21 Days of Prayer (Day #11)

The Fast I Have Chosen (Chuck Swindoll)

Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6

I remember the first time I ever fasted. I spent most of the time looking at the clock and thinking about my stomach. But I have kept the practice of fasting regularly, despite the discomforts in my body. Throughout the years, I have committed to several different types of fasts and for different, yet specific, reasons. I have experienced mountain-top highs and dark-valley lows during times of fasting. I have learned that fasting in its essence is a time of cleansing and purifying, which means I spend a lot of the time confessing and repenting of my sins. When all is said and done; however, fasting has been one of the most powerful tools in my walk with Christ.

The main thing I had to understand very early in my experiences with fasting was that if I tried to do it on my own, then failure seemed to be the result. I have proclaimed fasts for reasons that were not from God. I have determined the type and the length of a fast, then seen it completely fall apart in my weakness. Now when I fast, I try to make certain that it is the fast God has chosen, otherwise, I end up feeling worse.

Today’s verse gives us an example of the type of fast God chooses for us. Fasting is an excellent weapon against the enemy’s strongholds and bondage in our lives. God appoints certain times of fasting for us to find freedom from wicked bonds and heavy yokes that burden us down. The question for us: are we willing to make the sacrifice for spiritual freedom? It is not easy, but it is so worth it. Are you struggling with an area of bondage? Do you feel burdened and cannot seem to overcome? Pray for clear direction as you ask the Lord to lead you in to a specific fast for your situation. He may impress upon you to fast from certain foods or television shows or daily activities. I believe God honors any attempt we make at fasting, whether it is a food fast or something else. I also believe that He needs to be involved from the very beginning; otherwise, we may ditch it earlier than planned. Pray about fasting and see what God shows you. This may be just the break you have been waiting for.

Read: Numbers 23; Mark 7:14-37

(Daily Disciples Devotional – Mar. 2, 2009; lightsource.com)

21 Days of Prayer (Day #10)

“Thank you for this 21 day journey. I am one who does not fast well, and I have never been moved to do it, but I was reminded that there are other types of fasts. I for one have now been convicted that I consume far too much political junk food all day. Time for a fast from a chunk of that! Time to re-sort those things.” These are the words from a text I received yesterday morning and used with permission. What rejoicing it brought to my heart! This believer gets it!

Yesterday’s reading took me to Nehemiah 1-2. Nehemiah receives news from Hanani concerning the destruction in Jerusalem. The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire (1:3). He had known some facts of the situation before, but this detailed firsthand account moved him in a powerful way. In verse 4 we read, So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

There are two things that I want you to get from this today.

First of all, note the descriptive words of 1:4. Nehemiah was broken. Indeed, we should be driven and motivated to prayer by the love God has for us and the love of Christ in us, but are you driven to prayer because you are broken over the destruction caused by your own sin, rebellion, pride, disobedience and unbelief? Please catch that as Nehemiah prays (1:5-11), he doesn’t use the pronouns “they” or “you.” He includes himself by the use of “I” and “we.” So much so, you read in 1:6-7, Both my father’s house and I have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. If we are to see a move of God at BCBC, His INCREASE (1 Corinthians 3:7-8), we must be broken!!

Consider something with me, please. Have you ever been so burdened in prayer that you cried out to God in verbal anguish of heart and soul? Did the tears course down your cheeks? Did you find yourself groaning, aching over the burden, weeping over sin, responding in such a fashion as we see with Nehemiah, David (Psalm 34:17-18; 51:1-17), and Jesus (Luke 22:44)?

You see, prayer doesn’t lead you to brokenness until your pride and preferences die (Romans 6). Jesus said, Not MY will but Thine be done (Luke 22:42). “MY” will must die before it is resurrected into “THY” will. This is the power of the cross and the resurrection. Death to self; alive to Christ in you (Galatians 2:20).

Second of all, please note that Nehemiah fasted. Remember, the purpose of fasting is for a Christ-centered, biblical purpose. My challenge to you this week is to set aside whatever will remind you, “I’m giving this up so I can spend time before the Lord in prayer.” For instance, if it is giving up a meal, when you want to eat, let the hunger pain remind you of the greater need of prayer! If you are giving up social media for a week, every time you want to check Facebook, let that be a reminder to pray for God’s increase at BCBC, for lost souls to be saved, and for revival among our church family.

Brokenness and fasting—two important ingredients too often missing in the believer’s life of prayer. Today, let’s . . .

  • Read the passages of Scripture given in today’s prayer challenge and answer the questions. Will you be broken?
  • Consider what needs to be set aside this week in fasting in order to be more aware of the need of prayer and the presence of Christ in you.