Compiled By S. E. Ray

Any soul who has been a devout Christian for over 20 years will agree that there has been a progressive departure from the fundamental teachings of Christendom. Prophecy speaks of a spiritual falling away before the revealing of the man of perdition (anti-christ). While genuine remnants of the passionate few can be found scattered abroad, as a whole, the church universal has become Laodicean.

"For you say, 'I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.' You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked." Rev. 3:17-18. The Laodicean church model is unable to recognize its spiritual bankruptcy because of plenty. Scripture speaks of this state of unawareness as "they were blind and could not see." The free world church has an abundance of learning materials, financial resources, church buildings, new church plants, programs, organizations, missions... but the valued essential of spiritual depth is often missing.

Does this sound critical? God's Spirit wrote through John saying, "he (Christ) will remove their lamp stand." Rev. 1:20, meaning Christís Spirit would depart from a church and leave them to flounder on their own if they refused to repent. Unconditional security despite negligence is never taught in scripture as it is sometimes promoted today. A church still can succeed by world standards, grow by the thousands and prosper financially, but lack God's genuine Holy Spirit presence.

World-wide evangelical churches that still have the flame like Time Square Church in New York constantly receive thousands of letters from believers desperately seeking for a church with God's presence. Likewise, pastors by the hundreds share their emptiness in letters of dismay and some eventually forsake their calling for lack of spiritual direction and support.

Why is this? Why have we not seen any genuine wide-sweeping revivals in the past several decades? There have been several false revivals like the Toronto Movement, but nothing manifest of God's spirit. It is not that difficult to pinpoint. Many Christians today are walking without God's power. They try to do the right things, say the right things and go through the motions, but have no 'dynamis" spiritual power.

Christians are called to operate in the power of the Holy Spirit. Luke 24:49. "Look, I am sending forth upon you that which is promised by my Father. You, though, abide in the city until you become clothed with power from on high." Greek word for power δύναμις (dynamis) is a deriverative of the word we use for dynamite. When His spirit dwells in you fully, you will radiate with power and people will take notice.

A big part of the problem lies in the fact that many new Christians have never been introduced to the basic essentials of the Christian walk. If discipleship does exist, it is sometimes so watered down, it offers little direction. They could attend church for ten years and never hear a message on fasting. Prayer is sometimes spoken of, but there is essentially no example given short of the ritualistic, "God, forgive us, help us and bless us" church prayers. You can find God's will for your walk with a little direction.

Prayer and fasting is a personal and intimate growth process that requires devout labor. Accepting Christ as Lord is often chosen as a fire escape instead of a life's journey. Sometimes people accept Christ to belong to a group of people for personal support. Others become a Christian to maintain family tradition. What was your motivation? If you are not being moved to seek the deeper things of God, as a deer pants for fresh water (Psalms 42:1), you may need to take inventory of your spiritual position and condition. The Holy Spirit dwelling naturally results in a hunger and thirst for spiritual growth!

In the late 1970's, the late great Jerry Falwell published a small booklet for his students at Liberty University. It is one of the rare manuscripts that has no equal when searching for the essentials on prayer and fasting. It never was published as a book for the public. I have carried the booklet faithfully for over 20 years as a companion resource next to my bible. He called it, "God's Plan for Prayer and Fasting". Below are excerpts from the booklet, content that is very important to read and understand. I do pray that you will consume this rare resource as I have for the honing of your spiritual life!

If you have medical conditions, seek your doctor's counsel before beginning this spiritual discipline.
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The Bibilical Teaching Regarding Fasting
Written by Dr. Jerry Falwell

Until recently, there has been considerable confusion about fasting. Some women's magazines have suggested fasting for dieting. Others have advocated fasting for physical benefits. A few people have done fanatical things when they fasted. We must be careful of such sensationalism. None of these represents the Bible's teaching on fasting.

On the other hand, many Christians have said little or nothing about fasting. They have ignored fasting completely. As a result, they have been robbed of the blessings which result from fasting coupled with prayer. This outline explains the biblical teaching on fasting. Only as a person follows the Word of God can he fast within the will of God.

Kinds of Fasting

The typical fast. The Bible teaches that normal fasting means totally refraining from solid food. The typical fast mentioned in the Bible did not involve abstinence from liquids. When Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness, we read, "He was afterward an hungered" (Matthew 4:2). Scripture does not mention that He was thirsty. It would be a physical impossibility to fast 40 days with no liquid intake. Most scholars of the Bible believe that Jesus drank water in the wilderness, but He did not eat food.

