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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fasting & Prayer



Leading up to the elections here in the U.S., and along with Chavda Ministries, we will be participating in a 40 day fast here at  First Love Missions and we urge you to join us in fasting and praying for our nation, regardless of who is elected, and that she would return to the solid foundation of having God at the center. We will be posting more very shortly on the fast & prayer taking place between September 29 - November 7. We will carry the fast through the entire day of November 7, breaking it on the morning of November 8, 2012. This article contains some general fasting guidelines, with scriptural support, and will hopefully stretch your understanding of what fasting is all about.

First of all, how you begin and conduct your fast will largely determine your success. By following these seven basic steps to fasting, you will make your time with the Lord more meaningful and spiritually rewarding. Also, fasting doesn’t mean water only. Fasting can be incorporated into any aspect of your life: from eating only clear broths or juicing to eliminating TV watching or Internet use or anything else that you do on a regular basis. The entire purpose behind fasting is to deny yourself by abstaining from comforts and worldly pleasures (the natural) to use the time that you would be doing whatever (eating, watching TV, etc) in prayer (the supernatural). This is at the very heart of fasting.

Also, do not be broadcasting the fact that you are fasting (i.e. suffering hunger or whatever). As it is written in Matthew 6:16-18, we are to fast, “And whenever you are fasting, do not look gloomy and [sour and dreary like the hypocrites, for they put on a dismal face, that their fasting may be apparent to and seen by all men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full already. But when you fast, perfume your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may not be noticed by men but by your Father, Who sees in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open.”

If anything we should not let on at all that we are sacrificing, not even if we explain that we are doing so to draw nearer to God. Fasting should be kept personal.

**NOTE: We do not recommend a 40-day water only fast, except only if lead by the Spirit to do so and only then for those that are accustomed to a fasting lifestyle.

STEP 1: Set Your Objective

Why are you fasting? Is it for spiritual renewal, for guidance, for healing, for the resolution of problems, for special grace to handle a difficult situation? Ask the Holy Spirit to clarify His leading and objectives for your prayers. This will enable you to pray more specifically and strategically. In other words pray for guidance about what you’re supposed to pray about.

Through fasting and prayer we humble ourselves before God so the Holy Spirit will stir our souls, awaken our churches, and heal our land according to 2 Chronicles 7:14, which says “If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”  Make this a priority in your fasting.

STEP 2: Make Your Commitment

Just as with setting your objective, you also need to pray about the kind of fast you should undertake. Jesus implied that all of His followers should...
fast. As it is written in Matthew 9:14,15:  Then the disciples of John came to Jesus, inquiring, Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast? And Jesus replied to them, Can the wedding guests mourn while the bridegroom is still with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

For Jesus it was a matter of when believers would fast, not if they would do it. Before you fast, pray about the following:
  • How long you will fast - one meal, one day, a week, several weeks, forty days (Beginners should start slowly, building up to longer fasts.)
  • The type of fast God wants you to undertake (such as water only, or water and juices; what kinds of juices you will drink and how often; soups, etc)
  • What physical or social activities you will restrict (TV; Internet, Golf, Sports, etc)
  • How much time each day you will devote to prayer and God's Word
Making these commitments ahead of time will help you sustain your fast when physical temptations and life's pressures tempt you to abandon it.

STEP 3: Prepare Yourself Spiritually

One of the basic foundations of fasting and prayer is repentance and forgiveness. Unconfessed sin and holding resentments will at the very least hinder your prayers and in the worst case scenario totally block your prayer efforts. As it is written in Matthew 6:14-15: “ For if you forgive people their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.

Here are several things you can do to prepare your heart:
  • Pray for total forgiveness of our transgressions – BE SPECIFIC!
  • Confess every sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and accept God's forgiveness:
1 John 1:9 says: “ If we freely admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you
Mark 11:25 says: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it go, in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you of your failings and shortcomings and let them go.”
The Lord’s prayer it says: “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And bring us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”
  • Make restitution as the Holy Spirit leads you. Go and ask forgiveness or tell the brother or sister that you forgive them…this can be the most difficult of all.
  • Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit according to His command in Ephesians 5:18: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled with the Holy Spirit.” and His promise in 1 John 5:14-15 that “…if we ask anything according to His will, He listens to and hears us. And if we know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with absolute knowledge] that we have been granted the requests made of Him.”
  • Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior; refuse to obey your worldly nature
In Romans 12:1-2, Paul pleads: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of all the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect in His sight for you.
  • Pray in the attributes of Christ, His love, authority, power, wisdom, faithfulness, grace, compassion and forgiveness
Psalm 103:1-8:Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not one of His benefits— Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your mouth with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s! The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known His ways of righteousness and justice to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy and loving-kindness.

