Don’t Drop Your Shield!

Growing up, I remember playing a game at school called “Red Rover.” Do you remember playing this game too? For those of you who may not remember, the game is played between two lines of players, usually around thirty feet apart. The game starts when the 1st team…say team Blue… calls out to the 2nd team…say team Green, “Red rover, red rover, send [name of player on opposite team] right over.”

The immediate goal for the person called is to run to the other line and break the Blue team’s chain (formed by the linking of hands). If the person called fails to break the chain, this player joins the Blue team. However, if the player successfully breaks the chain, this player may select either of the two “links” broken by the successful run, and take them to join the Green team. The Green team then calls out “Red rover” for a player on the Blue team, and play continues.

When only one player is left on a team, they also must try and break through a link. If they do not succeed, the opposing team wins. Otherwise, they are able to get a player back for their team.

I love sports and was very competitive growing up so I was all about this game! When I was called over by the opposing team, I would examine the row of kids linked together and determine the weakest link in the chain. That is where I would attempt to run and break through the chain.

This strategy of determining your opposing team’s weaknesses is certainly not a new one as it is used in many sports today such as football, baseball, basketball and also as military strategy in many battles and wars.  If you can figure out the other team’s/enemy’s weakness then that is the very area you pursue and attack to achieve your win or victory.

Well, as Christians we too have battles and an enemy to fight…Satan…an enemy who is very skilled in deceiving, manipulating, and lying.  

…he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44 NIV

An enemy who will wait for an opportune time to attack us….especially in our weakness.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 NIV

When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came. Luke 4:13NIV

As Christians, we face a very powerful enemy whose goal is to defeat us.

Jesus said…The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10 NLT

Satan can attack us in many ways and one way is in our weakness.

Have you ever experienced this? I know I have! …especially when I have my guard down…when I least expect it…when my faith isn’t strong…when I am tired …when I am flat out weak.

The Bible talks about our fight not being against flesh and blood but against the powers of this dark world.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12 NIV

And it goes on to shows us that we can fight and stand these struggles by putting on the full armor of God!

I absolutely love this passage Ephesians 6:10-18! It discusses each piece of armor we are to put on or carry to fight against the enemy…and his schemes. What is interesting is that twice it says to put on the “full” armor or “whole” armor of God…indicating the importance of each piece of armor. Each piece has a purpose…the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted and ready by the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit.

The one piece of equipment I want to focus on today is our shield…our Shield of Faith!

Above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Ephesians 6:16 KJV

I find it very interesting that Ephesians 6:16 begins with the words “Above all”….Why is the Shield of Faith the piece of armor that is “above all” the other pieces? Is it more important than all the other pieces of armor?

In order to grasp the significance of these 2 words “Above all”, I would like to first describe the shield…the shield used by soldiers and mighty warriors in battle.

It was a big shield that measures 1.6m high and 80cm wide. It was made of 3 layers of wood, with linen sandwiched between each layer and also had an outer layer of leather or animal hide. To hold it all together, there was a bronze strip wrapped around the whole edge.

If it was hit by a flaming arrow, this shield would still burn. So, before they went into battle, the soldiers would soak the shields in water. The wet linen and leather would stop the shield from igniting, even when there was a flaming arrow embedded into it. Pretty cool, huh?!

Secondly, I want you to see the true meaning of “Above all”.

The phrase “Above all” is taken from the Greek phrase epi pasin. The word epi means “over.” The word pasin “all” or can be translated “everything.”

So instead of saying that the Shield of Faith is more important than other pieces of the armor, we can see that the phrase epi pasin (“above all”) describes a position over the other pieces of armor…it can be described, as being “out in front” of all…or “covering everything.” This tells us that our Faith should be “out in front” and “covering all.”

So the Shield of Faith is actually the armor’s armor! And if a soldier drops his shield, the other pieces of his armor are much more vulnerable! (Certainly an area of weakness for the enemy to attack with his flaming arrows!)

Therefore, we cannot drop our Shield of Faith! Just as the shield is to cover and protect the rest of the soldier’s armor, so it is with our faith! The Shield of Faith is meant to completely cover and protect us from harm. It is a defensive weapon that is “out in front” of all the other armor and…“above all” thus describing position…not importance.

Are you holding on to your Shield of Faith? Or have you dropped it leaving you exposed to the enemy’s attack…his flaming arrows?

We cannot drop our Shield of Faith! …we just can’t afford to! Faith was never meant to be held at our side or to be timidly held behind our backs. Faith is meant to be “out in front” where it can cover us as Christians.

