Today I start a new series entitled, “The Benefits of Prayer and Fasting,” under the banner of the overall series for the year: “Expectation.” My church is in the midst of a 30-day fast. Many churches fast in January for either 21 or 30 days. I have taught on prayer over the years, but I have not done much teaching on fasting. So, I asked God if I could do a series on prayer and fasting and He gave me the green light. I will start with Jesus.
Growing up, Jesus knew He was the Son of God, but He had the discipline to wait until the timing was right to walk in His divine assignment. In Jesus’ day, those ordained to be Priests could not serve until they were 30 years old. Jesus, who became our High Priest, waited until He was 30 to begin His ministry. When the time came, He was baptized by His cousin John the Baptist. During Jesus’ baptism He was filled with the Holy Spirit. The first act the Holy Spirit led Jesus to perform was a 40-day fast. The Bible says:
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
(see Luke 4 and Matthew 4)
So what does this mean to you today? Since I am introducing fasting to you today, I will share a few foundations nuggets.
- Fasting is clearly a New Testament practice. Jesus fasted in the New Testament and He expected us to fast as well. While talking to His disciples, He said, “When you fast…” (Mat 6:16), the implication being that He expected them (and us for that matter) to fast.
- Fasting pleases God. The Holy Spirit led Jesus to fast. The Holy Spirit will only lead you to do things that are pleasing to the Father. If we are led of the Holy Spirit, He will lead us concerning when and how to fast.
- Prior to being Born-Again, you were a natural being looking for spiritual experiences. But once you are Born-Again, you are a spiritual being having both spiritual and natural experiences, in this world. While the Holy Spirit will lead you to fast, to have a spiritual experience, your natural body will urge you to eat, as part of the natural requirements of this world. Fasting helps you to train your body to submit to your spirit. There is an internal battle between the leading of the spirit and the urges of your natural body. Fasting helps you win that battle.
- A couple of years ago I posted something on social media that was re-posted yesterday by a friend of mine. The point I made pertains to what I am teaching today and it is also pretty funny. So, I will share it again. I said: “Fasting is not really about resisting a tuna sandwich or a plate of cookies. Fasting is about learning how to say “NO” to the flesh. When you train your flesh to obey your spirit, and you can win the battle over a few cookies, then you won’t lose the battle when the stakes are much higher. Like when that man, who is NOT your husband, tries to get you to give up your COOKIES!”
- Jesus was tempted while He fasted. If Jesus was tempted, you can rest assured that you will be as well. Jesus responded to every temptation with the Word of God. This is how we should respond.
I will teach more on that last point tomorrow.
Father, this is a season of expectation for me. My time of Harvest is NOW! I prepare myself to receive supernatural harvest in this season. Part of my preparation is to train my soul to choose the leading of the Holy Spirit OVER the temptations of my flesh. This is why I fast. Fasting does not move you. Fasting moves me! Fasting prepares me to become the man/woman You birthed me to be. So I fast and pray. I submit to You in all things. I am led of Your Spirit. I fill my heart with Your Word. And I expect to experience Your best in 2018. I declare this by faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
This is Today’s Word. Apply it and prosper!