14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”
15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. Matthew 9: 13-15
Most of the church considers fasting mostly to be about God answering our prayers, petitioning the heavenlies for divine intervention, and breaking strongholds. These are all legitimate views on fasting but there is one reason for fasting that is very Biblical and most often over-looked: we fast because we long for Jesus.
For weeks, I’ve been feeling a burden to fast. Not because I want something really badly and I assume fasting is the way to get it… I’m fasting because I want a burning heart… a heart longing for intimacy with Jesus.
My strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Most of us think of this verse as a way to feel better about our spiritual inadequacies, however, I believe that this verse is also talking about fasting. As we fast, embracing weakness in our bodies and minds, we are giving Holy Spirit room to invade our spirits as we cast aside our flesh and posture our hearts before the fire of God.
We are entering a time in history when our spirits need to be sharper than ever before. As false prophets and deceptive doctines infiltrate the church more and more, we have to have spirits that have been made strong through prayer and fasting to be able to hear and discern truth from the lies of the enemy. Fasting sharpens our senses and disciplines them, allowing us to draw closer as a confidant of God… one that He tells His secrets to.
I’m tired of feeling like I’m the only one in proximity to me that doesn’t have it all together. Some of you have to have some issues… I mean… right? You have problems, you make mistakes, you probably lie to yourself a lot as well… right? How does one be vulnerable from the heart about weakness and failure with someone who acts like they don’t have anything they need to work on?
How’s that for an emotional outburst? Fasting makes us crazy, I tell ya.
Last summer I was given a word that I had my finger on a particular country and that the Lord would be sending me there. She said she saw Jesus and He had this sheath at His side, where you would normally put a sword. She saw me inside the sheath and that it represented IHOP and that the Lord had me hanging out here until He was ready to draw me out.
Last night, day six of the fast I was in the prayer room late at around 11pm. I had been pacing most of the night, feeling the Lord wanting to speak to me about something while feeling a little bit antsy. I sat down and almost immediately felt the weight of the Spirit on me. I then had a vision of a man standing and at His side was a sword and he drew the sword out and held it in the air. The Lord then spoke to me and said “I keep my promises.” I knew I would be leaving IHOP in the somewhat near future. The time was drawing close.
I whipped out of that chair like a firecracker. I’m so not ready to leave this place. Jesus I’m scared! But as I calmed down I knew it was still at least a year off. I already have an idea of what the next assignment is that the Lord has me on. I believe it is one of two options that I have had rolling around in my head for awhile. I’m not ready to reveal those options yet. These two options have to do with a series of prophetic dreams the Lord has given me over this past year.
I know that IHOP is my wilderness season and that is what I am here for. To meet God in the wilderness and be made whole and perfected in love. This fast in particular is crucial to the places God is taking me to. I am so grateful for His perfect leadership in my life.
Misty has a message that I have been repeatedly listening to on this fast where she speaks about reminding herself over and over that when she fasts… it’s not about trying to prove something to herself or anyone else but it is ALL about love.
This rings true in my heart for the next 35 days. When I feel like I might die or the lusts of my flesh continue to rise up in me… I’m doing this for love. I’m doing this to be perfected in love. To know His love that surpasses understanding. To know Him and be known by Him.
When the Pharisees questioned Jesus and asked Him the reason why John’s disciples fasted but Jesus’ did not, He responded “Can you make the friends of the Bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.” I am doing this because He has not returned to the earth yet and this is one way I can be with Him where He is.
It is a beautiful thing.
I am having an extremely awkward morning. My morning actually started with my last night. I couldn’t sleep. All night I was tossing and turning, panicking over the fact that I feel that the Lord wants me to join a fasting team.
I hate fasting… yet I also love it… yet I still don’t want to do it… yet I kind of do at the same time. I guess more than anything, I have a fear of failure. Story of my life. You can’t really FAIL at fasting but I want to be good at it so that I can grow and mature and have a heart alive in God. And I know that if none of these things are happening, than life is completely pointless. I guess that’s what fasting teams are about. To encourage each-other as we press in deeper.
The next most awkward thing that has happened this morning is that I somehow misplaced my make-up bag. I think I may have left it in a certain bathroom on the base. It’s hot pink, if anyone sees it. Maybe I’m over-spiritualizing things but it could be that the Lord might be using this scenario to do other things in my heart. I just feel weird without my make-up but I know I shouldn’t. Deep, I know.
The third most awkward thing is the awkwardness I felt in the coffee shop today. Leaders are scary. They’re just scary and I can’t figure out why. I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m just as guilty as they are so why do I always feel weird around them? I need to discuss with Mandy why I probably need inner healing because of the obvious awkwardness with leaders… just writing this makes me feel awkward.
Okay… enough of the awkwardness.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers. 4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.–Isaiah 58
This coincides with the whole “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” deal. We can strive to make ourselves feel holy when we go without food but at the same time are we gossiping and bickering with others in the body of Christ? Are we being selfish and careless about other’s feelings? Are we giving generously? These are the things that the Lord desires from us.
Since I’ve spoken with my Aunt I can’t help but shake this urgency that I’ve been feeling. There are soooo many people that are totally unprepared for what is going to happen on this earth. That’s why I think this fast is so great. It’s uncovering all of this hidden sin in our lives and preparing us to be without offense when it all comes down. But there are so many out there that are already offended by this message and we have got to pray for them! I’ve learned that there is nothing I can say to them apart from the Spirit of God prompting me. If they only knew how merciful He was and how much He longed for them to know Him intimately. If they only knew their destiny in Him. Jesus tenderize their hearts and break up the fallow ground! Pluck them out of darkness. Let those who are now lost be found again!
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments, Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing– Joel 2:13-14