By Bishop Toris Young
I AM SO GLAD YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO MAKE FASTING A PART OF YOUR LIFE. Fasting has been an essential part of my life and my walk with God since I was a teenager. Even in those developmental years, learning to hear His voice and see His hand move in my life, I learned that this private spiritual discipline has public rewards. To this day, when I feel myself growing spiritually dry, when I don`t sense that cutting-edge anointing when I need a fresh encounter with God, fasting is the secret key that unlocks heaven`s door and slams shut the gates of hell.
The discipline of fasting releases the anointing, the favor, and the blessing of God in the life of a Christian. So if you are not content to go through this year the way you went through last year, now is the time to use the discipline of fasting to see breakthroughs. You know there`s more there`s an assignment for your life, there`s something God desires to release in your life, and there is a genuine desperation for those things gripping your heart. Keep these words of Jesus in mind throughout your fast:
Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:16-18
There are dimensions of our glorious Lord that will never be revealed to the casual, disinterested worshiper. There are walls of intercession that will never be scaled by dispassionate religious services. But when you take steps to break out of the ordinary and worship Him as He deserves, you`ll begin to see facets of His being you never knew existed. He`ll begin to share secrets with you about Himself, His plans, and His desires for you. When you worship God as He deserves, He is magnified. Your prayers take on a powerful edge when you fast. As you use this fasting and prayer devotional over the next twenty-one days, or however long the Holy Spirit directs you. You will be amazed at the things God will show you as you press into Him!
There Are Different Kinds Of Fasts. There are private fasts that you do privately, and the Bible also describes "called fasts" when unusual times and situations call for unusual measurements and supernatural response from God. Here at Greater Bibleway Church International, we have found that the greatest time to fast is at the beginning of the year. If you give God time at the beginning of the year, he will do amazing things in your life.
There are three things you must ask yourself before you fast. Number one, what are the motives behind the fast? I appreciate the fact that a fast has been proven medically to be healthy for you because it detoxifies your body, cleanses you, and causes your digestive tract to be healthier, but that is not what a fast is really all about. So, that first question you need to ask yourself is, What is my motive behind this fast? Why am I doing this so I can fit back into my clothes after the Christmas holidays? That will be a side benefit, but that shouldn`t be the main reason.
Second you must ask, What are the specific needs I am fasting for? When people fasted in the Bible, they fasted for a specific need. Sometimes they were in trouble, sometimes it was for finances, and other times they were fasting for their children or for the help of for direction. I want you to get in your mind that specific reasons for which you are fasting. If God came down and asked you to list the three top things you want Him to do in your life and in your family, you should know those reasons and keep them before you during the time you fast.
The third question you should ask is, Am I determined to minister to the Lord during my fast? Acts 13:2 tells us that the prophets and teachers at the church in Antioch "ministered to the Lord and fasted." Fasting is a time we set aside for ministering to the Lord; it`s not about us getting what we can get from God all the time. God will move when we fast, but it should be a time when our heart is crying out, "I want to minister to You; I want t love You; I want to know You; I want to draw closer to You; my heart cries for You."
The way you approach your fast is extremely important. If you are not serious about it, then you won`t get real serious results. The more serious you are about the fast, the more serious God will respond. if you are frivolous or lighthearted about it - "Well, I`ll fast, but I don`t really feel like it" - that`s not going to work. Your heart has to be in the fast, and when your heart is in it, there will come a fellowship with God like you have never known before!
There is an amazing scripture verse in Zechariah 7:5 "Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years the people had declared a certain time every year when they would fast to God. After fasting in this way for seventy years, God asked the question, "Are you fasting for Me?"
Did you know that it`s possible to go on a fast and have so many personal motives and agendas that you`re not even fasting unto God - you are fasting for your own wants and desires? God told the people in Zachariah`s day, "You have been doing this every year at the same time for seventy years, but I want to know if anybody is hungering for Me and My kingdom, for My agenda and purpose and plan in the earth."
