All scripture references are from the Living Stream Ministry Holy Bible Recovery Version, unless otherwise noted. In my pilgrimage with the Lord in my Christian life, I have had more than my share of failure, disappointment, backsliding, and outright rebellion toward God. Although I was in the Word, I was not living it because of many profound unresolved issues. As a child, I lived in the ghetto in Spanish Harlem in New York, as well as in Los Angeles, and came from a broken home in a family with a history of addiction, occult practices, and other weird generational curses. Basically I needed serious help and I knew it!
Through my participation in a recovery ministry– Victory Outreach, and later with a strong relationship established with two Vineyard church pastors, I began the process of inner healing, deliverance, and accountable relationships that strengthened my faith in a genuine walk with my Lord. The Holy Spirit used the ministry of prayer and fasting in my life to do a deep work that layer by layer allowed and fostered the transformation of my inner man. My soul (mind, will, emotions, motive, desires, aspirations, imagination) needed to submit to and be guided on a daily basis by the Holy Spirit in His indwelling presence. The counsel and guidance of godly men and my wife’s dedication to our marriage were invaluable, but the primary work was done by the Holy Spirit in the arena of prayer and fasting.
In January 1997 I gave this particular teaching at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship Westside, with the encouragement of Pastor Brad Bailey. As a church we were entering a season of seeking the Lord and he felt that this discipline and understanding would be beneficial to our congregation. The tape message is still available ten years later. It is my sincere hope that others would develop such a hunger for God and for spiritual growth, that seasons of fasting would be a normal part of their lives. The Body of Christ needs the healing, deliverance, activation and acceleration that results when fasting acts as a catalyst to the prayer life of every believer. We need to lean into the Spirit to hear what He is saying to the church today, and nothing does that more dramatically that the combined blessing of prayer with fasting.
I- Spiritual Purpose:
1) Communion with the Lord. Prayer is a dialogue between myself and God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Communication always involves active listening more than speaking, since frankly God has much more to say of higher quality than we do. Much of my prayer time involves Praise… expressing gratitude for so much that He has done for me and my loved ones in decisively answering so many of our prayers (see the song Rise and Soar in previous post: History-Making Prayer).
Fasting humbles the body and soul and helps us to lean more easily into the Spirit. There should be a significant stretch of time just being still before our Holy Father… with no care as to time, or our particular agenda… just being. Psalm 46:10… Be still, and know that I am God.
2) A catalyst for fervent prayer. James 5:16b KJV… The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. I prefer the Amplified version on this text: The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous person makes tremendous power available– dynamic in its working. The operative word is righteous… in right standing, with no rebellion- unconfessed sin– keeping short accounts with the Lord at all times.
Hosea 6:3b; 10:12… And He will come to us as the rain, as the latter rain which waters the earth; Sow unto righteousness for yourselves; reap according to lovingkindness; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek Jehovah until He comes and rains Righteousness on you.
With the three forms of prayer discussed in a previous post referenced by Charles Carrin: prayer with our understanding, praying in the Spirit, and groaning prayer– and a receptive heart and ‘hearing ear’… fasting cuts through the resistance in the spiritual realm and gives us an Open Heaven experience. Once I have gotten past the first five days, I find that the hunger completely goes away, I have profoundly vivid anointed dreams, and the Scriptures are radiant with His Presence. Let me say that spiritual fasting- whether one day or 40 days, whether a partial fast, or a liquid fast- needs to be engendered by the Holy Spirit. He will guide us as to why, when, and for how long… so that we can have a greater likelihood of finishing strong with the ‘mission accomplished’.
II- Body, Soul, and Spirit:
1) The physical- preparation, effects, and benefits… The physical preparation for any season of fasting required that we maintain a healthy diet when we are eating, that we anticipate the call of the Lord for a specified period and that the pre- and post- experience be carefully planned. It will be fruitless and potentially unhealthy to do this from a faddish or legalistic perspective… because the effort will be doomed to failure. I remember one time on a 27 day fast that I actually cried because although I knew it was the ordained time to break the fast, I didn’t want to because of the intense level of precious spiritual activity that has been consistently part of that particular fast.
I must add a disclaimer: some of the fasts that I have been on have been very difficult; even disappointing because of a level of spiritual warfare that I was not consistently up to. Fortunately our omniscient loving God is gracious and forgiving in His training for reigning that He ordains and orchestrates. In the vast majority of the cases (about 20 seasons), I was consistently able to work a 10-hour day, meet my family obligations, and most of the time feel very lucid, centered, and full of His peace. I looked forward to and enjoyed instant deep sleep, and the vivid dreams were addictive.
