It has been well said that prayer is not preparation for the battle -- prayer IS the battle.
And of all the things we can do to enhance the power and focus of prayer, FASTING is doubtless the most potent.
This is where the power is at, because fasting puts us in harmony with an All-Powerful God who demands humility from those who wish to be close to Him. Fasting humbles the flesh. When it is done for that purpose, it pleases the Spirit of God.
You can go a certain distance in God, and experience many things, without fasting much, but the highest, richest and most powerful blessings always go to those who together with other disciplines, fast much unto God.
The most significant Biblical characters, with the possible exception of Abraham, were all men (and women: see bottom*) of fasting and prayer. Jesus, the Son of God, was a man of fasting and prayer (Matthew 4:2). So was the apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 11:27). Moses fasted 80 days. Elijah fasted 40 days. The early church fasted before starting any major work. The greatest spiritual leaders of the 20th century who are making an impact are all men of fasting of prayer to my knowledge. Anyone who started a significant spiritual movement in Christianity was, to the best of my knowledge - Luther, Wesley, Finney, Booth were all men of fasting. In our day, Cho, Bonnke, Osborn, Annacondia, are all men of much fasting. If done right, fasting counts a lot with God.
Fasting is not magic, nor does it twist the arm of God. God wants to do many amazing things, but He looks for those willing to urgently make the corrections needed to come into line with him. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6)
Successful fasting is also the fastest way to learn patience. It takes patience and endurance to fast for more than a day. Many of God's tests come quicker to us when we fast, and we have a better opportunity to pass them. If we want to go far with God we would have to face these tests anyway, but much later, and in a more time consuming and difficult way. We need to "bite the bullet" and embrace the correction God wants to apply to our souls.
Fasting gives you God's focus for your life. It is a major key to hearing God's voice (the other is true worship - the two are related). We need focus from God more than anything. The world we live in is working overtime to distract us, to entice us, to win our hearts and minds, our focus, and to determine our vision. Fasting cuts out the world so we can tune into God. If we are obedient to God, fasting will make us catalysts for revival and awakening.
Examples of Fasting and Prayer and the Purpose God Had in It
Ezra the priest fasted for God's protection while carrying valuable things for God's temple. We too can fast for God's protection. (Ezra 8:21-23)
Daniel the prophet fasted for the fulfillment of God's promises, and received mighty revelations from God. (Daniel 10:3).
Jesus fasted and spoke the Word of God to overcome Satan (See Matthew 4:1-10; Luke 4:1-13).
Jesus fasted to begin his public ministry, and have the power of God and the anointing. (Luke 4:14).
Elijah needed to fast 40 days before he heard God's voice again. (1 Kings 19:8)
Moses fasted to receive the Ten Commandments and the Law of God, and to see God's glory and goodness.
The elders, prophets and teachers in Antioch fasted and ministered to God, which resulted in the launching of Paul and Barnabas' apostolic ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 13:2,3). Likewise we should fast and pray before getting involved in full time ministry and mission work.
Jesus says to us in Matthew 6:16, "When you fast..." not ... "If you fast". A true disciple of the Lord will fast at times.
God made it clear through the prophet Joel that the last days outpouring of the Spirit will be in proportion to our fasting and crying out to God in humility, hunger and repentance. (See Joel 1:5; Joel 2:12).
Even wicked King Ahab's fast moved God so that he did not bring full judgment down on him in his own lifetime. (1 Kings 21:27).
The Pain of Fasting
Fasting is not easy. There are degrees of fasting, of course. The pain of fasting is twofold. The physical pain is due to the detoxification of our bodies. All the accumulated poison and garbage starts to come into our blood and we feel dreadful. This can be alleviated by fasting on juice. With juice fasting you have some control on the speed of your body's detoxification.
The soulish pain is due to the conflict in the spiritual realm between your flesh and the Spirit of God. This goes behind the natural desire to eat. There is soulish pain because:
1. Most times our bodies are demanding food three times a day and complain that food is needed when they are denied. A little training in fasting soon clears up this misconception.
2. You cannot use food as an emotional crutch to give pleasure, drowsiness, satisfaction and escape. Instead you must depend on God for comfort.
