Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Day 11-Focus on God through Prayer

Our church is in the midst of a 21-day Daniel Fast. I have to be honest with you. Yesterday, for whatever reason, was the toughest day for me. I CRAVED a whopper from Burger King ALL DAY LONG. When we started this fast, I had determined in my heart that every time I craved something, or was hungry, it would serve as a nudge to PRAY. Needless to say, I prayed without ceasing yesterday. I woke up this morning, and that craving is gone, praise the Lord. I was really tempted to lose my focus. Because of that, I searched the Word of God to make sure that I was re-focused as I started out this day. I encourage you to do the same thing. That is why my blog is on PRAYING DURING THIS FAST. I found the following study helpful to me. I borrowed it from Author Paul Cook. I hope this information will minster to you. Please click on the Scriptures that are highlighted in blue and it will take you to that verse.

To fast is to abstain from certain foods and/or drinks for a specific period of time. Christian fasting is primarily a tool by which we humble ourselves before God, by subjugating the flesh's will to the spirit's will in reverence to God. Jesus demonstrated a classic example of this when he fasted for 40 days in the wilderness prior to facing the devil in temptation (Luke 4:1-2). The Bible's many examples of fasts suggest that fasting was an important part of a person's walk with God and ministry. The Apostle Paul mentioned he fasted often during his ministry (2 Corinthians 11:27).

Purposes and examples of fasts in the Bible

Breakthroughs for Guidance:

  • Strategic breakthroughs and specific direction from the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2-3; Acts 9:1-19)
  • Ezra proclaims fast to humble themselves, seek guidance and protection (Ezra 8:21); God answers their prayers in Ezra 8:23.

Confession and repentance:

  • Daniel fasts and prays, confessing sin and asking mercy from God, forgiveness for Israel's sins and restoration of Jerusalem. His prayers are answered and Gabriel comes to give Daniel wisdom (Daniel 9)
  • Nehemiah prays and fasts for many days, confessing Israel's sin and asks the Lord for the favor of the King (Nehemiah 1:4)
  • The people confess their corporate sin to God prior to renewing the covenant (Nehemiah 9:1-2).
  • Ezra fasts and confesses corporate sin of Israel (Ezra 9:3-15)
  • Israel repents from sin before Samuel and fasts at Mizpah (1 Samuel 7:6)
  • People of Ninevah fast in repentance to avert the prophesied destruction (Jonah 3:5-10). God relents.

Humbling oneself before God:

  • David prays for enemies who are sick, explaining, "But as for me, when they were sick, My clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; And my prayer would return to my own heart" (Psalm 35:13 NKJV).
  • David fasts and weeps for his son in case God may spare him (2 Samuel 12:16,21-23)
  • King Ahab humbles himself before God by fasting, wearing sackcloth and mourning in 1 Kings 21:25-29. God relents, sparing Ahab of calamity (28).
  • Chasten the soul (Discipline or purify): Psalm 69:10
  • People of Ninevah fast in repentance to avert the prophesied destruction (Jonah 3:5-10). God relents.


  • The Jews fast and pray after they learn of Haman's plan to exterminate them (Esther 4:2-4).
  • (& Guidance) Ezra holds prayer and fasting to humble themselves before God, and to seek the right way to travel from Him. God answered their prayers (Ezra 8:21-23).
  • Jehoshaphat proclaims fast when he learns of a large army coming from Syria to attack (2 Chronicles 20:2-4)

Spiritual strengthening, exerting the spirit's will over flesh's will:

  • Jesus fasted for 40 days prior to facing the devil in temptation (Luke 4:1-2)
  • Certain demons only can be routed through prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21)

