As we embark on a new ministry year, all of us will be seeking a unique breakthrough whether personal, corporate as a church or regional as a movement. God's people have been seeking spiritual breakthrough for generations through the practice of prayer and fasting. Some examples are Moses, David, Isaiah, John the Baptist, Paul and Barnabas just to name of few. Yet our supreme example is our Savior. He set the example by fasting for 40 days in the wilderness and also through his clear instruction on the subject.
Here are five reasons for calling your church to a corporate season of fasting.
1) It’s a biblical practice.
Jesus did not say to his disciples "if" you fast but he said "when" you fast. (Matthew 6:16) 'If' is optional but “when” assumptive. Jesus assumed the continued practice of fasting with their prayers. It is a spiritual discipline to be employed by the church as a regular practice. When fasting is a regular habit it keeps our hearts tender towards God.
2) It creates community.
As a community of believers, we need to fight spiritual battles with spiritual weapons. When we do, there is spiritual bonding that takes places which strengthens our sense of community. Public fasts were declared under great times of stress and need by Samuel (1 Samuel 7:6), Ezra (Ezra 8:1), Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9:1) and Joel (Joel 1:14). The leaders in the Antioch Church worshipped, prayed and fasted together in seeking God's leading (Act 13:1-3). Paul and Barnabas continued this practice as the appointed elders in the new churches (Acts 14:23). When it is a regular part of the church’s calendar, it births deep connections in God's family.
3) It reinforces spiritual disciplines.
When in your preaching calendar do you take people deeper in their relationship with God? One of the marks of a missional Christian is that there is evidence of a craving and experiencing of spiritual intimacy with God through the practice of spiritual disciplines. When fasting is addressed from the pulpit it reminds disciples of their need to be disciplined in their daily walk.
4) It generates spiritual dependence.
It is too easy to do ministry in our own strength but in doing so we will only achieve results that will impress man and not God. Crying out for God to do the spiritually impossible is the key to experiencing spiritual breakthroughs. Fasting is a physical act the keeps us focused on the spiritual. When fasting is regularly practiced, it reminds us that spiritual victories are fought and attained in the heavens first. (Psalm 20:7).
5) It produces humility.
Pride is an infectious problem that spreads through the hearts of all men. Pride produces strong reaction from God. He will directly and firmly battle against the proud (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:4). King David used fasts to humble himself before God the true King (Psalm 35:14). When fasting is a practice, it can lead to a humble soul who experiences the favor of God (I Peter 5:5).
Will you join us? Pastor, will you lead your church to join us as we kick off the year with a prayer and fasting emphasis?
Check out our resource page to help lead your church through a 21 Day Prayer and Fasting Emphasis.