Learn About Fasting and Prayer
"I humbled my soul with fasting." - King David / Psalm 35.13
As we begin this new year let's make it our priority to humble ourselves before the Lord in corporate prayer and fasting. This allows us to remove the noise and distraction that so easily drowns out God's voice and leading in our lives.
James gives us a clear and compelling course of action to ensure our hearts are not divided and our affections are focused correctly of God. The tendency of our gaze is to become blurry and fixed on the world's ways and systems, by humbling ourselves before the Lord, as James encourages, we can remain clear in vision and focused on the things of God. The best way to humble ourselves is to combined deep prayer with extended fasting.
Deep prayer leads to repentance and a heart that is singularly focused on pleasing and serving God. Extended fasting humbles our flesh and reveals the things we are enslaved to and distracted by.
James 4.7-10 NLT
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
We accomplish this in multiple ways:
1. Fasting Food
A major part of this spiritual activity is fasting from food. By not eating we allow our physical hunger to reveal our spiritual need for Jesus, who is the Bread of Life.
2. The Off Button
The TV, computer, xbox, etc. remain off. Surfing the web or engaging in social media for a brief time is stopped. By doing this we give new room and focus to the leading of God in our lives.
3. Deep Prayer and Repentance
By giving time to prayer and listening, God will do the deep heart surgery required to bring lasting change and renewed focus.
4. Extended Reading and Study of the Bible
Taking in large amounts of God's word bring faith and a deeper awareness of God's working in and through our daily lives.
The weakness of our hunger for God is not because He is unsavory, but because we keep ourselves stuffed with "other things".
Let me encourage you to join us wholeheartedly in this season of focused prayer and fasting.
If you need help getting started I want to commend this article written by Dr. Bill Bright. It is thorough and practical regarding extended periods of prayer and fasting. Let me challenge and encourage each of you to join with us as we humbly seek God in January.
"I believe the power of fasting as it relates to prayer is the spiritual atomic bomb that our Lord has given us to destroy the strongholds of evil and usher in a great revival and spiritual harvest around the world."
7 BASIC STEPS TO PRAYER AND FASTING
How to Begin Your Fast
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.
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 prayer fast. This will enable you to pray more specifically and strategically.
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. Make this a priority in your fasting.
STEP 2: Make Your Commitment
Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake. Jesus implied that all of His followers should fast (Matthew 6:16-18; 9:14,15) For Him it was a matter of when believers would fast, not if they would do it. Before you fast, decide the following up front:
* 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)
* What physical or social activities you will restrict
* 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
The very foundation of fasting and prayer is repentance. Unconfessed sin will hinder your prayers. Here are several things you can do to prepare your heart:
* Ask God to help you make a comprehensive list of your sins.
* Confess every sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and accept God's forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
* Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3,4).
* Make restitution as the Holy Spirit leads you.
* Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit according to His command in Ephesians 5:18 and His promise in 1 John 5:14,15.
* Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master; refuse to obey your worldly nature (Romans 12:1,2).
* Meditate on the attributes of God, His love, sovereignty, power, wisdom, faithfulness, grace, compassion, and others (Psalm 48:9,10; 103:1-8. 11-13).
* Begin your time of fasting and prayer with an expectant heart (Hebrews 11:6).
* Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit (Galatians 5:16,17).
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.
While You 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, 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.
* Begin your day in praise and worship.
* Read and meditate on God's Word, preferably on your knees.
* Invite the Holy Spirit to work in you to will and to so His good pleasure according to Philippians 2:13.
* Invite God to use you. Ask Him to show you how to influence your world, your family, your church, your community, your country, and beyond.
* Pray for His vision for your life and empowerment to do His will.
* Return to prayer and God's Word.
* Take a short prayer walk.
* Spend time in intercessory prayer for your community's and nation's leaders, for the world's unreached millions, for your family or special needs.
* Get alone for an unhurried time of "seeking His face."
* If others are fasting with you, meet together for prayer.
* 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 for a brief time of praise and thanksgiving to God. Longer periods of time with our Lord in prayer and study of His Word are often better spent alone.
A dietary routine is vital as well. Dr. Julio C. Ruibal - a nutritionist, pastor, and specialist in fasting and prayer - suggests a daily schedule and list of juices you may find useful and satisfying. Modify this schedule and the drinks you take to suit your circumstances and tastes.
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. Apple, pear, grapefruit, papaya, watermelon, or other fruit juices are generally preferred. If you cannot do you own juicing, buy juices without sugar or additives.
10:30 a.m. – noon
Fresh vegetable juice made from lettuce, celery, and carrots in three equal parts.
2:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Herb tea with a drop of honey. Avoid black tea or any tea with caffeine.
6 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Broth made from boiling potatoes, celery, and carrots with no salt. After boiling about half an hour, pour the water into a container and drink it.
Tips on Juice Fasting
* Drinking fruit juice will decrease your hunger pains and give your 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 water for your stomach's sake.
* Avoid caffeinated drinks. And avoid chewing gum or mints, even if your breath is bad. They stimulate digestive action in your stomach.
Breaking 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
Begin eating gradually. 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 is 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.
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 (John 14:21). 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 refreshed. You will see answers to your prayers.
A single fast, however, is not a spiritual cure-all. Just as we need fresh infillings of the Holy Spirit daily, 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.
I encourage you to join me in fasting and prayer again and again until we truly experience revival in our homes, our churches, our beloved nation, and throughout the world.
