Matthew 17:14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” 20 And He *said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. 21 But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
16 I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.”
These were Jesus’ disciples, people who had been given authority, yet they could not see the breakthrough they needed. Why? They had become:
Unbelieving – Meaning you have doubt. Doubt is only one aspect of being in “unbelief”. There is a deeper meaning here. It literally means that you are not connected to me and my power. You have a connection problem.
Prayer is a reminder that we are to live by God’s reality. Our faith begins to fail when we forget what God says. Our faith is built by hearing what God says over our situations.
Perverted – This means you are too connected to the world. You are connected to some things that are polluting your relationship. It happens when the culture of the world becomes stronger in our lives than the culture of heaven.
Jesus tells his followers that you are disconnected from me and you are too connected to the world. This is why you are not seeing the breakthrough that you desire.
When you find something missing in your spiritual life it is usually because we have become unbelieving and perverted.
The Disciples were embarrassed…
19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” 21 But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Jesus says that to counter these two issues there are two solutions:
1. Prayer connects us to God.
Prayer solves the “unbelieving” part. Prayer connects us back to God. Prayer positions our faith to grow. When you hear what God says about your circumstances you are able to live with confidence.
We can all improve our prayer lives.
2. Fasting disconnects us from the world.
Fasting solves the perverted part. Fasting starves our bodies, minds and spirit from the culture of the world.
When you say ‘God I am replacing this meal (which is a reminder of the world) with time with you’, we are pronouncing our dependence on God.
The goal of fasting is to disconnect us from the world and to draw us nearer to God.
Biblical fasting always has to do with eliminating distractions for a spiritual purpose; it hits the reset button of our soul and renews us from the inside out!
The discipline of fasting releases the anointing, the favor, and the blessing of God in our life.
This discipline is intensified at the beginning of the year. When you give God your ‘first’ through fasting, prayer and giving at the beginning of the year, you set the course for the entire year.
In Matthew 6:16, when talking about fasting, Jesus begins, “When you fast…” Notice that he doesn’t say, “If you fast…”
Jesus knew that if we were going to be disconnected from the world and connected to his kingdom fasting was essential.
Fasting is one of the most neglected spiritual disciplines. In fact, it has been ignored for so long that it is difficult to find information on the “how-to’s” of this life-changing experience.
I want to give you 5 Things You Need To Know Before You Fast.
1. Know what a fast is.
Let’s begin with things fasting is not:
Not a diet. Fasting is not merely going without food for a period of time. That is starving – maybe even dieting. Removing food without adding a spiritual component will result in a shrinking waist and faith.
Not starving for attention. Fasting does not put a gun to God’s head. Fasting never manipulates God. Even if we wanted to, we could not. Fasting does not make God do something that is not his will.
Fasting gets you ready to receive God’s will. We fast and pray for results, but the results are in God’s hands.
Not self-mutilation. Our pain does not pleasure God and He gets no glory from watching us damage our bodies. Our body is His temple, He expects us to maintain it.
Not only for crisis moments. Fasting is not only a reaction to a need. It is a discipline needed to advance to a new level of relationship with God.
Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the “first love” for your Lord and will result in a more intimate relationship with Christ.
What is fasting?
Simply stated, biblical fasting is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose.
It’s not about what we lose in food, but about what we gain in God. It’s a discipline of abstaining from something good, like food, that helps us concentrate on our spiritual lives and our satisfaction in Him.
2. Know the fast that is right for you.
There is no real “formula” that I can give you to help you determine which type or length of fast is right for you.
Fasting is about the condition of the heart, not the number of days.
What you fast, and how long you fast is between you and God. It is a decision made in your prayer time with God.
TYPES OF FASTS
This fast calls for drinking only liquids, typically water with light juices as an option. You can choose the number of days. Most common examples in scripture are 1, 3, 7, 21, and 40.
The Daniel Fast
Daniel 1:12“Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.”
Daniel 10:3 “I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”
- Eat no meat, no sweets and no bread.
- Drink water and juice.
- Eat fruits and vegetables.
Notice this was about disconnecting from the world Daniel lived in:
- The king’s food was against dietary laws.
- Daniel and his friends had vowed against wine.
- The king’s food had been offered up to idols/demons.
My only warning about this fast is that is can quickly become a ‘law’ in our lives. Do not spend so much time obsessing over the ‘rules’ that you abandon the relationship.
A partial fast is from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm or from sun up to sundown. You can select from three types of fasting —a Full Fast, Daniel Fast or give up at least one item of food.
3. Know why you are fasting.
If you lose your ‘why’ you lose your way.
Biblical Fasts: These fasts show us some targets!
The Disciples Fast: A fast that frees you from addictions and besetting sins.
