THE AWESOME BENEFITS OF FASTING
(By: Norm Rasmussen)
The devil does not want you or I fasting unto God - period - ever! Anyone thinking about fasting unto God is a serious potential threat to Satan's dominion on this planet.
One person willing to add fasting to their prayers and trust have the potential to do untold harm to Satan's operations on this planet, because these three weapons the Holy Spirit has given the Body of Christ can release the power of God upon this earth and into situations like nothing else can that God has given to the Body of Christ. (Of course, the impartation of the Holy Spirit and proper usage of the Word of God and God's specific will in each matter is also included in this).
Once the devil observes a person interested in being the most effective vessel for God they can be in hindering Satan's influence over the affairs of mankind and showing great interest in combining fasting with prayer and trust, he has certain strategies he will try to implement to hinder that's person's progress in moving forward.
Here is one of his most common tactics he employs to keep one from moving forward in being more skilled to use the weapon of fasting: A sense of being nearly overwhelmed.
"I can't fast; God is asking too much of me. Demands on my life right now don't allow me to fast. Health issues won't allow it; my doctor doesn't want me to either." The list can go on and on...
There may be very legitimate reasons for one not fasting, but I can assure you the devil does not want you thinking about fasting in little bite-size, manageable portions.
God has more wisdom than what we often give Him credit for when a feeling of being, nearly overwhelmed, descends upon us; and to counter it, He tells us very clearly in His Word to live our life ONE DAY AT A TIME.
Not two days at a time; not a week at a time; not months and years at a time. One day at a time. God didn't make us to function best living beyond one day at a time. We operate at our very best by living out our lives, one day at time.
Establishing that fact, it can become extremely overwhelming to hear a Pastor call your church to a 1-day fast, a 3-day fast, -- or say a 7-day fast, or even much longer. Immediately our flesh is programmed to trigger thoughts of near panic which can also result in low-level anger at a moment like that. (Anger as in: "Let's fire the Pastor!")
Here is something the Holy Spirit has for us to counter such feelings of panic and a sense of being overwhelmed when we even hear the word 'fasting' mentioned: 'Consider a meal at a time. Consider at the LONGEST, one day at a time. Not two days. Certainly not longer.'
God drops hints to us throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament about the wisdom of living our lives one day at a time. Just a couple examples:
When the Jewish people were led out of Egypt to enter into the promise land, God provided manna from heaven for their food source. Observe that He never gave them manna for more than one day that stayed fresh. Each and every day, He provided fresh manna just for that day. He was ingraining a wisdom in doing it that way. One day at a time will enable us to operate at peak spiritual and emotional efficiency in our relationship with God and each other.
When the disciples asked Jesus how they could pray more effectively, observe the answer the Holy Spirit gave through Jesus: "Give us this day our daily bread." Jesus didn't instruct them nor you or I to pray to God about Him providing bread for tomorrow or longer,just for today. Physical bread; spiritual bread; we need both, don't we?
Living our lives in our minds,one day at a time, keeps us operating at peak efficiency in every area of our life. There will be ample grace from God for me to live my life as God determines today. God most certainly will give me grace for tomorrow, when tomorrow comes, but tomorrow's grace will not help me today. God's maximized grace comes for just this day. If I live on this planet long enough to see tomorrow come, God's maximized grace will be given me to live tomorrow's day.
So truly it can be said ' tomorrow's grace for tomorrow will do absolutely nothing to help me operate at peak efficiency today. God is simply trying to get us to constantly realize, today is the most important day we have to operate at peak efficiency, the rest of our lives. We'll have plenty of evil opposition tomorrow to have to deal with, rest assured. Prepare yourself to deal with ' to resist - today's evil. Otherwise it can be 'near overwhelming.
[Important note here: Not throwing out the "baby with the bath water" needs to be taken into account regarding living "one day at a time." Most certainly it is appropriate to make certain wise decisions that might well affect our future if we don't make those decisions. Financial investments falls into such a category. Career plans; marriage; children; other matters ... certainly it is wise to plan ahead for certain things. However ... I believe the main thing God wants us to understand regarding living our life one day at a time is that we can come under unnecessary stress and worry and even fear that accomplishes absolutely nothing in terms of adding any quality to our life. Making wise plans for the future is simply wise; God wants us doing such things; but God also wants us realizing that every plan we might make for the future may never be realized, for any number of unpredictable reasons. Planning our retirement twenty - fifty - years from now can be wise ... but simply assuming we'll live to see that day is not necessary wise at all. God may desire to take us home while we sleep tonight. We have absolutely zero control over whether we will wake up to another day on this planet come tomorrow morning. God and God alone determines if that is going to happen].
