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Fasting A Heart Attitude
FASTING A Heart Attitude
You, God and what it means in intercession.
Where did it begin?
It is not mentioned in the Pentateuch. The Mosaic Law, though directing minutely the foods to be eaten and to be shunned, never mentions fasting.
Numerous places throughout the Old Testament speak of fasting for the purposes of penitence. “Fasting” lies in the actions of self humiliation, for an outward sign of sorrow for sin, and is left to the conscientious discretion of each person.
But God, while not discounting outward acts of sorrow expressing inward penitence, declares, “is this not the fast I have chosen? to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to give the bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out to your house? When you see the naked that you clothe him, and that you don’t hide yourself from your own family?” Is. 58:4-7 (E M)
It became an outward action that did not mean anything, and the people simply went on sinning. God gives harsh words through the prophets about these actions and at times says, “I will not accept your prayers or your fasting because your heart is not true” (E M) Rejected; Isa.58:3, Jer.14:12
There are periodical fasts mentioned in the O.T., that have to do with Jerusalem, but even some of these God was not pleased with, because the people were fasting for themselves to gratify their own flesh, hypocritically, “did you fast to me, even to me? If it would have been to me, you would have separated yourself not only from food but from sin.” (emphasis mine) Zec. 7:3-5
What is the Purpose?
Fasting changes how God deals with you or a situation that is being fasted about.
(See: Jonah’s declaration to Nineveh and the people’s response.)
Often time’s circumstances require fasting with your praying. We may see in the near future that there will become a greater need for fasting over dilemmas, critical situations and encounters that we may have never faced before.
As for me, I have used fasting in my prayers on and off throughout my Christian life. I’ve never thought of being wrong or having the wrong attitude until a number of years ago, I was listening to a tape about intercession by Lila Tahourne, an intercessor from the Brownsville church at Pensacola Fl. She was also using fasting in her prayers when God spoke to her about fasting not being the coin to unlock the heavens. After listening to what she said I began to have a different approach to my fasting. I wanted to be sure I was coming to God in a right attitude and with his approval. I have done long fasts, progressive but not up to 40 days, because I never felt called to do one.
So, what I’m attempting to do here is give you a Biblical foundation and let you decide what God may or may not be directing for you in your fasting and intercession.
Now we know that there were many prayers accompanied by fasting that God did accept and answer. Dan.10:3, Ezr.8:23.
Confession for sin, 1Sam.7:6, Neh.9:1, 2.
Mourning, Joel 2:12
National repentance, Ninevites, Jon.3:5-8
Approaching danger, Est.4:16,
There are many other headings that could be spoken of here, but we want to get to fasting with regards to intercession.
So we move from the Old Testament to the New. What do we see Jesus doing with regards to fasting? He goes 40 days into the wilderness and breaks off the power over the sin nature of the past and of mans future and defeats the actions of the devil and overpowers the flesh, victorious, paving the way for us to walk in.
Commentators suggest, Moses’, Elijah’s, and Christ’s 40 days foodlessness was exceptional and miraculous. Forty is significant of punishment for sin, confession, or affliction. Christ the true Israel, denied himself for 40 days, as Israel indulged the flesh 40 years. They tempted God that time; he overcame the tempter 40 days.
Now, I understand following in Jesus footsteps and many people have done just that. Whether or not they sought God out as to the why and wherefore of their individual fast I do not know; only they do. Jesus did not do the fast for himself. He already was who he was; he did not have to do the fast to be something more. He was the LIVING WORD, and his agenda was already laid out in heaven. I’m seeing him as the great intercessor and doing the fast was #1) for Israel and #2) the world. There is no mention of the disciples doing this type of fast after his ascension. Their waiting for Holy Spirit, does not mention anything about this.
Fasting and prayer first mentioned in Luke 2:37, with regards to Anna, who prophesies about Jesus. Then Jesus’ own experience in the wilderness. Jesus also rebukes the Pharisees for their hypocritical use. John’s disciples: spoken of as habitual. By Cornelius: who was not a Jew, by Paul; in his explanation of trials and sufferings and the ordination of ministers by fasting and prayer. Paul does not make mention in any of the letters of Godly character traits and spirit-filled lifestyle. He does make reference with regards to husband and wife, separating themselves from having sexual relations for the purpose of prayer, (and I am assuming fasting) but not taking advantage of one another. (1 Cor. 7:5)
So where do we go from here. A lot of teaching has been written around Mat. 17:21, but this verse has been omitted from many translations. Let’s refer back to the fasting that God is interested in from Is.58:4-9.
