Jesus calls by His written word, by circumstances, and by the believers witness, to catch the attention of our heart. He calls the sinner to salvation but also calls his people to deeper fellowship. The word eat or "sup" used here is a covenant word that would mean we bring all we have to the table. His richness and grace will make an unforgettable feast no matter how poor in spirit we may be. We can enjoy fellowship with each other at his invitation through our simple acceptance of His grace. Many Christians have the view that fasting is going without eating and has to do with praying, but few seem to understand much about what it really is or why Christians should participate in fasting. I pray as you read these words, you will hear Jesus saying, "here I am" and you will open your heart to gain a new vision for fasting and your spiritual journey. Set the table with what you have, He will bring all the rest.
Most religions believe in some form of fasting, but Christianity is a life changing relationship, not a meaningless religious tradition. Any relationship requires fellowship. Imagine the best friend you have right now. No mater how well you "hit it off" at first, you became close to each other over a period of time through fellowship. You cannot have a deep relationship with another person without spending time together. Taking the time to get to know each other and to truly care for one another is essential and becomes a joy. As the relationship grows you enjoy being together more and want to spend more time together. That is how it should be with a best friend, and fasting can lead us into a deeper relationship with Christ.
In a recent national survey conducted by Barna Research Group, a majority of Americans claim to be “deeply spiritual” and say that their religious faith is “very important” in their life. Yet only 15% of those who regularly attend a Christian church said their relationship with God is the top priority in their life, indicating something else has their allegiance. Fasting is more than not eating, it is having a deep desire to have fellowship with God. The book of Joel has a "gracious invitation" to bring us closer to God by convincing us of our sins with humility, and to correct our allegiance back to Him. Because of our sin, God allows us to go through trials that he may bring us to repentance and so bring us back to Him. He wants us not to rend our clothes as a religious outward appearance to repentance, but he wants our hearts truly broken that we have a true inward change, resulting in deeper fellowship with Him.
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.
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and
purify your hearts, you double-
If we are to come to the fellowship table with God, we must be willing to wash our hands of the sin that binds us. We cannot be a servant to God and be a slave to sin at the same time. When we come near to God, it is with a heart not divided between God and the world. We must not deceive ourselves by going through the motions of religious tradition.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
In this parable the Pharisee makes reference to fasting twice a week. This was a religious act in the tradition that the Pharisees believed Moses went up on Mt. Sinai to receive the Law on a Thursday, and returned with it on a Monday; therefore, fasting on those two days, Monday and Thursday, would be an act of holiness. Later in church history Christians began fasting twice a week, but chose Wednesday and Friday, so as not to be confused with the religious tradition of the Pharisees. The issue here is not the outward action, but the heart that takes action.
God could see the hearts of both men who approached Him in the parable. He also knows our hearts and He wants to help us in our weaknesses.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
In the story of Saul's conversion we see two men going through a time of seeking God. We can see them both having a change of heart, one setting aside the deception of religious tradition, the other setting aside his fear. Saul would have been accustomed to fasting as a religious act, and yet this time fasting would bring him into the presence of the true God.
Acts 9: 1-
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
This set of events changed your life, my life, and millions of other lives. You don't know what a faithful heart will be used for.
I love military history. One of my favorite military leaders is General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, a Confederate officer in the Civil War. He was one of the most evangelistic officers I have read about, and he had a vision to teach the children about Jesus. Three black churches were started from his Bible class for children. One church in Virginia is still standing today and has a stained glass window of General Jackson on his knees praying. The pastor installed this window in 1906 to commemorate the man who introduced so many blacks to Jesus. His father was one of the children in Jackson's Sunday school class.You may not see what God does with your heart on this side of eternity, but are you willing to give everything over to Him?
"God wants you to have a closer relationship to Himself than receiving His gifts, He wants you to get to know Him … Nothing is easier than getting into a right relationship with God except when it is not God Whom you want but only what He gives."
My Utmost For His Highest
God wants us to have an appetite for Him. When we are hungry it is natural to try to satisfy that hunger, but the wrong appetite can never be satisfied.
Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.
When we have an appetite for a relationship with God our hunger will drive us towards Him. In the same way, when our appetite is for sin, our hunger will drive us away from Him.
The laborer's appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on.
God wants us to enjoy food, but it is far more important to enjoy His fellowship.
A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?
In the same way, if our appetite is focused on food, our hunger may cause us to miss what God is saying to us.
Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
In the fourth chapter of John it is recorded that Jesus was ministering to a woman at the well, while the disciples missed the point by being driven by their appetite for food. They did not understand what Jesus was doing with the woman, nor did they understand there would soon be many others which to give witness. Fasting should be an opportunity to give our attention to the will of God. When we take control of our physical appetite we can find discipline to control our other appetites. We may never know what we have missed by choosing to follow the wrong appetite.
