Truly Our Lord's forty day fast without a meal was a divinely empowered event! I can't even imagine going without a meal for that long. In fact, it's a very dangerous venture, healthwise.
But we recently finished a week long gathering of prayer & fasting and that too, needs to be a time that is divinely inspired, empowered & sustained. Here's a few things that the Lord was showing me during this time of abstaining from physical nourishment & drinking only liquids, water, tea, coffee & depending upon the Lord for strength from His fellowship in prayer, the Word & a deep yearning for His Spirit to empower, pour out & manifest Himself in our lives, our city, our church & our personal needs!
First, I learned that the battle between the flesh & the Spirit is indeed alive. (Gal.5:17) 'For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.' The enemy of our souls truly does not want the church to awaken, to move in power, to win souls, to become intimate with Christ & aware of His power. There was a definite battle in the spiritual realm as well as just a daily wrestling with the fleshly, carnal appetites, specifically food!
Second, The Word of God truly is a sustaining source of supernatural strength! (Matt.4:4, 1Pet.2:2) 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he appealed to the Lord's hunger during His fast. But Jesus replied with what He was relying on for His nourishment & strength, the spiritual bread, the manna from heaven, the milk of God's Word, the meat of God's word, the honey of God's Word, the water of God's Word! It truly is all that & more during a time of fasting!
Third, The Spirit of God gives life & strength to our physical bodies. (Rom.8:11) 'But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.' There were daily times & times of desperation when I called upon the Lord to fill me with His Strength that I felt empowered in a new & fresh way! Without His enabling we are nothing!
Fourth, Be thankful for the little things! (Phil.4:11-13) Learn to be content, whether full or hungry! One of the things the Lord brought to my attention was how we take for granted often the times that we do give thanks to God for our meals. Sometimes our prayers are so 'vain repetitious' that we truly don't mean what we say, but only to get the prayer out of the way so we can eat! Be thankful to God in everything & for those things that we are fortunate to enjoy.
Fifth, Think of others! There's a needy world out there! The Poor, homeless & hungry! (Prov.19:17) 'He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.' When the church is purposely going without food to seek the Lord, it brings to mind those in our community that go without food daily without choice, but by circumstance or difficulty. We need to continue to reach out to those that are close on God's heart.
Sixth, God hears the prayers of the righteous! (1 Pet.3:12) 'For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.' It's a blessing to know, God hears us & will answer us according to His will.
Seventh, Fasting teaches us to be self-less, to deny ourselves. A quality the Lord desires to see in each of His disciples. (Matt.16:24)
Eighth, Fasting & Prayer teaches us to rely completely on the Lord. (Prov.3:5-6) Teaches us to trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, acknowledge Him in all your ways & He shall direct your paths.
Nine & Ten, Fasting teaches us self-discipline & puts Christ in His proper position as Lord. Truly the flesh-led life is good for nothing except to be crucified. What I think of when I think of self-discipline is letting the 'flesh-life' know that it is not in control. The Lord is in charge! The appetites of the flesh are not in charge! God is in charge of this vessel. God want's us to be led of the Spirit, controlled by the Spirit, full of the Spirit, not the appetites of this carnal nature. (1Cor.9:27; Rom.7:18,23-24, 8:5-8, Gal.5:22-23)
I want to challenge you to include some self-discipline into your spiritual walk every so often as the Lord leads! Challenge yourself to fast & devote yourself to prayer, either for a few days or a week! It'll do you some good spiritually. Remember, Jesus taught 'When you fast...' (Matt.6:16) not 'If you fast' supposing that His disciples would include this discipline as a part of their walk. Be Blessed! Dave