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Fasting And Prayer
I enjoy fasting. It’s not that I take great delight in depriving myself of life’s basic necessities for a season, but because the rewards are so great. This is what the Bible teaches. When we seek Him privately, we are rewarded openly. When we proclaim a church fast, it is not such a private thing, but the rewards are still there because we have chosen to seek Him together for His purposes.
I set before the Lord four things that I needed answers to during my time of seeking Him. ( It is important to fast and pray if you want answers from God ) My wife and I spent several days at a time away from home seeking the Lord, and the first time we set aside for this I was surprised by the suddenness of God’s response to these requests. I say “surprised” because I often don’t get any answers at all till after I have fasted and sought God. But this time was different. Most of my answers came in the first two weeks of fasting, and the rest of the time I was just “fasting”!! The Lord was gracious in revealing to me several life-changing keys that gave me understanding of the season and times of my life, and how these all fitted perfectly into His wonderful plan for me, my family, the church, and His great big wonderful world as a whole. He really does have it all in control. We flow better with His purpose for our lives when we understand some of these things.
The prayer and spiritual cleansing of the fast were important and timely. Some things surfaced that were difficult to deal with, but I feel better and loved knowing that My heavenly Father chastises those He loves.
Important also during this particular fast was the revelation and insight I gained on the need for a complete physical overhaul. This was one of the main reasons for me personally doing an extended fast, and my return to good health was one of the four things I sought God for.
The health benefits of a fast are a great blessing if the fast is done properly and using wisdom. I have found this particular fast a life changing event. For the first 2 weeks prior to the 40 day fast our whole family ate mainly fruit and raw vegetables. We ate in abundance and yet I lost 7 kilograms. Over the total period of the fast I lost 20 kilograms and I have not felt so good in years. I believe the promise of Isaiah 40:31 “They that wait upon the Lord ( in prayer and fasting ) shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” For years now I have been complaining of constant tiredness and seemed to be living in a general state of listlessness and fatigue. Part of my problem was the difficulty I had in getting to sleep at night. Stress and poor physical health was also a factor I believe. A fellow minister once admonished me for my “bad confession”, but my “good” confession didn’t make things any better! I thought I was just growing old; having never turned 50 before I thought this was my lot in life from here on out. But to my joyous surprise I have discovered the promise of renewed strength! I really do feel “alive, alert and sizzling with enthusiasm” and my sleep is sweet as – just like the Bible promises.
I do believe our state of health has a lot to do with the type of foods we eat. One of the earliest commands that God gave the Israelites as they left their bondage in Egypt was concerning their dietary habits. He said to them, “if you pay close attention to the dietary laws I am giving you I will bless your food and water and will not put any of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians.” What is being said here? I believe God knows what foods are good for us and which ones aren’t ( after all He made them ) and what He is saying is this - if we eat the right foods they will bless our body and keep us healthy and free from disease. If we eat and live healthy we will avoid the “pre-cancer condition” that predisposes our bodies to sickness and never have to deal with this curse on modern society.
There are several examples in the Bible of eating vegetables and fruit only – Daniel for example – and the record states that his health was better than any of the other servants who ate of the kings delicacies. I am not advocating a purely vegetarian diet, but it is interesting to note that before man sinned God gave us “every herb that yields seed and every tree whose fruit yields seed” for food. After the flood God said, “every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.” So, if it moves, I can eat it! But remember also, “the sum of thy word is truth” – not just verses in isolation – so we must also heed the Bibles warning to “not eat the fat” of an animal. Even medical science today confirms for us that a healthy diet is one which is based mainly on fresh fruit and raw vegetables, some nuts and grains, and light on animal produce. We live in a society today that not only ignores God’s Word, but also the voice of medical science – imperfect though it may be – dedicated to our physical well being. “They that despise the Word ( by ignorance or neglect ) will be in debt to it.” We live in debt to basic instruction concerning our dietary habits and we are paying a price for it. Preachers are no exception. No one is above the Word of God. “Put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite.” It may not be politically correct to voice such a point of view, and the statement may be offensive to some, but it is Bible. (Proverbs 23:2)
This may seem more like a teaching than a “testimony” but I feel compelled to address these issues because they affect us so deeply on every level. I remember Lester Sumrall saying, “The Bible commands us to go into all the world and preach the gospel, but if your body can’t go, you can’t go.” How can we do the work of the Lord if we are constantly having to battle fatigue, sickness and general ill health? How many families and marriages would be better if tempers weren’t constantly on the edge because of a general state of poor health? A more holistic approach towards solving some of these problems is necessary I feel.
I believe God has placed every member of the Body of Christ in the Body for the benefit of the whole, and I believe every church is also placed in the Body to benefit us all. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for some “faith” churches to confess our pride instead of our favourite healing verses, and start listening to some of our Seventh Day brethren who are so strong on diet and other health issues.
To sum up, today I feel so rejuvenated and enthusiastic about life that I have purposed in my heart to make fasting a regular part of my lifestyle, and to watch my overall eating habits judiciously. I hope this little adventure together has inspired and empowered you all to take a good look at life, your eating habits, and your walk with God. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord……in prayer and fasting continually” and “we shall delight ourselves in the Lord, He will cause us to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed us with the heritage of Jacob our father.” ( Isaiah 58:14)