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Along with a renewed call for prayer in the Church, the Holy Spirit is again emphasizing individual, corporate, and sometimes prolonged fasting among believers. The reality of fasting as a 'martial art' and an element of
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effective spiritual warfare is being put upon the heart of believers across our nation. With spiritual awakening continuing in broad segments of Christianity, it is not surprising to find the Lord reminding His church of its "first love" and doing the "first things." (Revelation 2: 1-7) Christ must remain the initiator and be granted pre-eminence in all of our activities. (Colossians 1:18) Fasting is an effective antidote to familiarity, presumption, ritualistic routine, busyness, and entanglement with the affairs of this life. (2 Timothy 2:4)
Realizing that fasting has been out of fashion in Western churches for more than a century and a half, this renewed call and obedient implementation tell us that God has some very important battles and items on His immediate agenda. He is looking for and calling servants who will seek Him earnestly and who will, at His command, 'afflict' their own souls while watching in prayer to see His sovereign will and purpose accomplished.
Jesus, declaring that his disciples would fast after He ascended, outlined certain principles to guide them when they fasted. They were not to practice religiosity and fast for a show of professed piety, nor were they to fast for self-centered gain. They were, instead, to fast with a simple and wholehearted devotion unto God. In turn, Jesus unabashedly assured them of reward (Mark 2:20; Matthew 6:16-21). Isaiah 58 amplifies on the need for right motives, personal repentance, and compassionate works of mercy. Historical and scriptural records indicate that regular—even weekly—fasting was a common discipline among leaders and believers in the early Church (Acts 13:2; 14:23).
Our purpose is not to dictate that anyone must fast or embark upon an extended fast, but rather, to be faithful to report and encourage you in what we sense and see the Holy Spirit doing in the midst of the Church. There is a place for many types of fasting and spiritual discipline. The Lord always takes into careful account our individual callings, physical conditions, seasons of life, and rightful demands of employment as He directs us. While we poise ourselves to be obedient in promptings to fast, let us remember that the fast which is effective and pleasing to the Lord is the fast that He appoints. We can trust Him to make His calling clear to every believer.