In my last message I spoke out of Matthew 17:21, and Daniel 10, and with just a brief overview, I spoke that the Lord is moving me to fast regularly which came out of my reading of Matthew 17, which led to speak about the prophet Daniel, and his time of fasting before the Lord in prayer and his encounter with an Angel.
Looking at Daniel 10 again we read that God hears our prayers,
Daniel 10:12, “for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard,”
And when God hears those prayers, He shifts the heavens to answer those prayers, and it is upon us to persevere in faith and have patience in that faith that God will answer what we pray for. The Holy Spirit moves us as to what to intercede for and we must respond to His voice to move the heavens with our prayers and the power of fasting.
Daniel responded to a revelation, a dream to him, and through his prayers and fasting a stronghold was moved, and he received even more revelation of things to come.
So I would like to continue to speak on prayer and fasting tonight, not only because of the power of it to remove strongholds, but what it does to our lives.
2. WHY FAST?
I question everything, I want to know the reason, so a question for me, was why fast? I grew up in the church and did not know anyone who fasted when I was young; it wasn’t taught. I had read about it, but it wasn’t until the early 80’s when a church I attended went on a 40 day fast did I see the affects. The affect was a move of God on the church. Now I have fasted here and there over the years, but not until I was an older adult did I do it regularly at some points. And I will be truthful with you, I have not been consistent, and the Lord has been prompting me to get back on a schedule.
I am not sure if any of you have fasted before, but knowing many of you, you probably have.
But the first thing I think of when I read the scripture, especially in the New Testament is that Jesus fasted. I know we can look back in the Old Testament at others, like Daniel, but Jesus is our primary example today about the Christian life. He showed us the power of it, but when it comes down to it, we know from Jesus that God loves when we fast.
When we pray and fast as spoken of in Matthew 6, God delights that we do it. And Jesus said,
Matthew 6:17-18, “When you fast…your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
Jesus said that God would reward fasting, because it is important to Him. Jesus called us to fast because He knew that when we did it, we would see the rewards that come from doing it.
When Daniel fasted and prayed 21 days as the Spirit of God led him, he received his answer. He saw that his prayers broke an Angel free from a satanic presence, the Prince of Persia, because God sent the Angel Michael to intervene. Daniel’s prayer and fasting brought intervention. Daniel saw that the reward of fasting and lamenting in prayer outweighed the difficulty of doing it. A stronghold was broken; Daniel received a future revelation, and had an Angelic appearance.
I believe a reward we receive from God is the knowledge that our prayer and fasting has impact in the physical realm, as well as the spiritual. We see it, and sense it in the Holy Spirit.
Also we find that we receive power from God because of our intentionality to persevere in the Spirit to see something through. But probably the largest reward is how our hearts encounter Him in those times of intimacy when we are locked away in prayer.
That is why you have people who have been fasting regularly for years. They can’t wait for the encounter, because through the encounter comes ecstatic revelation of God in us, and us seeing that through Him we can move heaven to earth. When we say to the mountain to be moved. It is moved just like Jesus said in Mark 11:23.
Another thing we receive is grace from God during a fast. Because during the time of the fast, our eyes are firmly focused on God, and during those times, we are receiving revelation and knowledge about God and His purposes.
2 Peter 1:2, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”
If you have ever fasted, grace and peace comes on you, and usually for me after day 3. The other days I am thinking about my stomach. Cutting yourself off of a need your body wants is tough. It not only affects your physical being, but also affects our minds. Our focus.
And because of that, I believe many fear fasting. However, the fear of fasting is worse than fasting itself. We fear it because we don’t like to be uncomfortable, and the thought that it might affect our lifestyle.
It is a lie that the demands of our modern pace of life make fasting impractical for today’s Christian. I know pastors, as well as regular attendees who have fasted no food, just water for 40 days, and worked regular jobs and were sustained by God during that time. I know individuals who were diabetics, went to their doctors and told them what they were doing, and were monitored by the doctors the whole time with no ill effects. God showing His grace to our physical being. He gives us strength.
But why fast?
Just look at Isaiah 58. Fasting humbles us.
Isaiah 58:5, God says, “Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?”
I put that verse first because I believe when you fast, it brings you to a place where you are physically and spiritually humbled before God. We deny our flesh to get to that connection with the Spirit with God. We get to a point where our fleshly and mental desires are silenced, and it brings every part of our being in focus to God.
As we persevere in focused faith, our will is broken down before the Father, and we can hear him in a profound way. I saw that my awareness of the Spirit was heightened, and my senses were very keen. It is kind of hard to explain, but I knew that I was strongly connected into the presence of God.
Jesus fasted for 40 days and was weak in flesh. He was hungry states the Word. He was a man, so his physical struggles were the same. He overcame them, and showed us we could too. Jesus was also our example of having a struggle with Satan, when we are physically weak. He was no different than us.
The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, and sustained Him during the fast, is here to sustain us too. Not only physically, but spiritually. The Holy Spirit in us is our strength and gives us the power to overcome. Even when we are tempted to throw in the towel when Satan attacks us. We speak the same Words of Jesus to silence the enemy.
From Isaiah 58, humility isn’t always easy. In this age it is hard to deny the flesh. Everything this world wants to offer is about the satisfaction of the flesh; what goes in it, as well as what goes on it.
Humility in this case is intertwined with repentance. Denying actions and thought patterns that keep us from the knowledge of God and His Presence. God’s Presence is not going to manifest where sin abounds.