We must continually have faith and trust God when the enemy attacks with his flaming arrows…We need to pray faith, speak faith, walk faith, live faith…hold up our Shield of Faith!

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2Cor 5:7 NASB

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2Cor 5:7 NIV

No matter how big our enemy looks to us….no matter how big our struggle seems to us…no matter how big our weakness is…put up your Shield of Faith and “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” Ephesians 6:16 KJV

Reflection Points:

1)      How are you fighting the enemy? Have you put on the “full” armor of God in preparation to fight?

2)      What about your Shield of Faith? Have you dropped your Shield of Faith allowing yourself to be more vulnerable to Satan’s attacks?

Action Points:

1)      Put on the full armor of God when fighting against the enemy and his schemes and above all, don’t drop your shield of faith!

2)      Build your faith with God’s word.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 5:17 KJV

3)      Pray and speak faith scriptures out loud to encourage and keep your Shield of Faith raised up!

 

 

 

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Laying Down Your Isaac

Years ago, when I surrendered my life to Christ, I pursued God with everything I had. I had just come out of an ungodly relationship with a man that ended in betrayal, disappointments, and very deep hurts. I was so determined to follow Christ…I was so done doing things my way……my way did not work…especially in the area of relationships!

About a year into my relationship with God, a young man appeared at my church who showed a great hunger for God. He caught my attention for a minute because of his passion and excitement for Jesus. I was determined to keep my focus on the Lord and would not allow him or anything else to become a distraction in my life…especially since I had struggled so much with relationships in my past.

 As I continued to grow spiritually, I didn’t know at that particular time that this man believed I was his wife. To make a long story short, mutual feelings began to develop between him and me, we began a relationship, and I had the expectation that we were going to be married soon.

As things progressed, we had to maintain a long distance relationship due to his job out of state. During this time we were apart, I felt that something just didn’t seem right. I began to see some things and began to question and wonder, “Lord, is this the man you have for me? I am not being treated like a gem or more precious than jewels and rubies…” (Proverbs 3:15, 31:10)

I expressed my concern to my Christian friends and church leaders. Their advice?…I didn’t have to stay in the relationship. My immediate thoughts were…“But no…he’s my husband!…he thinks I am his wife! This doesn’t make sense. I went through so many bad relationships while not living for God, and now I am living right and in a God honoring relationship with a Godly man. How can I walk away?”

Well, it happened to turn out that we had to end our relationship…it was just not working out. I had to lay the relationship down…lay it down at Jesus’ feet. I remember how hard it was to surrender it and lay it down! I believed I was going to marry this man! I was so hurt and disappointed. 

Is there something in your life right now that God wants you to surrender and lay down at his feet?

A relationship that isn’t Godly or just isn’t working out? ( I am not talking about marriage here.)

A death of a child or loved one that keeps you kneeling at the altar with an inability to get up and move forward? (I am not talking about the natural grieving process of losing a loved one.)

A great disappointment in your life that keeps you from living out the purpose and destiny that God has for you?

A career that you love so much but is affecting your marriage or family negatively?

An addiction or area of sin that keeps you from the blessings that God wants to give you?

A tragedy or painful experience from your past that continues to keep you paralyzed?

What do you do when God wants you to lay down something that means so much to you?

In Genesis 22:1-19, is the perfect example of laying down something in your life that means so much…it’s the story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac. Can you even imagine? I mean God asking you to surrender your child?…sacrifice him on the altar! This is exactly what God asked Abraham to do…surrender his son Isaac.

“Take your son, your only son–yes, Isaac, whom you love so much–and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”  Genesis 22:2 NLT

Ok…I want to give you a little more perspective here…It would have been enough if God had simply said, “Take your son.”  But He qualified this phrase in three ways…

1)      “your only son”…not forgetting Ishmael who was also his son, but meaning that Isaac was the promised son.

2)      “Isaac”…the son for whom Abraham and Sarah had waited for 25 years! 

3)      “whom you love so much”…which might seem as if God were mocking Abraham, but these words were meant to reassure him that God knew what he was asking.  By saying it this way, Abraham would know that God understood what it would cost him to obey and to trust him. 

How exactly do you do that? How do you lay down something you love or care about so much?

By surrendering 3 things…Abraham needed to surrender 3 things…his mind, emotions, and will.

Side note…it’s important to remember that Abraham is not a supernatural person or being…he was human…flesh and blood, no different than us…just like us with our thoughts, feelings, and desires.