Psalm 103:11-13:  For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great are His mercy and loving-kindness toward those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
  • Begin your time of fasting and prayer with an expectant heart
Hebrews 11:6:  But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him out.”
  • Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit
Galatians 5:16-17:  But I say, walk and live in the Holy Spirit; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the Holy Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are opposed to the flesh; for these are antagonistic to each other, so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.

STEP 4: Prepare Yourself Physically

Fasting requires reasonable precautions. Consult your physician first, especially if you take prescription medication or have a chronic ailment. Some persons should never fast without professional supervision.

Physical preparation makes the drastic change in your eating routine a little easier so that you can turn your full attention to the Lord in prayer.
  • Do not rush into your fast.
  • Prepare your body. Eat smaller meals before starting a fast. Avoid high-fat and sugary foods.
  • Eat raw fruit and vegetables for two days before starting a fast.

During Your Fast

Your time of fasting and prayer has come. You are abstaining from all solid foods and have begun to seek the Lord. Here are some helpful suggestions to consider:
  • Avoid drugs if at all possible, even natural herbal drugs and homeopathic remedies. *Medication should be withdrawn only with your physician's supervision.
  • Limit your activity.
  • Exercise only moderately. Walk one to three miles each day if convenient and comfortable.
  • Rest as much as your schedule will permit.
  • Prepare yourself for temporary mental discomforts, such as impatience, crankiness, and anxiety.
  • Expect some physical discomforts, especially on the second day. You may have fleeting hunger pains, dizziness, or the "blahs." Withdrawal from caffeine and sugar may cause headaches. Physical annoyances may also include weakness, tiredness, or sleeplessness.
The first two or three days are usually the hardest. As you continue to fast, you will likely experience a sense of well-being both physically and spiritually. However, should you feel hunger pains, increase your liquid intake.


STEP 5: Put Yourself on a Schedule

For maximum spiritual benefit, set aside ample time to be alone with the Lord. Listen for His leading. The more time you spend with Him, the more meaningful your fast will be.

Morning

5 a.m. - 8 a.m.
  • Fruit juices, preferably freshly squeezed or blended and diluted in 50 percent distilled water if the fruit is acid. If you cannot do your own juicing, buy juices without sugar or additives.
** Apple, pear, grapefruit, papaya, watermelon, or other fruit juices are generally preferred.

10:30 a.m. - noon
  • Fresh vegetable juice made from lettuce, celery, and carrots in three equal parts.
General Morning
  • Begin your day in praise and worship. Nothing sets the stage and gets us into the presence of God faster than praising him.
  • As instructed in Philippians 2:13, invite the Holy Spirit “to work in you to will and to do His good pleasure.”
  • Pray and ask Him to show you how to influence your world, your family, your church, your community, your country, and beyond – as it pertains to your overall prayer & fasting goal
  • Pray for His vision for your life and power to do His will.

Noon

2:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Decaffeinated Herb tea with a drop of honey.
**Avoid black tea or any tea with caffeine.

General Noon - Afternoon
  • Return to prayer and to the Word.
  • Take a short walk while praying
  • Spend time in intercessory prayer for your community, state and nation's leaders, that God would guide them
  • Pray for the world's unreached millions
  • Pray for your family
  • Pray for your co-workers
Evening
  • Get alone for an unhurried time of "seeking His face."
  • If others are fasting with you, meet together for prayer and reading appropriate scriptures from the Word
  • Avoid television or any other distraction that may dampen your spiritual focus.
When possible, begin and end each day on your knees, with your spouse, if applicable, for a time of praise, prayer and thanksgiving to God.

