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 #9)

Praise the Lord for all of you who have joined us on this 21 day journey. My heart was thrilled to see the number of hands raised in the morning gathering signifying their commitment to prayer.

Why 21 days? According to www.biblestudy.org, “Twenty-one symbolizes the great wickedness of rebellion and sin. After the children of Israel left Egyptian bondage they had 21 major rebellious events as they traveled and wandered in the wilderness.”

On Monday, February 8th, while driving to Kingsport, TN, and talking with the Lord about the future at Boones Creek Bible Church and the sin that abounds in our world today, He brought prayer and fasting to my mind.

On Tuesday, February 9th, one of the passages in my daily Bible reading was Luke 5:35, But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days, which set my mind to thinking about fasting and prayer. Then I read in Philippians 2:21, For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. A reason to fast is to break us away from a self-seeking mentality. Warren Wiersbe said, “In a very real sense, all of us live either in Philippians 1:21, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain, or in Philippians 2:21.” Then I read Psalm 119:145-152 which speaks of crying out to the LORD with our whole heart.

On Wednesday, February 10th, continuing to seek the Lord’s will for BCBC in reference to prayer and fasting, I read in Luke 6 these words, Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God (6:12). As I read, I wrote in my journal, “Why pray and fast?” The answer came in my reading of Philippians 3, Have no confidence in the flesh. . . . that I may gain Christ (3:3, 9). Making the connection, fasting is not a ritual to brag about or think oneself more spiritual than others or to become a legalistic matter, but it is a time set aside to remove all distractions, even necessary food, to spend concentrated time seeking the Lord’s face in submission, repentance and surrender. The Christ in me fasted and prayed, why shouldn’t I?

In the days to follow, my daily Bible reading continued to contain passages about prayer, fasting, and crying out to God. Upon reading 2 Chronicles 13-21, the Lord settled it in my heart, and we began this journey on Sunday, March 14.

As we work our way through this second week, may I encourage you to:

  • Consider fasting and prayer for the purpose of hungering and thirsting for God rather than earthly, human desires (Psalm 42:1-2a); for the purpose of seeing strongholds of evil (2 Corinthians 10:3-6) torn down in our hearts in such a way that it would usher in a great revival that would “shake” BCBC (Acts 4:31), that would melt our idols and cause us to die daily (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6).
  • Consider fasting and prayer with a proper biblical motive — seeking God’s face, not His hand — with a broken, repentant and contrite spirit (Psalms 34:18; 51:17; 2 Chronicles 7:14; 1 Peter 5:5-7).
  • Consider keeping a journal of the truths God is teaching you about Himself, Christ, the Holy Spirt and yourself. Also, answers to prayer; changes God is bringing to your attitude about prayer; the blessings of prayer and fasting; perhaps writing out your prayers.

I heard Evangelist Ron Lynch say in a recent message that God got ahold of his heart two years ago at Men’s Prayer Advance in reference to his viewpoint on prayer. He said, “God taught me that we are not to have a ‘prayer life’ but a ‘life of prayer’.” May these 21 days in the presence of the Lord bring us to have no confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3:3), but to have a vibrant, faith-filled, obedient, passionate, cup-running-over, expectant, crying out, submissive “life of prayer.”

Prayer lays hold of God’s plan and becomes the link between his will and its accomplishment on earth. Amazing things happen, and we are given the privilege of being the channels of the Holy Spirit’s prayer. — Elisabeth Elliot