“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exploit all your laborers. Indeed you fast for strife and debate, and to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, to make your voice heard on high. 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?” (Isaiah 58:3-9)
Thought for Today: “Authentic Revival”
The most significant reason for the Christian to develop a lifestyle of prayer and fasting is to be heard in heaven (Ezra 8:23) and begin to hear from heaven (2 Chr. 7:14). We desire a dialogue with God so that we see the way He sees and carry out the mandate He has on His heart. God has an agenda and our sense of destiny and spiritual peace will always be tied to it.
God’s Chosen Fast:
What we must recognize is that “why” and “how” we fast and pray is as important as “what” or “when”. God tells His people through the Prophet Isaiah that they cannot fast in the way they were in their day and expect to be heard in heaven (Isa 58:4). Clearly, there is a chosen fast that offers real impact on our lives and the world around us. There is a chosen path that advances the Kingdom of God. When the heavens feel like brass (Deut. 28:23) and our prayers go unanswered, then it is time to re-evaluate our responses to God (Ps 139:23-24). Notice how prayer and fasting shapes Jesus’ thoughts about His ministry to the world.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.” (Lk 4:18-20)
Clarifying the Vision:
Prayer and fasting clarified His vision for the task at hand. Jesus was not becoming more religious, but feeling the urgency of heaven’s revealed destiny. God’s agenda has always been about reclaiming His people and restoring their original place in His heart… this is the essence of authentic revival. This is why Jesus’ passion was focused on breaking the yokes of injustice and crushing the barriers that seemed to stand in the way of spiritual freedom. Authentic revival begins when we see what God sees and passionately live for His purpose! We must shift our focus and efforts toward God’s chosen path!
* Authentic revival begins when we see what God sees and passionately live for His purpose!
Getting God’s Ear:
I love what the Prophet Jeremiah said. “When you seek Me with all your heart, I will be found by you …and I will bring you back from your captivity” (Jer 29:13-14). When we are willing to set aside legitimate appetites of the flesh and concentrate on seeking God as He longs to be sought after, He promises to be found by us. God seeks worshipers, but because He is spirit, He longs to fellowship with those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:23-24).
We must recognize the warfare, the wrestling and the prevailing over spiritual forces that it takes to effectively hear from heaven. We do not wrestle with flesh and blood (Eph 6:12), we do not fight as those beating the air (1 Cor 9:26), our warfare is not carnal (2 Cor 10:4), but we take our stand against spiritual authorities in heavenly places. The anointing of God is for breaking yokes and releasing authentic revival in the world around us (Isa 10:27)!
“What will it cost us? What price will we pay?” Perhaps these are the wrong questions… “What could be?” and “Why not breakthrough?” These are the quests that lead to authentic revival. Breakthrough matters… yokes being destroyed offer freedom; yet, when the eyes of the world are fixed upon us, as they were on Jesus; what will we be contending for? These are the reasons for a lifestyle of prayer and fasting…
- to lift up your voice as a trumpet… telling people of their transgressions and how to get right with God.
- to get through to a people who delight in their approach… when God is not pleased.
- to loose the bonds of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens and let the oppressed go free!
- to share your bread with the hungry, embrace the poor, cover the naked and not hide yourself from the needs of others.
Yes there is a sacrifice, but the benefits are eternal!
Scripture: Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:14-19)
Thought for Today: “Increasing in the Anointing”
Jesus was anointed by God and increased in that anointing by a lifestyle of prayer and fasting. His example is designed to be our model of spiritual discipline. It was Jesus’ experience even as a youth to increase in His favor with God and man (Lk 2:52) but prior to His ministry we can see a direct connection between His lifestyle of prayer and fasting and His increasing anointing (Lk 5:12-13)(Lk 6:12)(Mk 9:29).
Notice how God moves Jesus into His public ministry:
- He is baptized in the river Jordan, where He is filled with the Holy Spirit and hears the voice of His Father from heaven (Lk 3:21-22).
- Immediately (it would appear to me) Jesus establishes a posture of prayer and fasting as He is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil (Mt 4:1-2).
- While in the wilderness, Jesus feels the challenges of the Devil, the hunger in His body and the threat of wild beasts. He becomes aware of the ministry of angels as well as the strength given by the Words that proceeded from the mouth of God (Mk 1:12-13).
- He experiences increase in the anointing and breaks through the challenge victorious, because the Devil left Him until a more opportune time (Lk 4:13).
- Jesus would return to Galilee in the increased anointing and power of the Holy Spirit bearing evidence with signs following, because people give Him glory and praise for His teaching ministry (Lk 4:14-15).
- Now that the temptation was over His ministry would begin with a journey to Nazareth and an announcement of how He was anointed by the Holy Spirit to preach, heal, bring deliverance and freedom to the captive heart (Lk 4:16-19).