People who have the grace to fast 40 days arrived at that place by learning how to fast 4 minutes a day. Once they conquered being able to fast 4 minutes a day, the Holy Spirit nudged them to start trying 40 minutes a day, when the time seemed right. Once they realized it didn't kill them to fast 40 minutes a day, the Holy Spirit nudged them to consider fasting 400 minutes a day. Do you comprehend the principal? Small victory by small victory. Small victory to a little larger victory. Confidence building. Peace building. Faith building. Allowing the Holy Spirit to move us from "basic training" to more "advanced training."
People who have conquered feelings of panic and being overwhelmed when it comes to pain-free fasting have arrived at that place by allowing the Holy Spirit to help them build a sure and steady foundation. That foundation was built slowly over time, in small 'bite-size chunks,' not trying to devour half the side of a beef in one setting. One brick at a time; not thousands and thousands of bricks stacked side by side and on top of each other without making certain the mortar is holding each brick securely in place. The "mortar" holding our prayer and fasting foundation securely in place to weather every storm that comes our way is insured and secured by making certain the proper 'Holy Spirit mortar' was allowed to be properly mixed, properly applied, and allowed to 'set up properly' before adding any more 'spiritual bricks' in our "spiritual foundation."
You may have not been taught this about the three pigs and the bad wolf when you were young. A house made of straw is not necessarily a house less sturdy and secure than a house made of bricks, if the house of bricks was not properly 'mortared.' A house made of straw with the right 'mortar ingredients properly and wisely applied' will allow a person to make a house or a skyscraper or even an airplane that will withstand storms the brick house not properly 'mortared' can withstand.
Coming to a place where you can fast one meal a day is an absolute HUGE victory, especially if instead of spending the half an hour you would normally take to eat that meal, you use that half-hour block and give God your time in prayer and/or immersion into God's Word, or perhaps simply praising Him. Giving up a meal is a HUGE victory, but using that time block to sow into God, God's Kingdom, God's righteousness is even a GREATER potential victory!
Recently (at the time of this writing: January 1, 2008) God showered me with enough grace to do a juice fast for 21 days. It's a first for me! I normally would keep such a thing to myself, simply because I do NOT want to be unwise in causing the Father to withhold any potential reward He might be willing to give me for making it 21 days without food.
In times past when I did any form of fasting, I always set a goal to reach. I determined I would try to fast a specific number of days before even starting. It just seemed to make 'sense' to me, what with all the information there is around us about the wisdom and value of 'goal setting.' Well, this time the Holy Spirit introduced me to a radical new way of approaching fasting: 'Why not just commit to fasting one day at a time ' and see how it goes for you?'
Dear reader, it was the easiest fast I've ever done! Knowing how much food has been my idol (confession time). I am absolutely stunned that I was able to log in 21 days without breaking down and having some food. (Not to say there weren't some times of strong temptation however). All glory to God here, folks, but this was accomplished over the Christmas season (2007) as well. You know, you meet with your family and friends you haven't been able to connect with since last Christmas: Everyone brings lots of goodies, lots of delicious Holiday munchies, turkey dinner out of the hot oven filling every nook and cranny of the house with its enticing fragrance; mile-high mound of mashed potatoes smothered with succulent turkey gravy; frozen corn and peas smothered with bucketfuls of hot butter; bread rolls so soft they dissolve in your mouth before they even hit the bottom of the tummy ... get the picture?
And so you sit there watching all that delicious food being devoured by everyone else, and you sit there with a smile on your face, sipping your liquid manna called water, while most are thinking you are absolutely nuts! Yep, I went through that very thing this Christmas, and I am absolutely amazed to end the day thinking to myself: That was really quite easy to pass up. Folk, that is the grace of God for the situation, and absolutely nothing else! If you never believe another word I ever write, please believe me when I say that probably the very best meal of the year for me is when family meets and we dive into the delicious Christmas meal. To give that up is nothing short of a miracle for yours truly.
Yet it happened ONLY by God's grace for me to say 'No' to it this past Christmas. And HOW did that grace get released for the situation? By my taking God's advice and breaking it all down into 'bite-size chunks.' One day at a time; one meal at a time 'chunks.'
God was prompting me to go on a fast. I knew that. When I asked Him how many days I should fast for this time, He would only tell me, 'One day at a time. One meal at a time. When the grace runs out, end the fast. Seek me daily for fresh grace just for that day.' Grace ran out approximately three minutes after the 21st day. I was fully aware three minutes prior to the stroke of midnight it was going to!
I'm going out on a limb here, certainly not to boast in any way, because that is exactly what the devil would delight in my doing. I feel it's okay with God to say this, so I will. Up until this recent fast, considering going on a 40-day fast (or longer) would simply have been out of the question for me. Too extreme for ME!' That would have been my response, though of course I would never admit it. I mean, after all, I want people thinking I'm very 'spiritual,' right?'