The word used for "fast" in the Old Testament refers to self-
Fasting can be done by abstaining from food and drink for one meal, for twenty-
1 Corinthians 7:4-
The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same
way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not
deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote
yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because
of your lack of self-
The important thing is the discipline of your heart. Eight hours of sleep is not a successful fast. Not eating baked goods in order to lose weight is not a fast, it's a diet. The only benefit you may reap is weight loss. Your attitude, your heart, and your appetite is what God is interested in. Remember the words of Isaiah:
“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? 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? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 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, 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.
When you invite guests for dinner, you prepare a menu and know how many places to set at the table. The discipline of fasting will be easier and more enjoyable, if you make a few decisions ahead of time. To start with, you should decide how long you will fast. If you have never fasted before, you can start out small and work your way into a longer fast. Next, decide what you will deny yourself. I think the discipline of going without food is a rewarding way to fast, but people who are not able to go long periods of time without nourishment are no less fasting by denying themselves certain foods, television, or other things that they typically enjoy. The important thing is your heart. Decide what the focus of your fast will be, such as breaking a sin or a habit, making a decision, completing a goal or task, etc. An excellent example of this is found in the story of Esther.
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
When you have important decisions that need to be made, gather any materials you may need to help you seek God's direction, such as Christian books, financial records, etc. Get as many facts together as possible.
Proverbs 24: 3-
By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers.
You don't need to ask God about things that are contrary to the Scriptures. As you pray and work through the information for a godly solution, yield your problem to God's sovereignty. Make certain you have solid biblical principles.
2 Timothy 3:16-
All Scripture is God-
Finally, decide to commit to be faithful. As you commit to be faithful, Satan will
commit to stop you from gaining a deeper fellowship with God. You may get ideas about
how hungry you are, and seem more tempted than ever. You may be tempted to adjust
the length of your original commitment, thinking you've done enough. Your stomach
may growl, and you may have some discomfort on a prolonged fast. Satan may also talk
you into being grouchy, but that also is a decision you will have to make. Remember,
some may not be able to go a prolonged time without food, but their self-
Fasting is a way of seeking God for help with all of our concerns no matter how serious they may seem to us, or how trivial we may think they appear to Him.
It is important to remember that fasting is not a "can't miss" magical solution to our problems. God is not a Genie in an Aladdin's lamp. Although He does not limit us to three answered prayers, sometimes our prayers, even with fasting do not turn out the way we wanted. David fasted and prayed for seven days with the hope that God would spare his child. After pleading for the child and not getting the result he desired, his hope of healing was gone but David was able to draw strength from his relationship with God as he worshipped.
2 Samuel 12:15-
After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them. On the seventh day the child died. David's servants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, we spoke to David but he would not listen to us. How can we tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.” David noticed that his servants were whispering among themselves and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.” Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate. His servants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!” He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
In 1990 while I was on staff at a church in Gainesville, Florida, I met a man who drew a supernatural strength from the Lord. Richard Ward was the Captain of the Gainesville Police Department that was in charge of the Gainesville Student Murders investigation, now known as the "Gainesville Ripper". He came to me and said, "There is a serial killer on our streets and I don't have much time to catch him." He went on to say he had been diagnosed with cancer and the doctor gave him only another six months to live. This man had so much stress in his life most people would not have been able to keep going. He did not ask me to pray for healing. He did not ask for wisdom to catch the killer. He asked if I would teach him how to share his faith because he had never led anyone to Christ. He was more concerned about standing before the Lord without winning one person to Christ than he was about anything else. He took responsibility for shortening his life through smoking cigarettes for years before he was saved and resolved to whatever God had for him, whether life or death, for he too drew strength from God's divine power. We prayed each time we were together for healing, and he memorized the scriptures faithfully so that he would be able to lead someone to Christ before he died. I would jest with him to remember when we make a visit, they are prospects, not suspects. One night we went to a house where two people that were diagnosed with AIDS lived. They called the church prayer line while watching a worship service and the television ministry scheduled a visit for us. When we went inside the home I did my best to relate to these people, but the angry man looked at me and said, "You don't know what it is like to have a doctor tell you that you'll be dead in six months!"
My visitation ministry partner spoke up and said, "I do!" That night my detective friend got what he thought was the most important of his prayers answered. He led two people to Christ that night. In addition, he lived to see the killer, Danny Rolling, brought to justice. At the time I am writing this some sixteen years later, my friend Richard is still alive.
In 1985 my wife Victoria and I were starting an Evangelism Explosion outreach/visitation ministry in a Church in Leesburg, Florida. While we were there, one of the dedicated members had cancer and was not expected to live. She was a beautiful young woman of about 30 years old with a godly husband and a young son. The church prayed for her fervently, yet she ended up loosing her battle with cancer. In 1988 the Pastor of that church had resigned and dropped out of ministry. He came to our home and shared how after this woman died of cancer, many of the members continued to blame him, saying that he didn't have enough faith to see her healed. He went on to share how he had a difficult time preaching sometimes because he was having real doubts about God's Word. We have ministered to many discouraged pastors and are familiar with the lies Satan will tell people, even clergy, when prayers are not answered the way they want them to be.