The complete fast. The complete fast, also called an absolute fast, involves no food or water (Acts 9:9). This is a severe fast and can be dangerous. A person should not begin fasting on a complete fast for more than one day. Also, if a person has a serious health problem, he should consult his physician before engaging in a complete fast.

A partial fast. The partial fast has several applications and is distinguished by the things that can be eaten, and the frequency of eating. First, the partial fast involves abstaining from certain foods. Some authorities interpret Daniel's actions as a partial fast (Daniel 1). Daniel and the young men of Israel were asked to eat from the Babylonian king's table; they declined. They did not want to defile themselves and asked for a ten-day test case. During that time, Daniel and the Israelites only drank water and ate pulse, a type of vegetable. They abstained from the meat and wine of the king's table (Daniel 1:12).

When this partial fast is used today, people abstain from certain aspects of their meal. On several occasions John Wesley ate only bread when he fasted. God may lead some people to abstain from certain foods as a test of their sincerity, especially when searching for a specific answer to prayer.

Second, the partial fast involves abstaining from food for a specific time period. Some fasts involve abstinence only during the daylight hours. A person would wait until after the sun had fallen to eat the evening meal. Actually, the partial fast involved half a day. The usual fast in the Old Testament began at sundown and extended to sundown the second day. When the partial fast was used, a person would abstain from food only during the daylight hours.

Third, the partial fast included abstinence from sexual relationships between husband and wife. Paul taught the husband and wife, "Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer" (I Corinthians 7:5a). Just as some people abstain from the enjoyment of eating food, so in the partial fast marriage partners abstain from martial relationships for a time. Paul exhorted, however, that when the fast is over the husband and wife are to "come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency" (I Corinthians 7:5b).

Length of Fast

Most often the fast in the Bible lasted only one day. It ranged from sunset the first day until sunset the following day. A person would not eat the evening meal after the sun went down; nor would he eat throughout the daylight hours of the following day. At sunset the second day food could again be eaten (Judges 20:26; I Samuel 14:24; II Samuel 1:12; 3:35). The Old Testament one-day fast followed the Jewish method of reckoning a day from sunset to sunset (Genesis 1:5,8,31).

On at least one occasion, a fast lasted only throughout the night (Daniel 6:18). Perhaps that fast did not last longer because Daniel was out of danger by the next morning. However, the king did fast throughout the night because his Jewish friend faced the perils of the lion's den.

Esther called for a fast of three days and three nights. This was a crisis situation in which Israel faced extinction (Esther 4:16).

Only three occasions mention the 40-day fast. Moses, Elijah, and Jesus each fasted for 40 days. On each occasion, God had a special message to reveal to His people. God does not use the fast to reveal special messages to us today. He speaks directly through His Word. But God does use the fast to prepare our hearts for service. Therefore, someone could be led to fast for longer than one day. Each person should be careful to follow the leading of the Lord as to the length of the fast.

How To Fast

Fasting is not merely abstaining from food. Many people do without food for health reasons, but they are not fasting biblically. Others fast because they want to lose weight. This is not biblical fasting either. Also, many people miss a meal because they are busy, but this is not fasting. Fasting involves prayer, repentance, and searching one's heart. Fasting involves the right reasons and biblical methods. The Old Testament describes fasting as "afflicting one's soul" (Isaiah 58:3). There must be a spiritual purpose to fasting if it is to be a testimony to God.

The Bible does not tell how often or how long we ought to fast. Nowhere are there specific regulations on fasting. Yet, this does not mean that fasting can be ignored. When a person feels a need in his Christian life, it is appropriate to fast. We can only assume that since all Christians have problems and difficulties, all Christians should fast at some time, but they should seek the will of God and fast in a voluntary manner.

Fasting shows the sincerity of our prayers. When we pray, God answers our prayers with regard to the sincerity of our faith. "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them" (Mark 11:24).

Like many of you, on numerous occasions I have dieted. Thus, I can testify that there is a big difference between dieting and fasting. When I am dieting, I use sweetener in my coffee instead of sugar. I muster the strength to say "no" to desserts. Although I do not like to diet, I find dieting much easier than fasting.

