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A FASTING REFRESHER

Fasting Overview // Hunger for the Word of God

A. In sports, when a team is struggling they don’t work on trick plays or fancy moves. They work on the fundamentals—they get back to the basics. When we are struggling spiritually, it is usually the basic disciplines of the Christian life that we have gotten away from.

B. The world comes at us daily. The flesh rises up daily. The devil tempts us daily. So we need to combat these things DAILY with the Word, prayer, fellowship, walking in love, etc.

C. In Matthew 13:52 Jesus said that a good teacher “brings out...things NEW and [things] OLD.” The NLT says that he “brings from his storeroom NEW gems of truth as well as OLD.” 

D. As a Bible teacher, in every message I try to bring forth new gems and remind you of things that you have heard before but that you may have laid aside.

 

THE THREE CHRISTIAN DISCIPLINES

 

A. In Matthew 5-7, Jesus teaches what is commonly called the sermon on the mount. His teaching in these three chapters is radically different than the world’s way of thinking and living.

 

Matthew 6:1-18

 

B. Jesus lists three Christian disciplines here—giving, praying and fasting.

 

Vs. 1-4 Jesus refers to giving. “When you do a charitable deed” (vs. 2).

Vs. 5-15 Jesus refers to praying. “When you pray” (vs. 5).

Vs. 16-18 Jesus refers to fasting. “When you fast” (vs. 17).

 

C. Most Christians:

1. Give once weekly.

2. Pray almost daily.

3. Fast almost never.

D. The word “when” is seven seven times in the first 18 verses. God expects us to do these things.

E. A rope braided with three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). When giving, praying and fasting are practiced together by a believer they, likewise, combine to create a type of threefold cord that is not easily broken.


Vs. 16-17 “When you fast...” - This says when you fast, not if you fast.

 

F. The word “fast/fasted/fasting(s)” in its various forms is found over 70 times in the Bible.

 

FIVE TYPES OF FASTING

 

(1) A PROCLAIMED/CORPORATE FAST - A proclaimed/corporate fast is when a whole congregation, city or nation is called by their leader(s) to fast.


A. In the Old Testament, fasting was the primary way people humbled themselves before the Lord.

 

Ezra 8:21 “Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God...” (See also 2 Chronicles 20:3, 4.)

 

(2) AN ABSOLUTE FAST - An absolute fast is when you partake of no food or water.

A. This should not be done for an extended period of time. The human body cannot go longer than about three days without water (Esther 4:16; Jonah 3:5-10).

 

Ezra 10:6 “Ezra...ate no bread and drank no water for he mourned because of the guilt of those from the captivity.”

 

(3) A NORMAL FAST - A normal fast is when you go without food. You just drink water or perhaps some juice, broth, etc. 

A. Notice the words “ate” and “hungry” in the below verse. This makes no mention of Jesus being thirsty. Evidently, He ate no food but drank water.

 

Luke 4:2 “And in those days [Jesus] ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.”

 

(4) A PARTIAL FAST - A partial fast—also called a Daniel fast—is when you only have things like juices, vegetables, fruits, etc. This eating is on a limited basis.

A. Daniel apparently did eat some things but had no choice food, meat or wine.

 

Daniel 10:2, 3 (Message) “During those days, I, Daniel, went into mourning...for three weeks. I ate only plain and simple food, no seasoning or meat or wine.”

Vs. 3 (NLT) “All that time I had eaten no rich food.”

Vs. 3 (Amp) “I ate no pleasant or desirable food.” 


B. Daniel ate no pleasant food. I believe there are other things that are pleasant to us that we can set aside. We can also abstain from pleasures such as television, the computer, social media, etc. and use that time to pray and seek the Lord.

 

(5) A FASTED LIFE - This is abstaining from pleasures such as TV and social media and using that time to pray. We cut out the world’s influence for a season.

A. Kenneth E. Hagin once said, “After several years of fasting two days a week, the Lord said to me, ‘I WOULD BE MORE PLEASED IF YOU WOULD LIVE A FASTED LIFE.’ I said, ‘What do you mean, a fasted life?’ He said, Never eat all you want. Keep your appetite under.’” Brother Hagin began doing that and said, “I never ate all I wanted. I started having more results because I more or less constantly lived the fasted life.”

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION

 

A. Derek Prince defined fasting as “voluntary abstaining from food FOR SPIRITUAL PURPOSES.”

B. Here are some ideas to consider:

 

1. Commit yourself to fast this month.

A. Give up certain things for the entire time. After a while, you may not even miss them. Choose either twenty-one or forty days.