We have the hope of our eternal future in such life and death circumstances, but must realize death is something everyone will eventually experience until the return of Christ. Sometimes God heals, but sometimes he does not.
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment
Maybe you have tried fasting before but it just didn't work. Perhaps you are in some kind of bondage such as a sin you do not want to do and you can't seem to find a way out. Satan lies to us and tries to convince us that we have no power over sin. God wants you to know the truth and He wants us to be free.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
We want God to remove the sin and trouble from our lives instantly. Sometimes it just doesn't work that way. God wants us to have the appetite to walk in His truth and know that He will empower us to do His will. No matter what you may be going through in life, God has made answers available to you, but you must enter into His presence to discover those answers.
I Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.
We cannot think fasting one time is going to solve every problem we have, or answer all our questions and give us direction. After the first British victory over the Germans during WWII Winston Churchill stated "This is not the end. This is not the beginning of the end. This is the end of the beginning."
If we want to see God working in our lives we must be faithful and persistent and realize the results will be on His timetable. Praying for God to do something in your life does not mean you won't be responsible to do anything.
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, `Grant me justice against my adversary.' “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, `Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!'” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
We are co-
1 Corinthians 3:5-
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.
This work would be incomplete without this final discussion on prayer since I do not know who may end up reading these pages. I grew up attending church regularly and believing in the power of prayer. Most of my life I thought God had this "spiritual scale" that He would weigh your life on. Depending on how the scale tipped, you might earn enough favor with God for answered prayer or to enter the gates of heaven. I thought like most people I had been a pretty good person and didn't see any reason why I couldn't get into heaven. I went door to door inviting people to be a part of what I thought was the "the true church of God." I was ordained in a cult known as Mormonism. Most Christians I talked with were afraid to engage in conversation with me while others just told me I was going to hell. God orchestrated circumstances that brought me to a place where I dropped out of the ministry of the Mormon Church and I began seeking to know what I should do about my church life. It was during this time of inactivity that three people invited my wife Victoria and me to attend church at First Baptist, Leesburg, Florida. There I met Charles Roesel, who would become my hero and my role model. Charles was the first Christian I met that told me Jesus loves Mormons too. Charles had a vision for me before I had one for myself. He loved me to Christ and I will forever love him and be grateful to God for that. There were many things I learned from Charles through the years, but the most important and life changing thing he taught me is that heaven is a free gift and it is not earned or deserved.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
I learned that man is a sinner and cannot save himself, and if I wanted to get to heaven by my good works all I had to do was be perfect.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Charles also told me God loves us no matter what, and I felt the love of Christ when I was near him. I was certain Charles knew a God I had never experienced.
1 John 4:8
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting
love; I have drawn you with loving-
Because he did not simply tell me I was going to hell, I was able to receive his words when he shared that I had a problem called sin and that sin could not be swept under Gods carpet.
Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished ...
For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son—both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.
The most exciting thing I learned was who Jesus Christ really is and what it means to Rick Robinson.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
I learned there was no "spiritual scale," and I had to have another way to get into heaven other than my good deeds being greater than my bad deeds. The gift is received only by faith.
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
If you have never asked Jesus Christ into your life to save you (that word "saved" means: rescued from certain death), pray this simple prayer in your heart.
Dear Lord Jesus...
I confess I am a sinner and cannot save myself...
I believe you died on the cross to pay for my sin to purchase a place for me in heaven that I could never obtain on my own...
Lord Jesus, come into my heart (the center of my very being) and be my Lord and my Savior...
And I will love you and serve you all the days of my life...
I now openly confess that I am saved...
Rescued from the penalty of sin...
Thank you Lord for saving me...
Use me to tell others about my decision...
That they too may be saved...
In Jesus' name...
If you prayed that prayer and sincerely meant it with your heart, then you are now saved (rescued from certain death). You need to get involved in a good Bible teaching church. If you need help with your decision, please let us know. If you are involved in a church already, let your pastor know about your decision; talk with him about New Testament baptism. If you don't have a church you can check out the following web site for links to churches you can trust in your area:
You may also contact us at:
Church Growth Associates Inc.
You may want to know if you should tell others you are fasting. Many people would answer that question with a simple and certain “no.” That answer is usually based on the biblical examples of the Pharisees boasting about their deeds.
You need to use good judgement on this issue. Someone sharing about a witnessing
situation can be a good influence and an encouragement to others. Watching a baptism
can be a great testimony, after all, that is what a baptism is. Why would it need
to be a covert operation when we fast, if it naturally comes up in conversation,
such as another believer inviting you to have lunch with them? As far as non-