The Christianís Spinach

, The Christianís Spinach
By Sandra Moats

In the Bible God gave His people a toolbox full of important tools to use for our Christian walk on lifeís path. They are tools that will help us bring forth effective fruit for the kingdom of God. Most of us are acquainted with the tools of prayer, praise and witnessing, but there is a tool that is quite rusty in Christian circles. This tool cannot be overlooked for it must be used if we are to reach the full effectiveness that God calls us to. The name of this tool is fasting.†
When the word fasting is mentioned, it brings the thought of fanaticism to some minds. The idea of going without food for a day or more to seek the face of God is beyond some believerís thinking. Yet to God, fasting is not fanaticism, but rather one of His kingdom tools.†
To fast means to abstain from some or all food, drink, or both for a frame of time.†
Fasting is more than just depriving your body of food. Denying yourself afflicts your soul as desire takes a back seat to seeking God. Biblical fasting always is joined hand in hand with prayer and seeking God. When you set aside your appetite to seek God in a matter of importance, you are letting Him know that you mean business, and He will reward you. (Jer 29:13,14; Joe 2:12). It is amazing how quickly fasting brings clear focus, and the unimportant things fall away.†
Fasting prepares us to walk into the next step of growth. Jesus fasted forty days and nights in the desert before beginning His ministry on earth. (Mt 4:2; Lu 4). Fasting helps us find Godís will in a situation. In Acts 13:2, while the church in Antioch was seeking God in worship and fasting, the Lord spoke to them that Paul and Barnabas were to take the gospel to the Gentiles. Again, while in prayer and fasting, Paul and Barnabas established elders within the church. (Ac 14:23).
God speaks to us many times during a fast. Moses received the Ten Commandments during his forty day fast. (Ex 34:28). Daniel received a great vision and words from God while he was fasting for three weeks. (Da 10:1-3).
Fasting was practiced during the Bible days. The prophetess Anna fasted often on certain days. (Lu 2:37). The early church fasted two days a week, Wednesdays and Fridays.†
There are various kinds of fasts. The normal fast includes abstaining from food and liquids other than water for a designated period of time, usually for one day. A partial fast is a restriction of your diet, such as the Daniel fast, which included only vegetables and water. (Da 1:15). Those with medical conditions can do a partial fast. You could for instance omit sweets from your diet as a fast. Some have fasted watching TV for a time, etc. The total fast is abstaining from food and water. This kind of fast usually would not exceed three days unless it was an exceptional situation that God led a person into, such as He did Moses. (Es 4:15,16).†
When you fast, hopefully you would be able to draw aside and spend the time with the Lord in prayer and Bible study, but you can also fast while you carry on your daily acitivites. This is usually the case for those who practice fasting regularly. You can pray and fast while you work, and God can certainly talk to you at the same time. Yet at times, you need to set aside solitary space for prayer, fasting and Bible study.
If you have a medical condition, you need to check with your doctor before doing a normal fast. A partial fast can be done by anyone for it doesnít always include food, as mentioned earlier. Before doing a total fast, you should seek counsel from a Pastor to confirm if it is truly God leading you, especially if it is beyond three days. The extent of each fast depends on the believerís leading from God. Moses was the first person recorded in the Bible to fast, and he went on a total fast for forty days and nights. (De 9:9,18).
There are times when a church will call a fast, and that would be a set time. We have done that in our churches when a need arose. Once a young woman was carrying a baby and the baby died in her womb during the sixth month of pregnancy. The doctors wanted to abort the baby so her system would not become poisoned, but the mother felt she could not do that. The church was called to a one-day fast to seek God in the matter. The mother still felt she could not have an abortion so she carried the baby another five weeks, and then delivered naturally with no physical problems. The doctors were amazed!
In situations when we pray and pray, but nothing seems to happen, Scripture tells us to add fasting to our prayers. Fasting can be likened to the cartoon character Popeye with his can of spinach. He goes on his own strength, but when situations get rough, he grabs that can of spinach, pops it open, and eats it. After consuming the spinach, his arms swell with power and strength, and a victory is released. The Christian prays, but when things get stalled between heaven and earth, we add fasting to our prayers to bring forth a break through. (Da 10:12,13).
In May of 2001, we were waiting, along with over two hundred other families, for our adoption referral from China for our daughter Faith. International situations between China and the United States were strained and it caused adoptions to be put on hold. I called for a fast over the Internet among the adoptive families and my international prayer list. Many of the other families responded by joining in the fast, along with other believers in many countries. Still nothing seemed to happen. I called a fast again the next week. Rumors began coming in over the Internet that something was happening in the China Center of Adoption Affairs, but still no referrals came through. The next week I called another fast, and it was like a dam breaking loose with hundreds of adoption referrals flowing.†
The tool of fasting has been laid aside in most Christian circles as something that was practiced in the past on a regular basis, but is no longer relevant for today. God has not changed, and His Word remains the same; fasting has not been omitted out of Godís heavenly toolbox. (Heb 13:8).†
In the Bible we see fasting sprinkled among the Old and New Testament books with miraculous results. When the Moabites and Ammonites were attacking, King Jehoshaphat called a fast and the Israelites were delivered. (2 Ch 20:1- 22). Nineveh was spared because the whole city turned to God in repentance and fasting. (Jon 3:5-7). Queen Esther declared a three-day fast which gainned her favor that ultimately saved the Jews. (Es 3:4).†
In each portion of Scripture where we find fasting, we find there were situations involved that required divine invention from God. When the tool of fasting was brought out and applied, the answer came forth.†
Fasting is used to bring forth healing and deliverance. Jesus told His disciples that certain demons only come out by prayer and fasting. (Mt 17:21). Some Lutheran friends of mine had a little boy who had over fifty seizures a day. They began to read the Bible in desperation over their sonís condition. They were new Christians, and when they read that this kind of demon comes out by prayer and fasting, they believed what the Bible said. On Thanksgiving vacation, they set aside three days for prayer and fasting for their little son. The church was opened to them for their seeking of the Lord about this matter. On the third day of their fast, on Thanksgiving Day, they laid hands on their little son and prayed for his deliverance. God set that little boy free, and the parents were so inspired, they went on to become pastors.
On my first trip into China, I was fasting partly due to the fact that I was there alone, and didnít want to get sick from the food. One morning God highlighted a particular portion of Scripture; Isaiah 58:6,7. It spoke to me about Godís chosen fast. It says that we should fast to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke. This fast calls us to give our bread to the hungry, and bring into our homes the poor that are cast out. It calls us to cover the naked that are without. God impressed on me that the real reason for my fasting was to free our little girl, whom I was in China to find, and to bring her into our home to cover. Light, healing, guidance, strength, refreshment, and protection are a few of the Scriptural benefits of fasting. (Isa 58:8-11).†
Walking through lifeís situations, it seems sometimes that we run into brick walls. If that is happening to you, then it is time to add the tool of fasting to your prayers, remembering that fasting is the Christianís spinach.