Length of Fast
Let God be the one who speaks to your spirit regarding a length of time. It could be as brief as morning till sunset, which was a common practice or sundown one day until sundown of the next.
He is interested in where your heart is at, and your attitude towards your fellow men, especially the household of faith. Are you simply fasting to be noticed by others and promote your spiritual superiority? Then you are not going to be heard, God said it, you read it and you’ll get the picture.
Our prayers can be enhanced by fasting, but let’s follow the spiritual rules and be sure this is where God is leading you. When Jesus went into the wilderness he was “full” of the Holy Spirit and was “led”, by the Spirit. Luke 4:1-4.
Acts.13:13, their “minds were set” on prayer and fasting. There was a release of apostolic work and anointing.
Dan.9, energizing your prayers, Atom bombs in the spirit, heard right away, the answer was delayed because of the spiritual warfare.
Neh.1:4, For the restoration of Jerusalem.
Ezra 8:21, “intensely” seeking the Lords face, the Lord listened.
Ps.35:5, David, “humbles” himself with prayer and fasting, this is the pathway to grace.
Is.58:8-9, gives us the benefits from right fasting. Light, health, righteousness, glory of the Lord your guard, answered prayer, guidance, refreshing, restoration.
I have always been inspired by Nehemia, Daniel, and Esther’s use of fasting, noting that it was always about others. Even David fasting and praying for his enemies.
There appears to be two types of fasts mentioned in the Bible. The TOTAL: no eating or drinking. The PARTIAL: with restrictions in your diet.
Total: Moses; Ex. 34:28 and Jesus Matt. 4 (we are assuming Jesus took no water?)
Partial: Daniel; Dan. 10:3
Teachings of Today
There are different types of fasting that I have heard others use.
Partial, such as giving up coffee breaks, treats, or other things that please our senses.
Veggy fast: giving up meats and rich foods.
Water or juice fasts: replacing a meal or two throughout the week.
Progressive fasting: starting small one meal per day, then building to two and so on for as long as you are led.
What doesn’t count? Giving up meals when you are used to skipping them, like breakfast a meal you may do without normally.
Fasting is meant to cost you something. It is easy to be fleshly.
What about fasts that have nothing to do with food? Perhaps you are ill or have needs that don’t allow you to participate in being without food. Fast your TV time, your Internet time, your phone time, or other personal pleasures. Do you think these are viable things that God would honor?
So my conclusion is to say, “be filled and be led by Holy Spirit” in your fasting and intercession.
I believe that God in you working with your spirit will assist in showing you what is right for you. If you are unsure then follow biblical direction and be open to Holy Spirit.
Caution: Please be wise and drink water/juice, especially for any length of fasting!
QUERY (From Handbook)
1) Deciphering Is. 58
Isaiah 58:4-7 (Amplified Bible)
4)[The facts are that] you fast only for strife and debate and to smite with the fist of wickedness. Fasting as you do today will not cause your voice to be heard on high.
5)Is such a fast as yours what I have chosen, a day for a man to humble himself with sorrow in his soul? [Is true fasting merely mechanical?] Is it only to bow down his head like a bulrush and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him [to indicate a condition of heart that he does not have]? Will you call this a fast and an acceptable day to the Lord?
6)[Rather] is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every [enslaving] yoke?(A)
7)Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house--when you see the naked, that you cover him, and that you hide not yourself from [the needs of] your own flesh and blood?
1) On what basis did God reject the fasting?
2) How would we know if we are fulfilling the purpose for which fasting was intended?
3) What are the “Spiritual Rules?”
4) Not all fasting was rejected as we have seen from, Daniel, Esther, David, Nehemiah, and instances in the New Testament.
5) Rewards: See Is.58:8-9
CONCLUSION: Be Wise, Be Full, Be Led