 Mind

Abraham had to surrender his mind…his intellect…his thoughts. He had to surrender what made sense or in this case what didn’t make sense to him. I would venture to say that Abraham probably thought in his mind something like… “This makes absolutely no sense! …God promised us for years that we would have a son and now I am supposed to offer him as a sacrifice? How am I to be a father of many nations without a son to carry on? I don’t understand this at all!”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Proverbs 3:5

 Emotions

Abraham had to surrender his emotions…his feelings…his affections. When Abraham was walking up the mountain to build an altar with his son Isaac, I would think that as any parent loving their child, he was holding back the tears. Of course, his heart was crushed and burdened with this task that God had asked him to do. He loved Isaac so much!

 Will

Abraham had to surrender his will…what he really wanted to do. Like any of us parents, I am sure Abraham really wanted to grab Isaac and head back home, spend many more years with him and watch him grow up! But he surrendered his will for God’s will.  Abraham had to will to do the will of God in preference to his own will.

Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done. Luke 22:42b ESV

This was truly a test for Abraham…surrendering his mind, emotions, and will…surrendering his son Isaac. And is a test for us as well having to surrender and lay down something we care about so much…surrendering our thoughts, feelings, and desires.

As we continue to read on, we see that Abraham passed this test because God spared Isaac’s life and provided a ram to be sacrificed in his place. And we see that Abraham is blessed for his obedience…

I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me. Genesis 22:17-18

The first step in laying something down is surrendering our mind, emotions, and will just as Abraham did. I am going to take this story of Abraham laying down Isaac just a little further…

What in your life is God asking you to not just lay down today…but let go…and walk away?

You see …even though I laid my relationship down, it took me years to truly get passed the hurt. It was as if I climbed the mountain…laid down the relationship at the altar…but didn’t let go… and walk away! I was still kneeling at the altar…for 2 years!… with all the heartbreak and disappointments.

When you lay down something that you love and care about your faith and trust is tested…whether it’s laying down a relationship…the feelings of deep sorrow for losing a loved one…a great disappointment…a job/career you have worked so hard for…an area of sin that has enslaved you for many years…or past hurts and painful experiences.

Do you trust God enough that he will work all things out for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose? Romans 8:28

Do you trust God enough that he will heal your broken heart and restore you? Psalm 147:3

Do you trust God enough that he will provide for you? Philippians 4:19

Do you trust God enough that he will strengthen you and make you a slave to righteousness? Romans 6:18

Laying down something at Jesus’ feet is surrendering…giving up…handing over…something you may love and care about greatly. Laying down something you love and care about at the altar is not easy and even though there may be a time to mourn and grieve and feel sorrow, God also wants us to move forward. Don’t get me wrong, even this grieving process takes time and is different for everyone but there also needs to be a moment that you lay it down, let go, get up from kneeling at the altar and walk back down the mountain.

Some of us today need to lay down our Isaacs… some of us need to let go…and some of us need to walk away…back down that mountain, right to Jesus and His trusting arms. You will never know what’s on the other side if you don’t give it to him. It’s never easy but He is right there waiting for you…

As I look into my children’s eyes, I would have never known years ago that God had plans to bless me with raising 2 beautiful boys with a Godly husband who loves and treats me like I am more precious than any jewel…

 Reflection Points:

1)      Is there something you need to lay down at the altar?

2)      Are you still kneeling at the altar? Do you still need to let go? Or walk away?

3)      What is holding you back from surrendering what God wants you to lay down? Fear? Lack of trust? Lack of control?

 Actions Points:

1)      If you feel God is prompting you to lay something down at his feet, pray for the Lord to give you the strength, courage and trust to lay it down.

2)      Ask the Lord to give you Christian family/friends for support to move forward.

3)      Continue to read God’s word to encourage your faith and to keep you focused on Him and not the very thing you laid down.

How Persistent Are You?

Each week, my 4 year old son Connor is quite consumed and entertained by the garbage truck. I am so amazed at how a little boy is so obsessed with trash and seeing it picked up each week! He literally wakes up on trash pick-up days with his first words asking when the garbage truck is coming!

He doesn’t yet fully understand the concept of time, so each week I explain to him that the garbage truck does not come early in the morning. He usually comes around noon or in the afternoon sometime.

On one particular trash pick-up day, it was around noon and the garbage truck had not yet come.  Connor just couldn’t understand where the garbage truck was. So for the next 2 hours I had this 4 year old asking me…Can we go outside yet?…  What time is the garbage truck coming? …Can we go outside yet? …Do you hear it yet? …Is he going to come today? …Can we go outside yet? …Is he in the neighborhood yet? …Did he forget us today? …Can we go outside yet? …Is his truck too full? …Did he have to go to the dump to empty his truck? …Can we go outside yet?  