3. You are brought face to face with other painful issues in your life. God reveals the need for you to forgive others, to repent of your wicked ways, to stop running from Him and start trusting Him. There is thus also a spiritual and soulish detoxification which happens when we fast.
4. You will be attacked by demonic forces seeking to induce you to give up the fast. Jesus experienced this in the wilderness with Satan (Matthew 4:1-10). Great spiritual victories are won or lost on our willingness to endure spiritual hardship and temptation out of love and faithfulness to the Lord.
5. You will experience weakness at times, and we like to feel strong and in control. Fasting teaches us dependence upon God.
A number of people ask what you may or may not have during fasting. This depends of what God called you to do. It is normal to drink water during fasting. Never go without water more than three days. An easier fast which is more suitable for those who have other responsibilities which require energy is to drink only juice and water. Another way to fast is just to eat one meal per day for a number of days. All these fasts can have value. God will lead you.
You can get more information on the technical aspects of fasting at www.fasting.ws. Suffice for now to say that you SHOULD drink water and plenty of it when you fast. If you are working and unable to fast fully on water, you can drink juice or even have one meal a day, and these partial fasts do also have some value in subduing the flesh and bringing you closer to God.
Staff Note: Michael Fackerell has numerous insightful spiritual writings and inspiring testimonies on his website: www.christian-faith.com. I greatly encourage you to investigate it. It is filled with spiritual treasure!
(*) The Book of Esther reveals that fasting combined with prayer can change the course of an entire nation! Here is a quote from Derek Prince's anointed book on fasting that is very eye-opening:
A man named Haman had gained great political position and power in the Persian Empire. He persuaded the king to send forth a universal decree for the destruction of all the Jewish people within the confines of his empire on a certain day. This was probably the nearest that anybody has ever come to actually blotting out the Jewish nation -- in a sense, even nearer than Adolph Hitler in World War II. It was a crisis such as Israel had never faced in all their history. Their response to this crisis was to turn to God with fasting and prayer.
In particular, Queen Esther (who was Jewish though the king did not know her racial background), set an example which became a pattern for all subsequent generations of the power of prayer and fasting to bring forth intercession that changes history. This is the description in Esther 4:15-17:
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."
So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther's instructions.
The Jewish people knew what to do. It had been established in the ordinance of the Day of Atonement. They knew the way to humble themselves before God was to fast. All the Jews in the capital city of Susa, from Esther downwards, set aside three days of prayer and fasting. What was the result? In Esther 5:1-3, we read these words:
On the third day [of fasting and prayer] Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king's hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance.
When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.
Then the king asked, "What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you." -- Esther 5:1-3
Esther went in with her request and changed the entire course of the history of the Persian Empire. Instead of defeat and shame, the situation became honor and promotion for the Jewish people and for their leaders, Mordecai and Esther. The critical turning point was the three-day period when Esther and all the Jews in Susa fasted and sought God. Then their destiny was changed. When Esther went in to the king, he said, "What do you want? It will be given to you up to half the kingdom." In other words, prayer and fasting opened the way for all that Esther could possibly need on behalf of her people.
Esther is a beautiful pattern for us today. God is looking for men and women like Esther who realize the critical nature of our situation and turn to God with their fellow believers in prayer and fasting. Prayer and fasting can still call forth divine intervention on behalf of His people and the critical situation in the world today, just as much as it did in the days of Esther. God is urgently speaking to His people in these days about the need for prayer and fasting.
(You can obtain a copy of this anointed book on the power of, and need for, fasting by Derek Prince by ordering online: http://www.amazon.com/Fasting-Derek-Prince/dp/0883682583 Or ask for one at your local Christian Bookstore, if one is available to you. I cannot endorse this book enough, though what brother Michael has shared in this very short yet powerfully and wisely written writing above is "ammunition enough" for any believer to take this matter of fasting to God and see how God might want to speak to them about this incredible weapon (more powerful than all nuclear warheads combined; spiritually speaking!) God has given believers in Jesus Christ.)
I want to encourage you with this promise God gives us regarding fasting. Every time we fast, if we do it with humility, God will somehow reward us for it. What we are specifically fasting for may or may not be immediately realized, if ever realized, though it may ... yet the following promise God gives us is either a lie, or we can chose to believe it means exactly what it says:
"But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." -- Matthew 6:17-18 (NKJV)
As for myself, I refuse to give place to the devil in trying to subtly convince me my fasting will not be somehow rewarded by my heavenly Father. My mind has been made up. Thank you Holy Spirit!