Daniel Fast Menu Items
Foods to include in your diet during the Daniel Fast
Please make sure to READ THE LABEL when purchasing packaged, canned or bottled foods. They should be sugar-free and chemical-free. Keep this in mind as you review this list of acceptable foods.
All fruits. These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned. Fruits include but are not limited to apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, figs, grapefruit, grapes, guava, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemons, limes, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, prunes, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, tangelos, tangerines, watermelon
All vegetables. These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned. Vegetables include but are not limited to artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chili peppers, collard greens, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, ginger root, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, onions, parsley, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, scallions, spinach, sprouts, squashes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, yams, zucchini, veggie burgers are an option if you are not allergic to soy.
All whole grains, including but not limited to whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, oats, barley, grits, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat tortillas, rice cakes and popcorn.
All nuts and seeds, including but not limited to sunflower seeds, cashews, peanuts, sesame. Also nut butters including peanut butter.
All legumes. These can be canned or dried. Legumes include but are not limited to dried beans, pinto beans, split peas, lentils, black eyed peas, kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans, white beans.
All quality oils including but not limited to olive, canola, grape seed, peanut, and sesame.
Beverages: spring water, distilled water or other pure waters.
Other: tofu, soy products, vinegar, seasonings, salt, herbs and spices.
Foods to avoid on the Daniel Fast
All meat and animal products including but not limited to beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and fish.
All dairy products including but not limited to milk, cheese, cream, butter, and eggs.
All sweeteners including but not limited to sugar, raw sugar, honey, syrups, molasses, and cane juice.
All leavened bread including Ezekiel Bread (it contains yeast and honey) and baked goods.
All refined and processed food products including but not limited to artificial flavorings, food additives, chemicals, white rice, white flour, and foods that contain artificial preservatives.
All deep fried foods including but not limited to potato chips, French fries, corn chips.
All solid fats including shortening, margarine, lard and foods high in fat.
Beverages including but not limited to coffee, tea, herbal teas, carbonated beverages, energy drinks, and alcohol.
Remember, READ THE LABELS!
How to Experience and Maintain Personal 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.
6. Refuse to obey your carnal (worldly) nature (Galatians 5:16,17).
7. Surrender your life to Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Develop utter dependence on Him with total submission and humility.
8. Study the attributes of God.
9. Hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6).
10. Love God with all of your heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37).
11. Appropriate the continual fullness and control of the Holy Spirit by faith on the basis of God's command (Ephesians 5:18) and promise (1John 5:14,15).
12. Read, study, meditate on, and memorize God's holy, inspired, inerrant Word daily (Colossians 3:16).
13. Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
14. 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 2000.
15. Seek to share Christ daily as a way of life.
16. Determine to live a holy, godly life of obedience and faith.
17. Start or join a home or church Bible study group that emphasizes revival and a holy life.
Six Vital Questions About Prayer Q: What Is Prayer?
Simply put, prayer is communicating with God. Real prayer is expressing our devotion to our heavenly Father, inviting Him to talk to us as we talk to Him.
Q: Who Can Pray?
Anyone can pray, but only those who walk in faith and obedience to Christ can expect to receive answers to their prayers.
Contact with God begins when we receive Jesus into our lives as Savior and Lord (John 14:6). Praying with a clean heart is also vital to successful prayer. We cannot expect God to answer our prayers if there is any unconfessed sin in our life or if we are harboring an unforgiving spirit (Psalm 66:18; Mark 11:25). For God to answer our prayers, we must have a believing heart and ask according to His will (Matthew 9:29; 21:22; 1 John 5:14,15).
Q: Why Are We to Pray?
God's Word commands us to pray (Luke 18:1; Acts 6:4; Mark 14:38; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2; 1 Timothy 2:1,2).
We pray to have fellowship with God, receive spiritual nurture and strength to live a victorious life, and maintain boldness for a vital witness for Christ.
Prayer releases God's great power to change the course of nature, people, and nations.
Q: To Whom Do We Pray?
We pray to the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. when we pray to the Father, our prayers are accepted by Jesus Christ and interpreted to God the Father by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26, 27,34).
Q: When Should We Pray?
God's Word commands us to "Pray continually" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We can be in prayer throughout the day, expressing and demonstrating our devotion to God as we go about our daily tasks.
It is not always necessary to be on our knees, or even in a quiet room to pray. God wants us to be in touch with Him constantly wherever we are. We can pray in the car, while washing the dishes, or while walking down the street.
Q: What Should We Include in Our Prayers?
Although prayer cannot be reduced to a formula, certain basic elements should be included in our
communication with God: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication (ACTS).
To adore God is to worship and praise Him, to honor and exalt Him in our heart and mind and with our lips.
When our discipline of prayer begins with adoration, the Holy Spirit has opportunity to reveal any sin in our life that needs to be confessed.
An attitude of thanksgiving to God, for who He is and for the benefits we enjoy because we belong to Him, enables us to recognize that He controls all things - not just the blessings, but the problems and adversities as well. As we approach God with a thankful heart, He becomes strong on our behalf.
Supplication includes petition for our own needs and intercession for others. Pray that your inner person may be renewed, always sensitive to and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Pray for others - your spouse, your children, your parents, neighbors, and friends; our nation and those in authority over us. Pray for the salvation of souls, for a daily opportunity to introduce others to Christ and to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.