What is the purpose of fasting? Why do we do it? What can we hope to accomplish?
Have you ever gone through a fast. Did you accomplished anything? Did you break strong holds? What were you really trying to do? I ask, does fasting change God. Can we manipulate Him into doing something for us?
I believe it does several things. Just from a natural stand point it helps us to keep our flesh under subjection to our spirit.
1Cor:9:27: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
The real Paul, Paulís spirit, was talking about his flesh. He said I keep my body under. This body is not the real me. We have got to realize who the real us is!
Does God require us to fast?
Isaiah 58:5. Is it a fast that I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 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 extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
First, God asks a question; Is it a fast that I have chosen?
then He answers it vs. 6. Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? In other words Is God requiring hunger? Does self abasement please God? That is not the final goal or purpose of this fast. Just to rip your clothes and throw ashes in the air.
Couple of points.
This fast is a required fast. Why is God requiring this fast? God had a definite purpose in mind at the very start of it all. Not because He wants to see us hungry, but because He wants to see us restored and to restore others. We can't do that if we are not first restored ourselves. Can we?
How does fasting accomplish this? Good question ?
Look back at Isaiah 58. Ö. God is asking the question, is this the kind of fast I am requiring of you.
Our works donít impress God. Faith impresses God. Nothing else!!!
We have to go to Him on His terms, we arenít going to cajole God into something just because of our actions. We sometimes thing well God if I do this then I want you to that. He wonít be coned into something. Without faith it is impossible to please Him.
If you are trying to please Him with works you will fail. Itís just not Scriptural.
Rom:4:2: For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
We sometimes think there is some formula, and all we have to do is push the right buttons and then God moves. No it doesnít work that way.
There are Godly principles here. Sowing and reaping, we canít reap until we sow. This puts us in a place where we can be a receiver. You have to give first in order to be a receiver. We can't harvest until we have planted. You see that God is requiring this. Why? So He can get us in a place where we can receive from Him. If we are not receiving from Him, then it means we have to put ourselves into a place where we can receive from Him.
James wasnít specifically talking about fasting, but He was talking about submission. Ja.4:7. That is certainly part of the process. Putting your self in a place of submission to God's will. You can't do that if you donít know God's will, can you? If you want to break the yoke you have to be submitted to God
He knows we canít be receptive if we are not in submission.
Thatís one of the purposes of fasting.
Generally, You deny the flesh and this allows your spirit man to rise up.
This is what God wants. He wants our spiritual antenna up so we can hear .
He wants us to be able to receive from Him. We canít do that if we are spending 4 hours a night watching TV.
You can deny your flesh without spending time in the word and prayer and also your own worship time. All that you will accomplish is that you might loose weight.
Specifically, a God led fast has a purpose (His purpose). It always has a positive
outcome, He wants to see His will fulfilled. Not only in us individually but also in us collectively. Many times God will lead us to fast individually for specific reasons.
There are often certain things in us He wants to clean up or straighten out. I know I have been led at times and I didnít always know what God wanted until later.
I believe the purpose of a corporate fast is to help us find our individual place
within this local body so that we can begin if we havenít already to walk in them. and then also to fulfill our collective purpose within the body of Christ as a whole.
If we can all find our individual position within the body and begin to walk in them then along with the right leadership and focus our individual gifts will edify and strengthen the collective body, and allow us to fulfill the plan of God both collectively and individually. A lot of bodies never fulfill that.
1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
Romans 12:5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
Many pastors who have a strong vision for their local body and know what they are supposed to be doing, yet they canít fulfill our individual calling, and are not responsible for that, but are only responsible for helping us to get going in the right direction together. We all have a responsibility in this.
If we donít fulfill our individual purpose then the whole body could never be what God called it to be. (God has called us to fulfill His purpose together.)
Our success is directly tied to our pastorís success, and our pastorís success, is directly tied to ours. Their job is to show us our collective calling. They canít show us our individual calling. We have a part to play in this. We canít just sit on the pew and expect to see the perfect will of God performed in the body, it just wonít happen. There is a lot at stake here, more than just the individual success of any members. Itís the collective purpose of God for the body of Christ. We have a part to play in this joint success.