But after experiencing God giving me sufficient grace for going without food for 21 days and living only on quality vegetable and fruit juices along with water (mostly flavored by decaff coffee with just enough regular coffee mixed with it to keep from going through caffeine withdrawals this time) in the early morning, I would not feel overwhelmed at all if I sensed the Holy Spirit may desire I fast for longer than 21 days in the future. My 'secret' to be willing to do so would simply take it one meal at a time - one day at a time. I will never go back to goal setting in terms of days to fast before even going into the fast (unless God would specifically ask me to, of course, though I doubt that He would). Knowing how much I love food, God knows and my flesh knows and the devil full well knows that I can only be trusted to commit to fasting one day at a time. Am I being stubborn? Rebellious? I don't believe so. I believe I'm being wiser than I have been in the past. That's the grace I'm walking in today. You may have grace to see it a different way. It's okay if we view it differently. Whatever helps to get past our resistance to fasting and praying for right reasons, that is what is most important.
However - seasoned prayer warriors understand the issue of 'breakthrough.' Patiently and persistently praying until the Holy Spirit clearly gives a release that the matter has been settled in the unseen realm. God's people who are able to utilize the weapon of fasting along with prayer (when the weapon is called for), also understand that yes, God gives grace to fast one day at a time, but He also will give grace to fast long enough until breakthrough in the spirit dimension is accomplished.
What God has revealed to us in the Old Testament regarding fasting was always for a specific purpose. A goal was to be realized. A victory needed to be attained. God's purpose needed to be implemented. A promise needed to be fulfilled. Thus the understanding was that either one or more people simply refused to quit the fast until either God clearly told them to stop fasting and/or praying about the specific issue at hand, OR clear, physically manifested proof that the victory had been attained was revealed to those doing the fasting and praying.
Nowhere in the New Testament do we see that principle or purpose altered. The Holy Spirit led Jesus early on to go into the desert to be more fully equipped to battle demonic powers once Jesus' ministry was to move into full swing. The Holy Spirit was assigned by the Father to lead Jesus into the wilderness to fast 40 days for the explicit purpose of being more fully equipped to stay victorious each day at a time for the next 3 years of His earthly ministry. Few of us fully know just how much God may want to use us to combat Satan's influence on this planet before we are taken home to heaven. Do not assume God might not call you to a 40 day fast or longer, sometime later on in your life for the identical purpose of teaching us 'advanced spiritual warfare tactics' in helping execute His will upon this planet.
Fast forward earth's time clock:
Whoever you are reading this right now, you might be at the time period where the 'mark of the beast' is getting implemented across this world. You know full well you need to make a choice very soon about whether to take the mark to 'survive,' or not take the mark and risk 'dying' which will then most likely mean imprisonment, torture, starvation, and possibly even being killed. Are you aware that God has the ability to 'translate' you to parts of this world and you may not have a dime to your name to afford the fuel to drive there, let alone the means to get a passport in time. Why might God want to 'translate' you to some remote part of the world? Have you considered that He might have some yummy food and protection waiting for you there? Maybe someone He wants you to pray for; to maybe even witness to and lead to the Lord?
Fasting puts us more dependent on God than what our flesh is comfortable with. We both know that our flesh has zero power to enable us to 'translate,' should we believe it would be desirable at a moment of possible crisis. Fasting has the potential to silence our flesh more than any other weapon God has given us, and silencing our flesh is God's way of helping us walk more fully and effectively 'in the Spirit.' The wise soldier of God does not remain staying content indefinitely to constantly come up with reasons never to fast. The wise child of God realizes that every weapon God has given His Church is to be both appreciated and used when the situation calls for it.
No condemnation here. No guilt trips. Just be fully informed that when prayer and trust seems to keep falling short, there is the weapon of fasting. It's a spiritual nuclear warhead. It can destroy demonic strongholds when nothing else seems to be working. It can destroy Satan's plans very easily, when God calls His people to use this weapon. The reality of it, however, is how many of us fully are persuaded it really is such a potent weapon, and even if we do realize just how potent a weapon it really IS, how many of us are willing to learn how to wisely use it, when requested to do so by the Commander in Chief of the universe?
Yep, God was right. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. When it comes to being engaged and staying engaged in fighting demonic forces and overcoming our rebellious flesh, it is ONLY by the grace of God that we can remain in the battle, isn't it?
Oh, and yes, waging that battle one day at a time.
To read the final conclusion of this topic, click on THE AWESOME BENEFITS OF FASTING (Part 4)
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