This is probably as good a place as any on the Precious Testimonies website to make a statement for anyone wondering what I believe. I don't know what Michael believes about this matter at the moment, but that's between him and God anyway. If I never fast as a believer in Christ Jesus, is that a sin? I don't believe it is, when looking at the whole counsel of God's logos (written) Word. Matthew 6:16 is highly subject in my estimation in hanging one's entire belief that IF a Christian doesn't fast ever, they are sinning. To make that inference, I would need another confirming scripture somewhere in the New Covenant Word clearly commanding all believers in Christ to fast. It's not there. So anyone trying to somehow lay a guilt trip on you that you are sinning if you never fast, I say ... beware!
Yet I don't believe that's the end of the matter at all. God doesn't always just speak to us through His written, logos Word alone. He also speaks to us (when He determines it's important to speak to us about any given matter) by His rhema Word. A rhema Word from God is a specific spoken Word directly to a specific person God intends it for. And if God tells you specifically to fast, as He did in the Old Covenant for special occasions in most cases (cases of severe consequences in fact, if they didn't fast), and you choose to ignore God and refuse to fast, you have sinned against God. Anytime God tells us something specifically to do, however He communicates to us His will in the matter, and we refuse to obey, to US that is a sin. And ... a very potentially dangerous place to be in God, I might add, especially if we make it standard operating procedure in our relationship with God.
The question many keep having who have much revelation at all about how potent a weapon fasting can be for a believer in Christ: "Are some Christians tuning God out when it comes to fasting when He would like them to?" It's very easy to tune God's rhema voice out to us ... especially if we've made a life-long practice of it, and/or if we have one spiritual foot in God's Kingdom, and one spiritual foot in the Kingdom of selfish, fleshly, corrupted human intellect (the world's collective way of seeing things, in other words). I speak from GREAT personal experience, sad to say! I'm trying to do better in that department with God than I've done in the past, yet I know I'm nowhere near where God would like me to be, I'm quite sure. Can anyone identify? Lord - thank you so much for your compassionate mercy and grace. Please don't allow me to take undue advantage of it!
I also feel to make mention of one key truth regarding fasting and prayer. Prayer without faith can be very empty prayers, even when we are fasting. Nothing negates the crucial importance of putting as much trust as we can behind our requests to God. God honors faith! God has little to say in the New Testament about fasting, but He sure has a lot to say about praying in faith! God hears our prayers when we have no faith, thank goodness. However, God tends to respond to our prayers quicker more often than not when we trust Him to answer them. Never forget that, otherwise praying can be so discouraging.
Fasting has the potential of elevating our faith when nothing else will. Sometimes we simply need to fast to have our faith increased ... so our prayer life is more effective. Fasting - praying - believing ... they go hand in hand, complementing each other.
-- Norm Rasmussen, Director
Note: I feel to highly recommend going to the same website that brother Michael gave above: http://www.fasting.ws/ This site is jam-packed full of credible wisdom, knowledge and insight into the arena of fasting (which includes detoxing). If every person on this planet was aware of this website and wisely applied the knowledge given on it, most likely about 95% of all sicknesses and diseases would most likely eventually vanish from the face of the earth. Of course, that's not going to happen until the Lord returns, simply because there is so much financial greed giving misleading information by the supposed "authorities." Once your eyes become fully opened to just how much misinformation and disinformation (otherwise known as outright lies and deception) is being presented by our so-called "authorities" - you'll come to fully realize that those we trust the most to help us get healed and stay healthy in this world are never going to endorse a website like http://www.fasting.ws/ Why would that be? It would put about 99.999% of them out of business!
Another excellent writing on fasting and prayer: http://www.precious-testimonies.com/Exhortations/f-j/FastingAndPrayerBreakthrough.htm
Here is a very insightful and encouraging writing on prayer from Joyce Meyer: http://www.precious-testimonies.com/Exhortations/a-e/ExcitingPrayer.htm
A Special Message: http://www.precious-testimonies.com/Exhortations/f-j/HelpingShareTheMessageOfTheCross.htm