Types of Fasts

  • Full (no food or water): Saul (Paul) for 3 days (Acts 9:9); Esther for 3 days (Esther 4:16)
  • Vegetables & water: Daniel ate only vegetables & water for 10 days (Daniel 1:12)
  • Food only: Jesus in Luke 4:1-2 ate nothing for 40 days; mighty men mourned Saul's death 7 days (1 Samuel 31:13); David pleading for mercy on his son 7 days (2 Samuel 12:16-22)
  • Day long (unspecified): resolution of conflict between Benjamin and rest of Israel's tribes (Judges 20:26); repentance (1 Samuel 7:6); Israel mourning Saul's death (2 Samuel 1:12)

How to Fast:

  • Identify the purpose, type and duration of the fast
  • Combine it with prayer: widow serving God in the temple (Luke 2:37); Cornelius (Acts 10:30); Elders sent out (Acts 14:22-24); Saul and Barnabas sent out (Acts 13:3)
  • Pray as a spiritual sacrifice during the times you would normally eat
  • At times, when your spouse agrees, you refrain from sex during a fast: "Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer" (1 Corinthians 7:5 NKJV)
  • Forego comfort: Ahab tore clothes and wore sackcloth (1 Kings 21:27 NKJV); Ezra tore garment and plucked out hair; prayed on his knees w/hands spread out in confession (Ezra 9:3-15); Nehemiah wore sackcloth and put ashes on head (Nehemiah 9:1)
  • Express appropriate actions of feeling: Ezra prayed on his knees w/hands spread out to God in confession (Ezra 9:3-15); Nehemiah wept and mourned in prayer (Nehemiah 1:4); Mordecai wept, wailed and lay in sackcloth and ashes (Esther 4:1-2); David wept his son (2 Samuel 12:16-22)
  • Do it sincerely, not pretentiously: Joel said to weep, mourn and rend your heart, not your garment (Joel 2:12-13); Don't fast in duplicity - modern example: fasting to seek guidance and to lose weight
  • Fast to be seen by God; not openly for man's approval (Mathew 6:16,18); not as a means to earn religious honor or respect among people (Luke 18:9-14); anoint your head and wash your face (Matthew 6:17), so that people don't realize you are fasting
  • In obedience: The purpose for a fast will be nullified by the continuation of sinful habits. God instructed the people, "Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother" (Zechariah 7:9-10 NKJV); cease oppression of poor and observe the Sabbath with pure and joyful worship, not pleasure seeking (Isaiah 58:6-14).

Determine today to PRESS ON, we have come to far to turn back now! YOU CAN MAKE IT! The enemy is fighting you for a reason. I believe GOOD THINGS are happening whether we see it or not! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR" Bible Reading: Wednesday, March 12, 2008-1 Kings 5:1 – I Kings 8:66

This week's Memory Verse to "hide in our heart": Luke 17:6

Luke 17:6 If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I am wanting a couple of gallons of Blue Bell ice cream and a 40 gallon bucket of rotel and velveta dip. But I am enjoying what God is doing more!


Beth said...

Pastor Rusty,
Your blog is always a blessing. During the fast, your messages have been a big encouragement for me. Yesterday was really bad for me food wise b/c I kept craving chicken, diet coke, and chocolate. But I kept praying and made it through one more day. I've even been thinking I am doing this right? Today's message was such a blessing. It was exactly what I needed. Thank you!

GRANNY J said...

Pastor Rusty:

Thank you for your words of encouragement. I am on Day #8 of the /Fast. I have had no problem with craving the sweets, the breads, the dairy and the meat. I have lost 4# since starting. PTL!

I have received word from my chiropractor, that I am needing another back surgery (the 3rd I have had) to repair a steel pin which has come loose in my lower back, which was placed there 3 years ago when I had my 2nd back surgery. I will be seeing the neurosurgeon next wed., the 19th as to what needs to be done & when. I would appreciate you & the church to remember me in prayer. I need strength to get through one more surgery, but am believing that God can intervene & fix it without the surgery.

Thank you and God bless you for the encouragement you give to me through this blog & to many others.

Give my daughter a big hug for me!!!

Granny J.