For information on Fasting & Prayer we’ve included Pastor Phil’s blog post and
audio messages on this topic.
 
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GOD’S  CHOSEN  FAST by Pastor Phil Ballmaier
 
Every 6 months our church sets aside five days from Monday through Friday to fast and seek the Lord in prayer. I think that, for the most part, fasting is no longer practiced by many Christians in America.  Most Christians in this country see fasting as a kind of medieval, monastic practice that has its roots in fanaticism and is not something we need to concern ourselves with today.
 
However, that is simply not true—fasting is something that was practiced by God’s people in both Old and New Testament times as well as all throughout the Church Age.
 
One Christian author said, 
“Every great leader who moved his age mightily for God, fasted.”—
 
“Yes, but is it really necessary, is this really something God wants me to do?”
 
Matthew 6:2
Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
 
Matthew 6:5
And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
 
Matthew 6:16
“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
 
Notice that Jesus said, When you help the poor…when you pray…when you fast…”—When” not “if .”
 
We would agree that helping the poor and praying are activities that all Christians should be involved in and yet when it comes to fasting  most Christians seem to think that that was something only prophets and apostles did not something we should do today.  But Jesus lumped them all together and assumed that all of His disciples would be practicing these things as a regular part of their Christian lives. When it comes to the subject of fasting I find that people always have questions so let me try to answer some of the more common ones.
 
What is Fasting?
 
Today fasting has been defined as giving up anything for a time as a way to draw closer to God. This could mean giving up: TV, chocolate, caffeine, or a favorite activity like golf or some other recreation or hobby. But biblically speaking “to fast” means “not to eat.”
 
The Bible describes two main kinds of fasts that people in biblical times entered into: the 
normal, and the partial  fast.
 
  1.   The normal fast
 
Matthew 4:2
And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.
 
Notice that it says that during this time Jesus ate nothing but not that He drank nothing. It says afterward He was hungry but not that He was thirsty—Satan tempted Jesus to eat but not to drink. A normal fast is abstaining from all foods solid or liquid—but not from water. The human body can go without food for many days safely but only a few days without water.
 
2.    The partial fast
 
A partial fast is just as the name implies—it is a restriction of food, not a total abstention from food. good example of a partial fast was the one that Daniel entered into in Dan. 10:
 
Daniel 10:1-3 (NKJV)
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel… In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
 
A partial fast can take many different forms. A person can give up certain foods that are pleasant—meat, sweets and soft drinks and only eat unleavened bread and water as John Wesley did when confronting a case of demonic possession.
 
A partial fast could also consist of cutting out one meal a day for a while to spend that time with the Lord in prayer (just as long as you don’t try to make up for it with the two other meals). Remember this rule—you can pray without fasting, but you never fast without praying.
 

Why Should I Fast?
 
We should fast because Jesus did and we are to follow His example. Why did Jesus fast?  We are in a spiritual battle which is taking place all around us.  This battle is with the devil and his demons for the souls of our loved ones: our parents, our spouses, our children, our grandchildren, our neighbors, our friends—for everyone we know and love.
 
The problem is that far from doing battle against the enemy on behalf of these people—all too often we don’t even realize that many of the problems in the lives of those we are closest to are spiritual in nature; and therefore the only thing that will set them free from their bondage to the devil is the power of God released into their lives through prayer and fasting.
 
It is also true that we ourselves are locked in a battle with the enemy who is trying to destroy our walk and neutralize our effectiveness for God.
 
Arthur Wallis in his book, God’s Chosen Fast, made this observation:
 
“In these days when the Spirit of God is moving and the power of God is being released, evil forces that have lain dormant in human breasts for years are being compelled to throw off their camouflage and manifest themselves for what they are.
 
The discerning eye can recognize that many whom we meet in the path of life are oppressed by the devil, vexed by demons, bound by forces that they do not understand and from which they cannot break free. In many cases they loathe themselves for their actions, weep with sheer frustration at their own impotence to break the chains, and pray as best they know how for deliverance.
 
An increasingly large proportion of the younger generation are hopelessly bound by nicotine, alcohol, drugs, sexual desire, and gambling fever. Others are deceived and entangled by satanically inspired cults and societies, and by various forms of black magic, witchcraft and spiritism.
 
Worse still, there are Christians bound by fear, resentment, jealousy and uncleanness who know full well that they are in themselves a complete contradiction to the liberating gospel they profess—but how to get free? They try hard to pray, to believe, to claim, yet still they are bound…”
 
He goes on to give the solution—fasting coupled with prayer.
 
Mark 9:17-29
“This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
 
For over a hundred and fifty years fasting has been neglected and forgotten by churches in the west. And yet, as we just mentioned, fasting has always been a part of the lives of God’s people in both the Old and New Testaments as well as in modern times.  Moses, David, Elijah and Daniel were just some of the Old Testament saints that fasted when needing guidance or when facing a trial or crisis.  In the New Testament, Jesus is seen fasting many times; on one occasion for 40 days before beginning His public ministry. His example was then picked up by the other apostles who made fasting a regular part of their spiritual lives and ministries.  
 
Paul the Apostle in describing the difficulties of ministry and how he handled them said in 2 Corinthians 11:27 that he fasted often.  In more modern times men like Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Jonathan Edwards and Charles Finney, just to name a few, all practiced and preached the virtues of fasting in the Christian life.  John Wesley tells how Christians in a particular area were dry and lifeless in their walk when a group of leaders called for every Friday to be set aside for fasting and prayer.
 
Almost immediately God began to pour out His power and blessing upon them and a great revival broke out.
 
Arthur Wallis, again:
“If there is a local church threatened with discord and division, if spiritual life is waning and worldliness abounding, if conversions are few and backslidings frequent, would not this be a time when leaders should call that church to prayer and fasting?”
 
And then he added this statement—
“Is it some healing touch that we have looked for in vain, despite the assurance of His promise? Or are we still seeking the filling with the Spirit and wondering why our prayers are not heard? We think we are waiting for heaven, but heaven is waiting for us. When heaven can point out the fasting suppliant, and declare, “Behold, he is praying,” the answer will surely be at the door.”
 
Won’t you join us the week of March 27th as we fast and seek the Lord for our families, our friends, our churches and our nation?  We have also provided two audio messages below on this topic.