Joint success requires all of us walking in the will of God together, or it is not joint success.
When we fast together, we get revelation of our individual and collective purpose of who and what we are in Christ. We need to approach the next fast with these things in mind. Weíre not just going hungry trying to get God to move and do something.
We are finding our purpose then walking in the things God has called us to walk in, then God will move.
If we wonít find our purpose then we will never fulfill the perfect plan of God in our lives. Our individual laziness will also affect the rest of the body, and we will never receive the full blessing ourselves. I would like to fulfill Godís perfect will.
Rom:12:2: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable,
and perfect, will of God.
We can be in His good will and never come close to fulfilling the perfect will of God in our lives. There are churches all over the place that are doing just that. You could be one of them or you could go on to the next level. There are 3 levels here. We canít get to the third level by being bystanders. It will never happen. Maybe some individually will reach out and fulfill their purpose, but we as a body will never collectively fulfill that purpose together if we aren't all participating. Itís a team effort.
Many pastors and leaders are seeking God to get direction and purpose for His body, and want us to do the same, and find the place in this body that God has preordained for us to occupy. What does the Word say? Ö without a vision the people perish.
Many times in a time of fasting not only are yokes broken but we are given specific direction, and the anointing required to fulfill the call of God on our lives Ö He's preordained us to fulfill these good works before the foundation of the world. Did you know that? You have a place within the body of Christ to occupy, and I'm not talking about a pew.
We have preordained works that God has called us to fulfill. Both individually and collectively as a body.
You and I have the responsibility to find out what our Fathers directions are, so we can fulfill that calling.
He will give us the specific direction and the anointing to fulfill His purpose, Heís not going to give us a purpose then leave us dangling is He? NO, Heís not!
Eph:2:10: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Let's look at an example of this, in Acts 13:
Acts 13:1-3. Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'' Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
Notice the conditions in which the Holy Ghost spoke,
Fasting and worshiping God. Ö
They were given a clear direction for their calling and an anointing to accomplish what the Lord sent them to do. These men were already accomplished ministers. They could have been satisfied with what they had right there, but God had more for them. You will notice in chapter 14 when it was talking about them it calls them Apostles. Paul didnít start out as an Apostle, remember the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will. They wanted to fulfill that perfect will of God in their lives, So they were fasting, worshiping God, waiting on the Lord to give them direction, werenít they?
Have you ever stopped to consider what would have happened to Paul and Barnabas if they had not taken the time to wait on God and seek Him, and avail themselves of Him. We have a part to play in this. You donít just step out into the perfect will of God without clear direction, and you donít get clear direction spending 4 hours a night watching TV.
A lot of people step out and do something for God, but just because you are doing something for God doesnít mean that you are walking in His will.
Something, but it will be vain labor. I want my labor to be in line with what the Lord wants for me donít you?
Paul and Barnabas would not have received their Apostleship. They never would
Have had hands laid on them, and they would have never received the anointing to fullfill the work God had called them to fulfill, and they would have never fulfilled the perfect will of God in their lives
God equipped them and anointed them to fulfill His purpose. That equipping happened during a time of fasting and seeking Him, ministering to Him and worshiping Him, availing themselves to Him. The calling of God was already there, but they had to put themselves into a place where they could receive that calling and anointing didnít they? .
Paul went on to fulfill the calling of God on His life and wrote 2/3s of the New Testament in the process.
God did not call any one person to do it all. Ministers get burned out trying to do it all. That is not God's will.
We each have a place to fulfill in God's plan. We have to seek God about the
calling and gifts He has given to us individually if we are ever going to build up the rest of the body. Thatís what it is all about. There is not suppose to be a few people doing it all. Itís not supposed to work that way, every member is supposed to supply.
Every joint supplies to the whole.
We can not fulfill the purpose of our local body, if we canít ourselves supply to every member what God has placed in our hand to supply, can we?
I would like for you to take the time to consider these things, and the next time you approach a fast, approach it with the attitude that you are going to put your fleshly desires aside, and put yourself in a position to receive from Him! Amen.