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Monday, September 24, 2012

Power and Purpose of Fasting & Prayer

If you want to strengthen your relationship with God, while deepening your faith, overcoming obstacles, combating attacks whether physical, spiritual or psychological, fasting is an extremely powerful vehicle to take you to the next level! The biblical evidence for fasting is overwhelming and the practice of fasting for Christ’s disciples wasn’t an option, but an expectation. Jesus was very specific in talking with and teaching His disciples about fasting.

In Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus teaches the disciples: “When 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.”

Notice that Jesus doesn’t say if you fast, he says when you fast…it was an expected activity for all the disciples – and for good reason.

To illustrate the importance, power and purpose of fasting, I’ll give a very personal, and recent, example from my (Mark) own testimony. About 5 months ago, God instructed me to start a strict water-only fast. There was no time frame or reason given to fast, just that I needed to be fasting. I started on Thursday and by Saturday night, after spending half days Thursday and Friday and all day Saturday in prayer, I was absolutely soaked in the Spirit. I went to church only to have three ministers come and pull me out of service to ask me if I’d go with them to a hospital to pray for a woman. I agreed and off we went to somewhere on South Beach. To this day I have no idea where I was. When we arrived at the designated floor of the facility and asked for the room of the patient we were told that they had been expecting us, which was strange because nobody knew that we were coming! I was ushered into a room where there was a woman of about 65 lying in the bed, with about 6-7 other people around the bed in a semi-circle type formation. As I approached the bed I could see that the woman was asleep. Without having any prior knowledge of what her condition was, I casually instructed those in the room that they didn’t have to wake her up, that if God was going to heal her He could do it just as easily with her asleep as awake. As I anointed her with oil I felt nothing out of the ordinary, but when I lay hands on her to pray for a healing, I was immediately and forcibly taken-a-back by a directive from her, but not from her mouth, telling me to ‘get my hands off her’. I knew that this was demonic.  I immediately released my hand from her head and took two steps back. The thing is, my hand had not been on her head for more than a second or a second and a half and I knew everything about her condition. I also knew that this was not going to be an ordinary prayer for healing (if there is such a thing)…but a deliverance from a demon of addiction! As I stepped back, I began to pray, asking God for guidance and…HELP! I spoke with God for about two or three minutes, that was all it took. I asked Him to help me because I had no clue what I was doing – you see, this was my first deliverance since my prodigal return. Then He reminded me that I did know. That I had seen Derek Prince do this 100 times in my living room as a teenager, along with my folks, Mahesh Chavda and others. He instructed me that I could even lay my hand back on her head, that she would do me no harm. He also instructed me not to yell and scream at the demon like the old days, but rather to speak softly and directly. God instructed me that demons take yelling as a sign of weakness…an overcompensation for a lack of confidence, which makes perfect sense when you think about it, even in the natural.

I approached the woman again, placed my hand on her head, leaned over so that I was almost whispering in her ear, and very softly said, “In the name and by the authority of Jesus Christ, I order you out of her now.” The woman immediately let out a groan that you could hear down the hall…and within 60-90 seconds was awake, the color returned to her face and she was sitting up and talking to people in the room, a little groggy, but otherwise like nothing had happened. All the people in the room were weeping unbelievably, sobbing uncontrollably with joy!

I had no idea of the incredible things that God had in store for me that night…but I was obedient, I had fasted when He told me to and He had stood by my side and fought with me when I needed Him most. It wasn’t until four days later, at an intercessory prayer group that I was running, that I found out that the woman had not been merely sleeping but had been in a comatose state ‘for years’. It turned out that one of the ministers at the foot of the bed was her brother, a prison minister here in Miami, who explained the whole situation to me that night. All I could do was cry. To think that God would use me, an ex-drug addict musician, a nothing of a human being…just because I was obedient to Him. THAT was why God had me  fasting - to prepare me to do Spiritual warfare! If I had not been fasting and not so thoroughly engulfed in the Holy Spirit of God, things might have very well turned out differently that night. I might have just freaked out. As it was, through God’s loving kindness and the power of Christ, the job was done and a life brought back from demonic rule and destruction. The feeling was and is totally exhilarating! What an awesomely incredible God we have that uses His children, to do His will!! Halalujah!

As we prepare to enter into our own 40-day period of fasting & prayer, be open to the possibilities that God has for you. Stay in the Word of God, pray and take in what He has for you. It's for you and nobody else but you.

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

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