With respect to the body- fasting is highly therapeutic and helps to detoxify the body as a whole. Worth reading (among all the references listed at the end of this post) is The Miracle Of Fasting by Drs. Paul and Patricia Bragg. This father-daughter team conducted fasting retreats for decades with many famous people participating in, and benefiting significantly from their experiences in attaining greater health and longevity. I quote:
“Fasting is accepted and recognized as being the oldest form of therapy known to man for the improvement of the body- it is mentioned 74 times in the Bible, and it is used by animals in the wild the world over. As we study the ancient healers of the world, we find that fasting heads the list for help in naturally healing the sick and wounded. There has been a misconception about fasting that must be clarified: it must definitely and positively be stated that fasting is not a cure for any disease or ailment.
The purpose of the Fast is to allow the body full range and scope to fulfill its self-healing, self-rejuvenating function to the best advantage. Healing is an internal biological function. Fasting gives the body a physiological rest and permits the body to become one hundred percent efficient in healing itself. Fasting, under proper care, with workable knowledge- is probably the fastest and the safest way of regaining health. We who have made a life study of the science of Fasting and have conducted and supervises thousands of fasts, know the miracle that the body itself can perform during the period of complete abstinence from food. It gives the overworked and overburdened internal organs time for rehabilitation. It exhilarates the internal powers and vitality of the body to flush out toxic poisons and waste that has been stored in the body for years. The prophets of old fasted for spiritual illumination, and a closer contact with God. We know that fasting sharpens and makes the mental faculties keen and sharp.”
I had a personal experience with healing which I will describe briefly: when I was 40 years old I was diagnosed with adult-onset asthma, due to poor eating habits, being overweight, and highly stressed out on my counseling vocation. I had developed sleep Apnea (severe snoring problem wit the potential danger of heart complications), struggled to breathe constantly, and when the actual asthma attacks hit- I couldn’t breathe at all. I was prescribed the ‘wonder-drug’ Seldane which I took daily for almost 7 years with great results.
During this period of time I lost about 30 lbs., started physically working out consistently, and felt better than I had my whole life… until a persistent pain in my lower back compelled me to get a doctor’s opinion; the results were potentially life-threatening. I was diagnosed as having a golf ball size mass in my liver with substantial liver damage: it could be a cyst, a parasite, or a tumor… worst case scenario- cancer. At the same time Seldane was taken off the market forever because of the many hundreds of people (especially elderly) who had died of sudden onset heart attacks and terminal liver damage. Needless to say I was one scared puppy! I took it to the Lord in prayer and He reminded me about how much better I felt after each of the short (3-8 day) fasts that I had been doing for a couple of years. It was time for an extended fast seeking Him for healing and longevity. I undertook a 27 day fast, with nutritional supplementation targeting the liver before I commenced: On the 11th day the pain was gone; on the 18th day an MRI was inconclusive; on the 27th day a second MRI clearly revealed that whatever had been there was gone! I got a new lease on life because of a spiritual discipline with tangible health benefits.
Dr. Rex Russell, a dedicated physician and devout Christian writes in What the Bible Says about Healthy Living: The liver which is known as the chemical laboratory of the human body, and the most abused organ has a chance during the fast to rehabilitate and pickup more vital energy. Thus after a [liquid] fast [complete abstinence from food], the liver functions more efficiently. The body is designed to heal itself at the cellular level. The biochemical mechanisms of the cell are many times more complex than the precise mechanisms that cause the universe to function… Fasting unclogs the system and eliminates poisons from it. The cell uses periods of rest to process and eliminate waste and other toxins. Modern research, ancient healers, and more importantly the Word of the body’s Designer- God indicates that one benefit from fasting is [personal] healing. Isaiah 58:8… Then your healing will quickly appear.
2) The mental and emotional issues- (i.e. fear, unbelief, cravings, etc.) Our body will line up with our soul (mind, will, and emotions) in obedience… but only to the extent that our souls are in submission to our spirit working together as one with the Holy Spirit- 1 Corinthians 6:17… But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit. The fear of failure needs to be checked by the prayer of assurance that the Lord is behind us not only in preparation, and during the entire fast, but also in the delicate process of breaking the fast to maximum benefit and minimal trauma.
Surrendering our will to the leading of the Holy Spirit requires vigilance. One of the precious ways our Lord comforted me during a particularly hard fasting day-12 where cravings piled up on each other was to have me say out loud, “I will eat again!” That simple phrase dispelled all struggles and I have used it to great success in completing the fasts that I have been ordained to take. Unbelief is eliminated by building up our faith: Romans 10:17… Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. We all need the wisdom, discernment, and confidence to address any and every aspect of spiritual warfare that is activated in this formidable method of pulling down strongholds.