Over and over and over again he asked me these questions and wanted to wait outside for the garbage truck! Now mind you, I did answer him…repeatedly…, however, frustration began to emerge in my tone. I really did not want to go outside and wait for the truck not knowing when he was going to show up. Connor was so persistent that I finally gave in to his request to go outside and wait for the garbage truck. Shortly after we went outside, we heard the truck going down the next block. Thank you Jesus for not having us…really me! …wait out here for hours all afternoon!

What continually blows my mind about my children is their persistence!!!  Connor was so persistent and would not give up in wanting to see the garbage truck! And, we too need this child-like persistence with God! We too need to pray with persistence and not give up especially when God doesn’t give us an answer right away!

There are several definitions in the dictionary for the word “persistence”. It is defined as

  1. the state of continuing steadfastly or firmly in some state, purpose, course of action, or the like, especially in spite of opposition
  2. The state of lasting or enduring tenaciously; perseverance
  3. being insistent in a request, question, etc.; boldness

What is so cool to me is the Greek word translation!

The Greek word is the noun anaideia translated as “persistence, impudence” which literally means “shamelessness” and it also comes from the verb anaideuomai translated “to be unabashed, bold, literally meaning “shameless”.

Shameless!!! This suggests boldness…this suggests freedom from the bashfulness that would stop us from asking God a second time or a third time or a fourth time, etc! Like Connor…he had no shame…no bashfulness…but boldness in coming to me over and over and over again with his questions and requests to see the garbage truck.

The Parable of the Persistent Widow in Luke 18:1-8 may be a very familiar parable to you. This is a perfect example of Jesus showing us that we need to always pray and not give up. He tells us in verse 1 that he actually wants us to pray with persistence! He actually wants us to come to Him over and over and over again with our requests.

            18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

                4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

                6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about   justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

I believe this parable illustrates 3 points about our persistent prayers.

Persistent Prayers are…

1)      Insistent

2)      Consistent

3)      Expectant

I. Persistent Prayers are Insistent

The widow was insistent with her request. In verse 3, it says that the she kept coming to the judge with this plea, “Grant me justice against my adversary.” The widow was so insistent and persistent that the judge granted her plea!

We must keep our prayers going up to God with this same determination. God rejoices in our insistence. He wants us to pray and not to give up. This is one of His ways of releasing His power in our lives.

How insistent are you with your prayers?

II. Persistent Prayers are Consistent
The widow kept coming every day—repeatedly, consistently coming. Verse 5 says “this widow keeps bothering me. “ The judge’s apparent unwillingness to hear her spurred the widow on even more. Finally, the judge relented, only because the widow had become an unbearable nuisance.

Now it is very important for us to see that God does not feel the same way about us coming to him with our persistence… He does not see us as a bother or a nuisance. Jesus’ purpose with this parable is clearly stated in verse 1 that he wants us to always pray and not give up. He wants us to come to him consistently and repeatedly with our prayers like the widow going to the judge.

His point is further proven in verses 6-8 when he explains that if an unjust judge actually brings justice, then how much more would He who is just and faithful bring us justice? If an unjust judge grants the widow her plea, would not our God of justice grant us our pleas?

How consistent are you with your prayers?

III. Persistent Prayers are Expectant

Why would the widow go to the unjust judge insistently and consistently? Because she expected that he would grant her plea!

Expectancy drives us to pray persistently! Have you ever heard the phrase…“Prayer is the key to heaven but faith unlocks the door!”? We must have faith and expect that God is going to show up and answer when we reach out to him persistently. If we don’t expect it, then why should he do it?

God often answers us after long and persevering requests. He hears prayers and grants blessings long after they appear to be unanswered or withheld. He does not promise to give blessings immediately. He promises only that He will do it according to His will and plan.

Although He promises to answer the prayer of the faithful, often He requires us to wait a long time to try our faith. He may allow us to persevere for months or years, until we are completely dependent on Him, until we see that there is no other way to receive the blessing, and until we are prepared to receive it.

Sometimes, we are not ready to receive a blessing when we first ask. We may be too proud, or we may not comprehend our dependence upon Him. Maybe we would not value it, or the timing for it may simply be wrong. If what we ask for is good and accords with God’s will, He will give it at the best time possible.

Are you praying expectantly?

God wants us to pray persistently so that we focus on who He is…powerful…realize who we are…powerless… and see what is really important.