In the New Testament, God told the Philippian church to beware of setting their minds on "earthly things," and thus allowing their belly to become their god. (see Philippians 3:18-19.) He warned the Corinthians in this way: "And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play (1 Cor. 10:7). I refuse to let my belly become my god. Fasting brings the flesh off of the throne. "I discipline my body and bring it into subjection" (1 Cor. 9:27). When we fast, we submit our bodies to God and say, "Cleanse this body, and deal with the habits and other things that are earthly. Get this nicotine out of me; get this lust out of me. I`m presenting this flesh to You. I know the flesh will always be here, but I`m letting it know that Jesus is Lord in this temple."
Every time I fast, I get closer to God. Every time you fast, you will get closer to God. There is no greater reward than Him.
There are seven types of fasts in the Bible.
1. The Esther fast - the three day fast
In Esther 4:16 we read of the fast initiated by Queen Esther. She asked the people to "fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise." She needed favor with the king when she stood before him. The purpose of the three-day Esther fast is to seek God`s favor in the time of crisis. Are you in trouble? Is your home in trouble? Is one of your kids in trouble? Are your finances in a state of crisis? One biblical reason to fast is when there is trouble in your life.
When trouble and great crisis come, we should not fall to pieces or collapse. We don`t back down when the enemy comes in. We rise up like a flood, come right back at him, and say, "You think you are bringing a crisis to me. You meant this crisis for my evil, but God is going to turn it around for my good, and this crisis is going to become a blessing." If you are in a crisis; if you are in trouble; if the crisis of depression, hopelessness, or bankruptcy is threatening you; give God a chance. Give God a chance in the time of trouble. God will turn that crisis and deliver you, just as He delivered Paul in Acts 9. When Paul was converted, the people he used to be with tried to kill him. That`s what you call a crisis. But because he had fasted, God had a plan for his deliverance.
2. The Daniel Fast - a twenty-one-day fast
The second fast is found in Daniel 10:2-3: "In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled." This is a three-week fast, a twenty-one-day fast. This is three sevens. Seven is the number of completion.
A Daniel fast is a fast of only vegetables, fruit, and water. It includes no bread of any type, no pasta, and no meat. This will be one of the greatest, healthiest things you will ever do. Your entire system will be healthier. But why do people do the twenty-one-day fast? What result did Daniel get? after the twenty-one-day fast, Daniel said this:
Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. And he said to me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you...Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come." Daniel 10:10-11, 14
Just as God had a vision for Daniel, God has a vision for your life, a dream for you. He has ordered your life from beginning to end - whom you should marry, what you should do, and where you are supposed to go. He knows your every step-all of it. God has the vision. But notice that the twenty-one-day fast is what caused understanding of the vision to Daniel. Another word for understanding would be focus or clarity. it brought about the know-how to make the vision happen.
This has happened so many times in this ministry. As we`ve grown from one level to another, through fasting God brought us an understanding of how to make the vision we had come to pass. The vision of seeing your children saved is not a lie from hell. God is not dangling the hope out there just to torment you. Habakkuk 2:3 says, "For the vision is yet for an appointed time." but you don`t just wait idly for it; you do your part. And nothing positions you better for a breakthrough than a fast. God is the God of the breakthrough. Through a twenty-one-day fast, God will give you an understanding of the vision He has given to you.
3. The self-examination fast-the one day fast
In Leviticus 23:27, we read about a one-day fast: "also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD." What is this about? There is a confirming scripture in Jeremiah 36:6, which says: "Therefore go thou, and read in the roll, which thou hast written from my mouth, the words of the Lord in the ears of the people in the Lord`s house upon the fasting day". I love that: "...upon the fasting day."
In other words, God is saying, "I want you to set aside a certain time that you fast and seek Me, and here`s the purpose for it---for self-examination and consecration." When you do this fast, you need to say, "God, I`m doing a checkup on me spiritually. How am I doing? Do I love You like I loved You when I first met You? Have I drawn closer to You this year, or have I lost my passion? Is my worship what You desire? Is it at the level You desire? Am I living it with my children? Is my family seeing Christ in me? What about my temper? What about my words? What about my attitude? Am I negative? Am I ugly in my actions toward people? Lord, I`m bringing myself to You because I really do want to be more like You, and I need a self-examination. I`m seeing some things in my life that are not like You, and I want You to help me deal with them on this fast." The one-day fast is a fast of self-examination