Tips on Juice Fasting
  • Drinking fruit juice will decrease your hunger pains and give you some natural sugar energy. The taste and lift will motivate and strengthen you to continue.
  • The best juices are made from fresh watermelon, lemons, grapes, apples, cabbage, beets, carrots, celery, or leafy green vegetables. In cold weather, you may enjoy a warm vegetable broth.
  • Mix acidic juices (orange and tomato) with distilled water for your stomach's sake.
Things to Avoid
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks.
  • Avoid chewing gum or mints (even if your breath is bad) They stimulate digestive action in your stomach.
Ending Your Fast

When your designated time for fasting is finished, you will begin to eat again. But how you break your fast is extremely important for your physical and spiritual well-being.

STEP 6: End Your Fast Gradually

First, ALWAYS end your fast during the day and never at night. This will aid in digestion and in spiritual orientation. Start to end the fast between daybreak and noon for best results.

Secondly, begin eating gradually and do not eat solid foods immediately after your fast. Suddenly reintroducing solid food to your stomach and digestive tract will likely have negative, even dangerous, consequences. Try several smaller meals or snacks each day. If you end your fast gradually, the beneficial physical and spiritual effects will result in continued good health.
Here are some suggestions to help you end your fast properly:
  • Break an extended water fast with fruit such as watermelon.
  • While continuing to drink fruit or vegetable juices, add the following:
    First day: Add a raw salad.
    Second day: Add baked or boiled potato, no butter or seasoning.
    Third day: Add a steamed vegetable.
    Thereafter: Begin to reintroduce your normal diet.
  • Gradually return to regular eating with several small snacks during the first few days. Start with a little soup and fresh fruit such as watermelon and cantaloupe. Advance to a few tablespoons of solid foods such as raw fruits and vegetables or a raw salad and baked potato.
Expect Results and Keep On Praising Him!!

 

STEP 7: Expect Results

If you sincerely humble yourself before the Lord, repent, pray, and seek God's face; if you consistently meditate on His Word, you will experience a heightened awareness of His presence. As it is written in John 14:21: “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

The Lord will give you fresh, new spiritual insights. Your confidence and faith in God will be strengthened. You will feel mentally, spiritually, and physically renewed. You will see answers to your prayers.

Make Fasting a Part of Your Christian Life

A single fast, however, is not a spiritual cure-all. Just as we need fresh infillings of the Holy Spirit each day, we also need new times of fasting before God. A 24-hour fast each week has been greatly rewarding to many Christians.

It takes time to build your spiritual fasting muscles. If you fail to make it through your first fast, do not be discouraged. You may have tried to fast too long the first time out, or your may need to strengthen your understanding and resolve. As soon as possible, undertake another fast until you do succeed. God will honor you for your faithfulness.

Maintaining Spiritual Revival
  1. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any unconfessed sin in your life.
  2. Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you. Make restitution where God leads.
  3. Examine your motives in every word and deed. Ask the Lord to search and cleanse your heart daily.
  4. Ask the Holy Spirit to guard your walk against complacency and mediocrity.
  5. Praise and give thanks to God continually in all ways on all days, regardless of your circumstances.
Refuse to obey your carnal (worldy) nature!

As it is written in Galatians 5:16-17: “But I say, walk and live habitually in the Holy Spirit. Then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the Holy Spirit, and the desires of the Holy Spirit are opposed to the flesh; for these are antagonistic to each other, so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.
  1. Surrender your life to Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Develop utter dependence on Him with total submission and humility.
  2. Study the attributes of God.
  3. Hunger and thirst after righteousness.
Matthew 5:6 tells us to “Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous  are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be completely satisfied!
  1. “Love God with all of your heart, soul, and mind” (Matthew 22:37).
  2. Appropriate the continual fullness and control of the Holy Spirit by faith on the basis of God's command (Ephesians 5:18) and promise (1 John 5:14,15).
  3. Read, study, meditate on, and memorize God's holy, inspired, inerrant Word daily (Colossians 3:16).
  4. Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  5. Fast and pray one 24-hour period each week. Prayerfully consider becoming one of the two million Christians who will fast for forty days before the end of the year 2012.
  6. Seek to share Christ daily as a way of life.
  7. Determine to live a holy, godly life of obedience and faith.
  8. Start or join a home or church Bible study group that emphasizes revival and a holy life.
We encourage you to join us in fasting and prayer until we truly experience revival in our homes, our churches, our beloved nation, and in the entire body of Christ!

May The Blood of Jesus cover, bless & protect you!
~Mark 

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