The Ezra Fast: A fast for problem solving. Ezra was part of the team that had to help restore a nation. They had many issues from practical to spiritual enemies. Ezra called a fast to gain insight and for God to intervene.
The Samuel Fast: A fast for a national revival. When the Philistines were preparing to attack Israel, Samuel declared a fast for national revival that God would return His presence to the nation.
The Elijah Fast: A fast that breaks negative emotional feelings and habits. When Jezebel sent word that she wanted to kill Elijah, he became so depressed and suicidal that an angel was sent to him to instruct him. In this journey, he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights for deliverance.
The Widow’s Fast: A fast for meeting the humanitarian needs of other people. In 1 Kings 17 we read the vivid story about a woman with very little who helped Elijah. She made a choice to fast the very little food she had, so that someone else could eat.
The Paul Fast: A fast for major life decisions. In Acts we see that Saul was going the wrong way in life, but on his way to Damascus he was without sight, food, or water for three days. He fasted for God’s divine direction.
The Daniel Fast: A fast that yields health and healing. Daniel and three other men refused to eat the king’s meat, sweets, and bread and they were actually healthier.
The John the Baptist Fast: A fast to have a greater influence on others and to be set apart for ministry. John fasted or removed certain things from his life; because he did this he had a greater testimony and influence on the lives of the people in his generation that any other man.
The Esther Fast: A fast providing protection against danger. Esther needed God’s protection when Haman wanted Esther’s help in destroying her family. She declared a three-day fast that ended in safety for herself and her family.
Remember why YOU are fasting. Don’t join one for peer pressure reasons. Corporate fasts are powerful but if you have your eyes on the people around you it means you do not have your eyes on God.
Prayerfully ask God to confirm a reason or Prayerfully respond to his calling. Write it down. Visit your ‘why’ every day. (This gives an opportunity to watch God work too)
Go over the Fasting Covenant. Most people who do not succeed in fasting and prayer is because of a lack of commitment. Today, if you have not decided what you are going to do…decide today and commit. Hold yourself accountable.
There are some things that I want God to do in 2019 that are more important than food.
4. Know your plan. (Nothing secures success like a proper plan)
Receiving God’s best blessing from a fast requires solid commitment.
Arranging special time each day with God is absolutely crucial in attaining intimate communion with the Father.
You must devote yourself to seeking God’s face, even (and especially) during those times in which you feel weak, vulnerable, or irritable. Read His Word and pray during what were mealtimes.
Don’t allow your ‘public life’ to pull you away from success.
Matthew 6:16-18 “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
Even in a corporate time of fasting it is a private experience. This passage reminds us to not allow the public distractions to pull away from our focus.
Consider your Schedule.
Know your 21 Days (What meetings, appointments, family functions do you have coming?)
For maximum spiritual benefit, set aside ample time to be alone with the Lord. The more time you spend with Him, the more meaningful your fast will be.
- Begin your day in praise and worship.
- Read and meditate on God’s Word.
- Pray for inner strength, conviction and growth.
- Read a book or dedicate time to memorize scripture.
- Take a short prayer walk.
- Invite God to use you. Ask Him to show you how to influence your world, your family, your church, your community, your country, and beyond.
- Listen to a sermon or teaching.
- Meditate on what God is saying.
- Finish your night in worship.
Too often we buy all the Daniel Fast ingredients to prepare but we forget to prepare spiritually. In the same way you reorder your fridge you must reorder your spirit.
- Declare your dependence on God.
- Ask for forgiveness. (We have spent, fought and ate too much in Dec. Jan. is time for a reset)
- Refocus on the eternal.
- Believe God to answer some specific needs.
- Make a verbal commitment to the Lord in prayer.
Write out your guidelines.
This will keep you from renegotiating when you ‘feel’ like it. We all become excellent lawyers when we are in the middle of a fast, we work to get ourselves off the hook.
5. Know what to expect.
When you fast your body detoxifies. This can cause physical discomforts, especially on the second day. You may have fleeting hunger pains or dizziness. A lack of caffeine and sugar may cause headaches. (No, the devil did not cause the headaches, the devil’s food cake did)
The first two or three days are usually the hardest. As you continue to fast, you will likely experience a sense of well being both physically and spiritually. However, should you feel hunger pains, increase your liquid intake.
Prepare yourself for temporary mental discomforts; such as impatience, crankiness, and anxiety.
Speak to you doctor before beginning your fast.
Limit your activity.
Exercise only moderately.
Rest as much as your schedule will permit.
Remember you should be feeding the spirit, not sitting in a miserable state.
Expect Results Spiritually
As you enter this time of heightened spiritual devotion, be aware that Satan will do everything he can to pull you away from your prayer and Bible reading time.
When you feel the enemy trying to discourage you, immediately go to God in prayer and ask Him to strengthen your resolve in the face of temptations.