling them they were dealing with what the bible calls a stronghold.—- Whatever stronghold you are dealing with in your life, God wants you to be free from it! —As you fast and pray declare freedom from that area of your life in Jesus name and see what God does.
God can set you free from emotional bondage, fear or depression as well.
- Declare blessing over trouble
Trouble is that area of your life in trouble. —— It could be your finances, your health, your marriage. Could be your kids. It’s that thing that is keeping you up at night.
Ezra 8:21—- 21 I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. 23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.
Ezra was a teacher and priest of the Lord on a mission to bring 7500 lbs of gold and 2 million pounds of silver from where he was to Jerusalem. ——- To do this, he needed to bring his family and all the people he cared about through an area that was overrun with bandits and thieves. —— He was about to face trouble! —— So he proclaimed a fast —— to humble himself before God and ask for a safe journey for himself, his family and all their possessions.
What happened? 23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.
Not to discourage you on the first day of a brand new year that is full of hope and optimism, —— but trouble will likely come to you this year. —— It’s called life. —- It’s coming, but the good news is that you can have blessing over that trouble. —— Like Ezra, as we humble ourselves before God, we can ask him for blessing over the trouble. —— We can ask God for healing in our bodies. ——- We can declare blessing in our marriages, our families our careers our callings.
- Declare wisdom for the future
During a fasting period, you can get the mind of God on a situation. —- Should I take this job, quit this job, should I move, should I stay, should I marry this person? —- You have some decisions you need God’s wisdom to make!
In Acts chapter 9, we see Saul who later became known as Paul. (Acts 9:3-6, vs8-9, vs17-18) As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again.
Some of you are there. —— Your life is confusing right now and you don’t know what to do. For some of you during this fast, —— the scales are going to fall off your eyes and you will see clearly the path God is leading you on. He’s going to speak to you in ways that only he can and he will make it clear what you have been asking.
- Declare Victory Over Our Enemy
You have an enemy! —— The devil exists and he is the enemy of your soul. —— He will do everything he can in this coming year to knock you down and steal what God has done in your life. In John 10:10 Jesus called him the thief.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:10-13
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Daniel 10:1-3 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision. At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.
War happened in the heavenly realm during those 21 days. After the 21 days an angel of the Lord appeared to Daniel and vs 19 says, the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength.
You will face battles in the heavenly realms this year. But remember this, we can declare victory over our enemy in 2017 in the name of Jesus! As we start out this year with fasting and prayer let’s get ready to see God do some amazing things in our lives!