Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fasting: What's it all about

Well folks, I survived. Hubby did too. I'm talking about our 10-day Daniel fast. We, along with our church family, went on a fast to seek a deeper walk with God and to be prepared for whatever He has in store for us in 2012. The fast came to an end yesterday, culminating in one of the most amazing prayer services I've ever been part of. Here is a picture of the service last night, with Pastor Joe Champion of Celebration Church leading us in an outline of ten prayer promises from Leviticus 26:1-3: Provision, Purpose, Peace, Protection, Productivity, Permanence, Possibilities, Presence, Partnership and Power. It was a great night of intense worship, with arms and faces lifted toward heaven, followed by communion. Really, really beautiful. I am ready to see God move in our lives!!

Fasting is an age-old practice. In Leviticus 16:29-31 God institutes the Day of Atonement fast, which he calls a "lasting ordinance." It was a time of denial so God could cleanse Israel from sin. It became known as "the Fast" (Acts 27:9) and Jews today call it "Yom Kippur." They observe it by fasting for a 25-hour period, with intense prayer and often spending the day in the synagogue. The Bible records people like Moses, Elijah, Daniel, David and Paul fasting. The most famous fast is that of Jesus when he spent 40 days in the desert without food, being tempted by the devil. The fact that Jesus himself fasted tells me how important the act of denying oneself is in God's eyes. Clearly, fasting is something believers are supposed to do.

Although the Day of Atonement is the only fast actually called for by God, people have always fasted for a lot of different reasons. It was done in groups (Judges 20:26, 1 Samuel 7:6, Acts 13:1-3, Acts 14:21-23) or by individuals. It was done in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Jesus, however, made it perfectly clear in Matthew 6:16-18 that fasting was not to be a religious ritual. When a person felt led to fast, they weren't supposed to make it about themselves by telling everyone they're fasting or making it obvious, but rather it was to be done "in secret." He says the same thing about prayer in Matthew 6:5-8. I told you about my fast because it was a church-wide fast. Actually, it was a world-wide fast in association with People all over the world are seeking God through fasting and I wanted to share that with you. Not to brag on myself or even on my church, but because something really great is going on in the lives of the Body of Christ. But let me be clear: If I felt God ask me to do a fast privately, I would absolutely keep it private. Just between me and God. I wouldn't even tell my husband unless he specifically asked about it. Even when fasting with a group it's the private one-on-one time spent with God that really makes the difference.

The bottom line is this: Fasting is God-ordained. Fasting is God-blessed. If done by a person or a group of people with pure hearts seeking God, He absolutely will look down upon them with pleasure, favor and blessings.

This week's Prayer Shout-Out countries are:
USA, United Kingdom, Sweden, Russia, Poland

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