Humility with repentance brings us into a position to be in God’s presence to hear Him, and also bring us into a place where He hears us.
Daniel 10:12, “You set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God…”
Daniel, who was Godly by all accounts, still put himself in a position of humility before the Lord.
2 Chronicles 7:14,” if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven.”
We lay our lives down in humility, only to be raised up by God again in His will.
So after we are in a place of humility, and in a place where God has our total attention, what does He do with our fast?
And when I say fast, prayer is always included in it. Fasting without prayer is just like being on a diet. But back to Isaiah 58.
Isaiah 58:6, states, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?”
From this verse, fasting has incredible impact. Looses the bonds of wickedness?
So in these verses God is saying that if we fast for the City of Kenosha, He will loose the grip of the worldly sinful nature over it? Undo the straps of the yolk? Or loose the bondage over the city. The stronghold? Yes, that is what He is saying.
In Isaiah, God was speaking of the whole nation of Israel to set the oppressed free. For us it may be over a person, group of people, a neighborhood, a city, or more. Maybe it is to loose something over us individually.
God said, “to break every yolk.” So God says in Isaiah, that if we do His fast, ALL bonds are broken. But, it takes the people of God to humble themselves and fast with prayer to move God to do what He wants to do to set His creation free.
The loosing is all on our backs. Today the Church, the body of Christ are the people who have been marked by God to speak forth His promises to break every yolk. So God’s promise is in:
Isa 58:9-11, “Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
God will satisfy our desire. He will make us strong. He will fill us with a fresh anointing, living waters that do not fail.
Which leads me to some other outcomes from our humility in fasting. I made a short list.
We see the fulfillment of God’s promises: Daniel prayed and fasted for the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel (Dan. 9:1-3; 10:1-4).
In the Book of Acts chapter 10, Cornelius the centurion fasted and prayed, and his whole house was saved and a door of grace was opened to the Gentiles (Acts 10:1-4, 30-31).
Intervention into times of crisis: Fasting to seek God for mercy during a personal or larger crisis is biblical.
Hannah, the Prophet Samuel’s mother, distressed by her barrenness, prayed and fasted, and God answered her and gave her a son. 1 Samuel 1.
Jonah warned the wicked city of Nineveh that God was going to destroy them. Nineveh repented with fasting and God spared the city. Jonah 3:3-9.
God delivered King Jehoshaphat, King of Judah in a military crisis. 2 Chronicles 20.
We will see a great release of God’s power: We pray for God’s power to bring healing to people. When the disciples could not set a demonized boy free, Jesus told them that that kind of demon did not go out except by prayer and fasting. Matthew 17:21. That was from a couple weeks ago.
We will see an open heaven: Prayer and fasting releases Spiritual power and intervention into personal, Local, national, and global situations. God gave me a vision of a stronghold over a city that looked like a dome with portals. I spoke to God and asked how do I explain that? He then gave me a vision of a dam. Water from a large dam is allowed to flow through restricted spillways. God wants to break the dam for a free flow of His Spirit, or remove the dome so there will be an open heaven for an unrestricted outpouring of His Holy Spirit.
We will receive supernatural direction. We will receive direction for our personal life, our family, and the ministry we have been called to inside the church or outside.
Act 13:2-3, “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”
The sending off per say, may be to be a light in your neighborhood.
We encounter the love of God. This may be the last item, but I believe the most important. In Matthew chapter 9:14-15, the disciples of John the Baptist asked Jesus why His disciples didn’t fast like they did and the Pharisees?
Jesus said in the Bradley paraphrased version, “Can my friends mourn as long as I am with them? The days will come when I am gone, and then they will fast.”
Why would they fast? To encounter Him again.
We may fast for a purpose, to loose something, but we fast just to get into His Presence. We should fast for no other motivation than to get closer to Him, and that alone, we would be like His Disciples enjoying His presence, feeling loved by Him, and rejoicing in the relationship they had with Him.
When Jesus went to be with the Father, fasting took on a whole new dimension. The Holy Spirit in us revealed to us the depths of God.
1 Corinthians 2:10-12, “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” 11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.
When we fast, God changes our desires and increases our desire for Him. Once we taste the nearness of God’s presence, we cannot live without more of Him. Then our spiritual capacity to receive Him increases. Through the Holy Spirit, we receive greater revelation, and for me it was at a more accelerated pace, because of my focus. This causes greater impact. I felt the grace of God on me, which caused me to be real thankful that He God would shine down on me and I felt a sense of worthiness. That worthiness causes peace, and a knowledge that I am in the middle of God’s will.
God wants that for all of us. But it takes us to humble ourselves to get there. That can be the hard part.
With saying all this, I am asking if you would join me in a fast. A 21 day fast beginning February 6th. If you would like to fast with me, you can pray for God’s leading you to fast for, but corporately, I would like to fast:
“to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke” over Kenosha.
Praying for the city government, businesses, the schools, churches, and the community at large.
Fasting for the growth of this church, and continue to have open doors for the purpose this church was called to do in the region.
I am calling the month of February, the month of Violence.
Matthew 11:12,”From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.”
The Furnace is going to forcibly be fasting and praying for Kenosha, and the Church to bring violence into the darkness. The violence will be stark bright light of Jesus. Light that pierces the darkness. The fight will come out of our prayer closets humbly praying before our God to move heaven into the earth and this city. I hope you will join me.