Our emotional state will find His Peace, His Joy, and His compassionate heart of Love when we aggressively bring the ‘carnal mind’ and flesh-prone thoughts into submission. This is a worthy ‘wrestling’ match between the flesh and the spirit… and if our senses are exercised to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14),we will win the day every day. Listen: there is solid food to partake of during any genuine fast; but it is the bread from Heaven that Paul refers to in this verse, and that Jesus alluded to when he revealed Himself to the woman at the well.
With respect to our human spirit we will increase in spiritual discernment and sensitivity, strengthened with humility. It will be ever so clear that the insights, visions, dreams and other manifestations of an ongoing Open Heaven experience are not engendered by us, but by His Grace in greater communion with us. The level of intimacy with our Bridegroom during this time is so special; precious beyond human comprehension- except for those who enjoy the similar experience. If every member of the Body of Christ knew the value on this basis alone… every one of us would be fasting regularly as called and led by the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation in the knowledge of Him.
Many ministries have regular times of corporate fasting and intercession: Intercessors for America have an easy one to participate in- 1st Friday Prayer: The first Friday of every month is set apart for fasting and prayer. Avail yourself of their great free newsletter available via the link on the right panel. They offer key prayer focus each month, have outstanding resources in a comprehensive catalog, and are directly affiliated with numerous other prayer movements worldwide- sharing up to date information on the state of the church and the sad state of the world without Christ. Mahesh and Bonnie Chavda have the ministry www.watchofthelord.com which has a regular Friday all-night prayer encounter that they call “Date Night with the Lord”.
I firmly believe that the lack of participation of most church members in regular prayer meetings is one of the predominate reasons for the sad state of most churches and ministries. Jesus Himself said, “My House shall be called a House of Prayer for all nations” Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46. So what’s up with that? Why is praylessness such a pervasive sin in the greater Body of Christ? Is it apathy, procrastination, and just plain outright disregard for the revealed perfect will of God in the matter?
Isaiah 56:7… Even these will I cause to come to My Holy Mountain [Zion] and to rejoice in My House of Prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable upon My altar; for My House will be called a House of Prayer for all the peoples. Have mercy on us, dear Lord; bring us to the place of obedience in repentance- where we will see the world turned upside down again by all who will willingly devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word.
III God’s Perspective:
1) The healing of our land- Chronicles 7:14 KJV… If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, seek My Face, and turn from their wicked ways- then will I hear from Heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their land.
2) A Wake Up Call for the slumbering church dangerously at ease in ‘Zion’. See Joel 2:15-18;23;28-32 again and again until it hurts! Blow the trumpet in Zion- Consecrate a Fast. Fortunately for us The Call under the watcher/intercessor leadership of Lou Engle is in its 34th day of 40 days set apart for God’s purposes in the earth. The trumpet has blown… will the church respond? Before the world can, the church must!
3) The Battle belongs to The Lord (yet we are His Army!) See 2 Cor. 10:4-6; Ephesians 6:10-18. We are promised strength to overcome until the end, for these are truly the last days, and the Great Endtime Harvest is at hand… Praise the Lord!
1. God’s Chosen Fast- Arthur Wallis… Christian Literature Crusade. A thorough scriptural and practical guide to fasting, with a very insightful diary of a 21 day fast by the author.
2. In the Day of Thy Power- also Arthur Wallis… Christian Literature Crusade. A picture of “Revival” from Holy Scripture as well as world history.
3. Prayer and Fasting- Dr. Kingsley A. Fletcher… Destiny Image Publishers. Purpose, Preparation, Action, Results.
4. Shaping History through Prayer and Fasting- Derek Prince… Whitaker House How Christians can change world events thru simple yet powerful tools of intercession.
5. The Miracle of Fasting- Drs. Paul and Patricia Bragg.. Health Science Publications Proven throughout history for physical, mental, and spiritual rejuvenation.
6. The Coming Revival- Dr. Bill Bright… New Life Publications. America’s Call to fast, to pray, and ‘Seek God’s Face’.
7. What the Bible Says about Healthy Living- Rex Russell, MD… Regal Books, Inc. Unlock truths hidden in Scripture with volumes of medical confirmation.
8. The Elijah Task- John and Paula Sanford… Victory House, Inc. For over thirty years , a Classic concerning God’s Call for the Last Days Church.
9. That None Should Perish- Ed Silvoso… Regal Books, Inc. How to reach entire cities for Christ through “prayer evangelism”.
10. The House of the Lord- Francis Frangipane… Creation House Publishers. God’s inexorable plan to liberate your city from darkness.
For deeper insight into how GOD the Father sees His children; to better understand the elementary principles of Christ (Hebrews 6:1-3); the ‘mysteries’ of Christ’s Kingdom; and our individual and corporate calling, commission, and empowerment- please review my first published book and the Table of Contents on the Amazon website linked here via Book Title: “Thy Kingdom Come- Here and Now!”
‘I Know That My Redeemer Lives’ by Nicole Mullin