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38)
Defining the Anointing:
The anointing is God being “with us” or God’s Glory manifest upon our lives. Glory is defined best as God’s “Weighty” Presence or abiding spiritual power made known through our fellowship with the Holy Spirit. I have often said the anointing is God’s hand of favor upon our lives for the advancing of His activity in the world around us. We see this in how Jesus carried the anointing. He went about the Judean countryside advancing the Kingdom of God, because the anointing was on His life. God was with Him, empowering and leading Him, breaking the grip of the Devil and advancing the activity of His Father’s heart.
Why Prayer and Fasting:
Prayer and fasting increases our ability to know and sense the supernatural Presence of God, by awakening our spiritual senses and diminishing our emphasis on flesh desires. His power and His Glory begin to increase as we meet with God and experience fellowship in an unhindered way. God’s will and His ways become more recognizable when we are sensitive to His heart. I would describe the anointing as an actual physical experience whereby we feel the internal warmth of His Presence upon our body. That is why it increases as we pray and fast. By yielding our hearts in greater measure to the Holy Spirit’s activity we can welcome and value the anointing and make room for increase in our lives. It is like a signal that God sends to us saying that He is with us. He is showing Himself to us and approves of what we are saying or doing (Jn 14:21)(2 Cor 1:21).
There is nothing so important to our Christian walk than our faith in Christ… a faith that believes that God responds and rewards the diligent heart (Heb 11:6). It pleases Him when we step out in ways that give Him greater opportunity to reach the world around us. It is my desire to encourage prayer and fasting in all believers, so that they may find increase in the anointing of God and be more effective as Kingdom Agents in the world around them. We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us… we speak a supernatural word and we minister to others by way of a supernatural power from God! (2 Cor 5:18-21).
Let your impact become… supernatural!
Scripture: “Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.” (Mark 1:12-13)
Thought for Today: “Ministering Angels”
The Christian life is to be a consecrated life, one where we are fully given to God and His plan for our future (Rom 12:1-2). We are called to be Sons of God, which means God father’s us. His fathering is experienced when we listen to the Holy Spirit and yield our hearts in obedient relationship. This can be a spiritual challenge, but prayer and fasting is one of the most effective tools to sharpen our convictions and shape our lives in a way that honors God in any “wilderness” experiences.
The wilderness was not the place Jesus would go to relax. It was a place that the Holy Spirit “drove Him” while He was in a season of consecration. The 40 days of prayer and fasting allowed Jesus the revelation of His Father’s resources in a time of testing. What we must come to appreciate is that consecration opens our spiritual eyes to revelation that cannot be seen any other way. A wilderness will never be more than a place of frustration until we can see beyond its challenges… and find the Father’s resources.
The Beloved Son:
Jesus is the One God called His beloved Son, yet fathering Jesus was no different than fathering any son. God’s Child needs to be aware of all that is available in times of testing. When Jesus was in the wilderness, He felt the discomfort of hunger and thirst. He had to negotiate the decisions that would offer deliverance from temptation and provide safety from ”wild beasts”. Yet, He was not stumbling over Himself in this experience, because He had access to the Father’s resources. Remember Jesus was not in the wilderness to be defeated, He was in the wilderness to discover resources available to a Son.
The Resource of Angels:
Notice in Mark’s gospel, one of the often overlooked blessings of a fasting lifestyle is the ministry of angels. Ministering Angels are a powerful resource available to the Child of God and I want to encourage our awareness of their presence in seasons of prayer and fasting. I have discovered that angels are attracted to God’s Children when living a consecrated lifestyle. The Apostle James tells us to draw near to God and He will draw near to us (Jms 4:8). I would propose that angels are attracted to the same things as God.
Nothing should so minister to the heart of God’s Child like the angels. They are God’s ministering spirits sent forth to the heirs of salvation (Heb 1:14). We are told that they accompany us when we walk in love, even without our knowledge (Heb 13:1-2). Great companies of angels are given to watch over our lives and keep us in all of our ways, so that we avoid stumbling and falling into traps often unseen in the wilderness (Ps 91:11-12). Abraham, Daniel, Anna and Cornelius were all visited by angels during seasons of consecration.
Remember Elisha’s revelation of the heavenly host of warring angels that assembled around him at all times (2 Kings 6:17). Encourage yourself today in whatever “wilderness” you find yourself driven into. You are not there to be overwhelmed, crushed or defeated! You are there to discover the Father’s resource available to the consecrated Son.
Consecration gives us the eyes to see… and the heart to believe.
Scripture: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ But He answered and said, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, and, in their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.” (Mt. 4:1-11)
Thought for Today: “When Tempters Come… It is Written!”