Why? Because fasting is a completely different experience. When I am fasting, it is for a spiritual purpose. I am either asking God to provide for a certain need, to give me guidance regarding a particular matter, or to help our ministry through a crisis period. When I commit myself not to eat anything for one day as a testimony to God, Satan also knows my commitment. He attacks me with all of the powers of hell. The desire to eat just one cheese sandwich becomes overwhelming. It is not because I am hungry, it is because Satan wants me to break my commitment. During a fast, every urging for food is intensified. Satan brings it to my attention. He wants to laugh in my face. But with Divine help, my commitment is kept.

Getting Ready To Fast

Determine the length of your fast. Do not enter a period of fasting without setting a time limit. You should fast for a specific period of time. I have often said to a young Christian that he should begin with one-day fasts. Then as he becomes proficient in using the fast to the glory of God, let him expand the length of the fast.

Begin by refraining from solid foods, but drink liquids. When Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights in the wilderness, He took liquids, although He did not eat solid food (Matthew 4:2). Perhaps at a later time you can increase the scope of your fast.

Plan to spend long periods of time in prayer. When one fasts, he should meditate and seek the face of God. He should not be hurried; he should not feel the compulsion of the clock. When a person fasts, he should enjoy fellowship with God.

Our prayer requests are not answered according to the amount of time we spend in prayer. But the child of God will want to spend much time in fellowship with his heavenly Father. The Christian becomes more conformed to the image of God as he communes with God in prayer.

Begin by repenting. David humbled himself before God. "When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach" (Psalm 69:10). If a person does not repent with the right attitude in his heart, his abstinence from food is useless. Repentence in part is a deep absolution to completely forsake or avoid pet sins and moves out from there. God warned Jeremiah, "When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them. . ." (Jeremiah 14:12).

Begin by searching out all of your sin. Make sure that you are in the proper relationship with God and that there is not hidden sin in your life. "Cleanse thou me from secret faults" (Psalm 19:12).

Some Christians become discouraged when they face their sins. No one wants to admit that he has failed. Yet the Bible teaches, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:8). To emphasize the point, the writer follows, "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (I John 1:10).

The first verse emphasizes the fact that we have a desire to sin; the second verse emphasizes the fact that we actually sin. After God points out our sin, He provides the remedy.

Ask for forgiveness. The next step in fasting is to ask for cleansing from sin. God's Word promises, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).

In the Old Testament, repentant sinners spent days begging God to forgive their sins. Under the law that was necessary. But we live under grace. God has promised to cleanse us when we ask His forgiveness. The basis of cleansing is not how long we pray. The basis of our cleansing is the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son (I John 1:7). Therefore, we should not be defeated or discouraged when we begin our fast. We should claim victory (I Corinthians 10:13; I John 5:4-6).

Pray continually for specific requests. The Bible teaches us to pray constantly. "Pray without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:17). During a time of fasting, set aside several periods during the day when you can pray to God for specific requests.

Since you are not eating, why not spend the time in prayer that you usually spend in eating. At each mealtime, pray for each request on your list.

We should pray in faith. "Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering" (James 1:6). This means that we know we have the answer before it comes about.

Some can ask once and get their requests because of their great faith, but in another sense, we should pray continually. Jesus commanded, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find, knock; and it shall be opened unto you" (Matthew 7:7). "Ask," "seek," and "knock" mean to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking. Because we know God will answer our prayers, we keep on praying.

Read large sections of Scripture. When a person fasts, he or she should double their daily Bible reading for that day. Perhaps he could read through an entire book of the Bible. Then he should study biblical topics or the doctrine of fasting. The Word of God will increase our faith (Romans 10:17) and become the basis of answered prayer (John 15:7; I John 3:23).

Select key verses to memorize. A person should memorize verses that become the basis for his prayers. Perhaps the verses he memorizes will become a stimulus for more faith in trusting God for the answers he seeks.

Fast and worship God. The very abstinence from food could be an indication of one's dedication to God. If a person's heart attitude is right when he fasts, he is worshipping God. Anna served God through her prayers and daily fasting. "And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day" (Luke 2:37).

We worship and magnify Him. One of the best ways to magnify God is to contemplate His greatness and power. Just the consideration of God and His attributes is an act of worship.

Another way to worship God is to thank Him for all He has done for you. Try to review your life and recount all the answers to prayer that you have received. Then recall the times you experienced the protection or guidance of God. When you realize what God has done in the past, you will have confidence to take God your every petition. Content copyright Jerry Falwell Ministries, Lynchburg, VA 24514