Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What Should I Do While I Am Fasting?

Do: 

Spend time in Praise and Worship “I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me” (Psalm 13:6).

Read the Bible (on your knees). Confess God’s Word. Meditate on God’s Word. Memorize scripture (Try to memorize a chapter, a whole book, or thirty scriptures on a specific subject). “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8).

Pray. Speak in tongues.“... pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18).

Engage in Spiritual Warfare “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

Repent of your sins. Repentance is the cornerstone of a fast. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you make a list of all your sins and confess them to God. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). 

Make a list of everything you are thankful for. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good” (Psalm 118:1). 

Forgive those who have hurt you. Make restitution to those you have hurt.
* “...when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins" (Mark 11:25).
* “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us...” (Luke 11:4).
* "...If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him" (Luke 17:3-4).


Pray the Lord’s Prayer Meditate on each phrase. Jesus taught us to pray by saying, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Matthew 6:9-13).

Surrender your life completely to God. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2).

Meditate on the attributes of God. As you think about His love, grace, holiness, compassion, goodness, mercy, kindness, sovereignty, power, wisdom, and His faithfulness, you will draw ever closer to your Heavenly Father. Read through the Psalms for inspiration. “...Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed...The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love ...For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him” (Psalm 103:1-8, 11-13).

Document all the miracles God has performed in your life. Joshua asked the Israelites to make a large pile of stones as a memorial to the miracle of crossing the Jordan river (Joshua 4:7-8). We can build a similar memorial in our memory by making a list of all the all the wonderful miracles God has performed on our behalf.

Ask God to use you. Ask Him to reveal His plans for your life. Invite God to give you visions of your future. Ask God to show you how to impact the lives of those around you, your family members, your community, your church, your city, your country, and the world. “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
           
Expect fresh spiritual insights; expect to be mentally, spiritually, and physically refreshed; expect to gain new confidence and faith in God; expect your prayers to be answered.

Keep a journal during your fast. “The LORD said to me, "Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen” (Isaiah 8:1).

Document the discoveries you have made about God. As I listen to the sermons of my favorite preachers, I often make notes in the margins of my Bible. One day I was overseas and accidentally lost my Bible. My heart sank as I remembered the thousands of discoveries I had documented within its pages. Fortunately, my Bible was returned to me. Immediately, I decided to type up a record of all my notes in case I ever lost my Bible again. I set aside a time of fasting in order to complete the project. With nothing on my desk but my laptop and my Bible, I went from Genesis to Revelation and typed up every sermon note in my Bible. This process was one of my spiritual highs as I reviewed thousands of wonderful truths God had revealed to me over the years. Now, I have a Word Document full of every secret I know about God’s Word. 


What Activities Should I Avoid During My Fast?

Don’t:

Watch television

Be distracted

Physically exert yourself.

Give into the temptation to break your fast early.

Boast about your fast to others.

Go where you can smell food being prepared.

Try to Manipulate God The motive of your heart is more important than the length of your fast. Fasting is not a way to manipulate God into blessing you. God is good, He wants to bless you whether you fast or not. You cannot use fasting to twist God’s arm or to gain brownie points. You fast because you want to get closer to God, not because you are trying to get something from Him.
            Fasting, in and of itself, is not what impresses God. Rather, it is the heart attitude that we cultivate during fasting that blesses God. If you fast with the wrong motives, you are better off not fasting at all. Here are some examples of people who fasted uselessly.

1. Ahab and his evil wife Jezebel proclaimed a fast as part of a plot to kill a man named Naboth because they wanted to steal his vineyard (1 Kings 21:12). After the murder, Elijah confronted Ahab and prophesied that Ahab’s family would be wiped out and his blood would be split on that same plot of land. Ahab immediately put on sackcloth and ashes and fasted as a sign of his repentance (1 Kings 21:27). Because of his humble response to the word of the Lord, the fulfillment of the prophecy was delayed until after Ahab’s death, but once he died, his body was dumped on the land he had stolen (2 Kings 9:26).

2. In Isaiah’s day, the people fasted as an outward sign of following God, but inwardly they were hypocrites. They would quarrel, fight, mistreat their employees, and hit each other in the middle of the fast. Then they wondered why God did not answer their prayers. “'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. 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 (Isaiah 58:3-4).


3. After the seventy year’s of captivity, Zechariah asked the Jews and the priests, “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for [God] that you fasted?” (Zechariah 7:5).

4. Jesus told a parable about a Pharisee and a tax collector. The Pharisee boasted, “I fast twice a week...” (Luke 18:12), but Jesus was not impressed. In the story, the tax collector who asks for mercy from God is justified, not the religious person who is proud of his fasting.
            Jesus thought that fasting had become a hypocritical exercise for the religious leaders of his day. The Talmud tells us the Pharisees fasted every second and fifth day of the week, Mondays and Thursdays. Why did they fast on those days? According to them, it was because when Moses went up the mountain to get the Ten Commandments, he left on the fifth day of the week and returned on the second.
            But there may have been another reason for their fasts. In Jerusalem, market day was on Monday and Thursday. The people were out on the streets on the days the Pharisees chose to fast, and the religious leaders made sure everyone knew they were fasting. They would dishevel their hair, put on old clothes, cover themselves with dirt and ashes, and actually put white chalk makeup on their cheeks in order to look pale. Then they would walk through the market places with pained, hungry looks on their faces so everyone could see how spiritual they were.  
            The words of Jesus addressing this type of hypocrisy were quite severe. "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matthew 23:27-28).
            This is why Jesus told his disciples, "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:15). Fasting is not for impressing men, but for impressing God.

5. Jewish religious leaders made a pact not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. “...the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. More than forty men were involved in this plot. They went to the chief priests and elders and said, "We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul” (Acts 23:12-14). But, because their hunger strike was in opposition to God’s will, they failed.