 

Daniel 1:8, 9 “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself [with foods that were unlawful for the Jews]... . Now [as a result of his obedience] God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs.

 

B. Someone said, “All believers are supposed to fast but no regulations or set rules are given as to how long or how often. This is determined by individual desire and needs.”

C. Ask the Lord what He would have you to do. Purpose in your heart to fulfill your commitment to the Lord during these twenty-one/forty days. As you do, favor will follow you.

 

2. Remember that fasting changes you, not God.

A. We cannot fast to make God do anything. He is the same before, during and after the fast. But fasting puts us in a better position to receive from the Lord.

 

3. Fasting should be accompanied by prayer.

A. To fast without praying is actually just dieting.     

B. You can pray without fasting but you should not fast without praying. Take some extra time to pray both personally (alone) and corporately (with others).

C. Some cannot fast from foods because of pregnancy, health reasons, etc. But everyone can and should fast SOMETHING to seek the Lord.

D. Cut back (or out) radio, television, social media, etc. for this season. Whatever you choose to do, there should be some sacrifice involved.

 

4. Determine what your purpose is and believe for God’s reward in advance.

A. If you don’t have a purpose, you won’t know whether your fast bore fruit.

B. Claim the promises found in Isaiah 58 regarding those who fast with the right heart and motives.

 

Hebrews 11:6 “...He (God) is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

 

MAKE GOD’S WORD YOUR HIGHEST PRIORITY  

 

Hebrews 4:12 (NLT) “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword...”

Vs. 12 (Amp) “For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]...”

 

A. There are many great books but no other book in the world is literally alive and full of power. The Bereans were known for searching the Scriptures every day.

B. You need to eat every day to be strong and healthy physically. In the same way, you need to feed on the Bible DAILY to be strong and healthy spiritually.

C. Deuteronomy 17:14-20 gives us God’s instructions to the kings of Israel. 

 

Vs. 18-20 (NLT) “When [the king] sits on the throne as king, he must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. He must always keep that copy with him and read it DAILY as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the Lord his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees. This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way.”

 

D. If you haven’t done so already, commit to a time of daily personal devotions. Take time on a regular basis to read the Bible through in its entirety.

 

E. Most people today have their values shaped more by the culture of the day than by the Scriptures. Often what the Bible teaches goes against the grain of contemporary culture. Let God be true and every man a liar.

 

Job 23:12 (NLT) “I have not departed from His commands, but have treasured His words more than daily food [NKJV: necessary food].”

 

F. To Job, being in God’s Word was more important than eating. Food feeds our body. The Word of God feeds our spirit and soul.

G. We need to esteem earthly things lightly. Many of the things that consume our attention are not that important in the light of eternity. We’re not to be preoccupied with natural things. We are to be eternity-minded. We are to set our hearts on things above (Colossians 3:1).

Example: Brylcreem was a men’s hair styling gel in the 1960's. Their advertising slogan was, “Brylcreem—A Little Dab’ll Do Ya!” We have too many “Brylcreem Christians” today. A little dab of God and His Word will do them just fine.

H. God is concerned about your finances, your health, your emotional well being, etc. But He is more concerned about your spiritual condition than anything else.

Example:

1970's - We would drive 100's of miles to hear the Word of God preached.

 

Example: When I went to Rhema, Kenneth E. Hagin taught the third lesson of school each day. Students would go from the other buildings to the main building to hear him teach. They would literally run from the other buildings to the RCA building to get a seat up front. Some of the older students were getting knocked over by younger students making a dash for the class. They eventually had to give us assigned seats so no one got hurt. That is the kind of hunger people had for the Word of God being preached with power. 

 

2020's - The hunger is burning low. We now have the knowledge but have lost the zeal and passion for the Word of God.

I. In the same way that you can lose your appetite physically, you can lose your spiritual appetite.

J. I challenge you this month to give the Word of God as much time as you do social media. The more you feed on the Word, the more you will want to!

K. Bill Johnson said, “Hunger is normal. If an infant doesn’t eat for a day, the child is sick. The absence of hunger is a sign of a problem. The lack of spiritual hunger is the same. In the natural, you get hungry by not eating, but in the kingdom, you get hungry by eating. ...If I can get [a person] to eat, they’ll become hungry.” MFM