The tempter came to Jesus and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:3-4)
In this passage we have a wonderful opportunity to see how Jesus dealt with the tempter in the wilderness. It is interesting to note that it is the Holy Spirit who leads Jesus into this situation where we find Him hungry and vulnerable to the tempter’s approach. Jesus has denied His physical body of food for 40 days so that He could focus upon the Words of God. This focus has brought Him into a place of testing that cannot be duplicated in any other environment. He is challenged about His identity, His authority and His loyalty. In every situation His response is the same – “It is Written!” The Word of God was His most valuable weapon… and in the end the Devil left Him discouraged and defeated.
The Wilderness Experience:
There are seasons where we need to remind our body where our true resource is found. Jesus pointed out to His disciples that He had food that they did not know about (Jn 4:32). Whether our appetite is for food, entertainment, or even other people; the wilderness experience reminds us that we were created for more than just flesh desires. Getting to the core values that we stand upon is essential when in the midst of temptation, testing and trials of our faith. If we have a shallow understanding of our faith in God, then we will find ourselves struggling when the tempter comes… and he will come.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” (Jn. 10:10)
Focus on God’s Word:
I want to emphasize something we often overlook in those wilderness experiences… the one-two punch of quoting Scripture and fasting. Jesus is focusing on the Words of God within a fasting lifestyle, and that’s His greatest source of strength as the tempter comes to attack Him. Its true, the tempter will try to bring distraction and disruption to your spiritual journey; but recognize the security of knowing your resource is in the Word of God and prayer and fasting. There is just no threat when you live in the stronghold of God’s love and embrace. That is exactly what we have in the Words of God, a Stronghold of Truth that feeds our needy soul (Ps 119:161-168).
Jesus is the Word Made Flesh:
Later Jesus proclaims “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty” (Jn 6:35). God offers us something greater than bread, He offers us life in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. He is our spiritual resource. When we focus upon Jesus, looking into His eyes by faith, we are renewed in strength and revived in spirit (2 Cor 4:6). Likewise, when we focus on the Words of God in Scripture there is a revelation of the provision of God in Christ Jesus, released by the Holy Spirit (Col 1:27). Strength and joy are made available to defeat all enemies and bring revival to our weary souls.
Take note as you live, “the Kingdom of God is not food or drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17).
Scripture: “The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, ‘Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:18-22)
Thought for Today: “Carrying New Wine to the Nations”
A wineskin is designed to carry a resource. In Bible times long journeys would require a person to bring along something to drink through dry and dusty desert travels. Animal skins were flexible and yielded to the movement of wine that was commonly put into it. Jesus tells us, that old skins will not work; because they resist the new wine and burst. We pray and fast to remain sensitive to God and contend for the New Wine of the Holy Spirit being poured out into our hearts and lives. When we develop a lifestyle of prayer and fasting, we become an available resource for the nations!
Notice: Jesus said “As long as they have the Bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the Bridegroom will be taken from them and then they will fast in those days.”
Three Truths Jesus Emphasizes:
1st) Fasting is a Disciple’s Key:
Fasting is a key that opens doors of trust, relationship and honor! It keeps the wineskin fresh and flexible, because spiritual revelation is being received and understood. Faith and trust are being used by the person fasting and there is always a reward in the process (Heb 11:6)(Mt 6:18)(1 Cor 2:9-13). On the other side of every Kingdom door is a blessing and the favor of a loving God. Jesus said man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Mt 4:4).
2nd) Fasting has a Context:
Fasting has a timing element and an appropriate season! There is a time for celebration and a time for fasting. Timing is hinged to our need. Jesus emphasizes this as a unique time of celebration… as in a wedding. Jesus calls Himself the Bridegroom, because He was expecting to be received as the Messiah and loved by His disciples. Yet a time would come when He would be taken from them and then they would fast. They would feel the need to fast to pull their “life” from the unseen, spiritual realm. Fasting is a key to maintain a spiritual relationship, because we cannot see Jesus in the flesh today. Our life is found in the Spirit… the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:12-15)(Rom 5:5)(Rom 8:14).
3rd) Fasting is a Passion Issue:
Fasting is our effective tool against the flesh! We must not miss the context here in Jesus calling Himself the Bridegroom. The greatest thing a fasting discipline will do for us is focus our spiritual passions. By sacrificing what the flesh desires, we awaken our sensitivity in the spirit. When we need God’s grace in our lives, our hunger and thirst is visible through prayer, but there are times when breakthrough can only be experienced by fasting (Joel 2:15-19)(Mk 9:25-29). Prayer can be an aggressive tool, but when accompanied by fasting, it carries greater impact in the spiritual realm. It is the Father’s desire to make Himself vulnerable to those who seek Him with all of their heart, mind and strength (Jer 33:3)(Joel 2:12-14)(Lk 12:31-34).
Now is the Time:
God is pouring out His Spirit in this day and revival fires are being set in the nations. Now is the time and we are a people of destiny, to advance more than just a message. We must become carriers of His Glory. Through prayer and fasting we are making ourselves ready to carry the New Wine of His Presence…