Whatever it is that you are praying for today…don’t give up! Pray persistently…Pray insistently… Pray consistently…And Pray expectantly!

Persistence…insistence, consistence, and expectancy certainly worked for my son Connor, didn’t it?!

Reflection Points:

1)      How persistent are you in your prayers?

2)      Do you give up when you don’t get an answer right away?

3)      Do you pray with expectation and have faith that God will answer your prayers?

Action Points:

1)      Keep praying…pray persistently and don’t give up in believing God will answer your prayers.

2)      Believe that the God you are praying to is a God of love, grace, mercy, and justice…a God who wants the very best for you and that his timing is perfect!

3)      If your faith in God waivers, continue to ask him to strengthen your faith. Keep focused on Him and who He is. Read and study the word so you can continue to grow in your knowledge in who is so that your faith will grow.

Why Fast?

Spring Training just ended and I am very excited to see my husband a little more often these days! My husband Billy is a rookie ball hitting coach for the San Francisco Giants and so when spring training rolls around each year, he is out of the house at 4:45am and he pretty much puts in 12 hour days for a month straight!

Now don’t get me wrong…I am far from complaining about his job which is an unbelievably amazing blessing to our family. This coaching job was given to us by the Lord over a year ago and to hear the incredible story of just how the Lord gave us this job…you need to check out my husband’s book “7 Day Fast” at sevendayfast.com.

During spring training this year, Billy began to struggle in the very area that is one of his greatest strengths…throwing batting practice to the baseball players. We couldn’t figure out what changed all of sudden! He wasn’t hurt but somehow mentally he was in a rut.

We began to pray because throwing batting practice is a very important part of his job. We couldn’t figure out how his mechanics and performance changed so suddenly. This pattern continued all through spring until last week when I decided to fast and seek the Lord for a breakthrough. I fasted for 24 hours…I basically had dinner Monday night and broke the fast with dinner Tuesday night.

And praise God! His throwing improved that very day and his performance returned as usual by the last day of spring training! It was truly an answered prayer and really had nothing to do with me but everything to do with God and his sovereign grace and mercy!

You see… truly amazing things can happen when you fast and I have personally experienced the power of fasting in my life! But please don’t misunderstand me…fasting isn’t some quick magic way of getting God to answer prayers and having Him do what you want Him to do in your life. What I do hope is to help you get a better understanding of fasting especially if you have never done a biblical fast before.

Fasting is one of the spiritual disciplines of Christianity. Spiritual disciplines are practices which we, as Christians, use to draw ourselves into a stronger relationship with Christ. Other spiritual disciplines include prayer, studying God’s word, worship, among others.

The biblical definition of “fasting” is the voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes.

The noun translated “fast” or “a fasting” is tsom in the Hebrew and nesteia in the Greek language. It means going without food. The literal Hebrew translation would be “not to eat.” The literal Greek means “no food.”

I know that some people may go without television, movies, or other things and they call it “fasting”. I’m not necessarily opposed to that definition of fasting…fasting does imply that we are giving up one thing in order to replace it with something else, and spiritually speaking, we specifically replace it with prayer and time in God’s word.

When you fast, you are denying yourself something that you believe you must have… and therefore, to stay consistent with the biblical definition and for the purposes of this blog, I will say fasting is voluntarily abstaining from food.

I recently heard a pastor preach that biblical fasting is a discipline of voluntarily denying oneself of food in order to increase time with God…not only the amount of time spent, but the quality of time. It isn’t a diet…it is time with God…it is a God encounter!

Even though there are physical benefits to fasting, this is not the purpose of biblical fasting. The goal of fasting is to have a personal encounter with the living God, to draw closer to Him, and to regain spiritual focus.

Have you ever done a biblical fast?

I am certainly not an expert on fasting but I have had some amazing and powerful fasting experiences in the last 12 years. I have been a part of a number of fasts since becoming a Christian…some corporately with my church and with others…and many alone by myself.

I have fasted for my family, myself, friends and for others behalf. I have fasted personally for breakthroughs, answered prayers, wisdom and revelation, guidance and direction, and thankfulness. I have fasted one meal to all meals….24 hours to 7 days. I actually know a few people who have done a 40 day fast too!!! (I wouldn’t expect anyone to do that unless the Lord has put that on your heart…and so far He hasn’t for me!)

The greatest thing I have learned through fasting is that I go into it with a certain purpose and come out with a greater revelation, understanding, and hunger for God.

You see it isn’t wrong to go in with a specific purpose like for instance, a breakthrough, but I realized through my fasting experiences the importance of seeking God’s face and not just His hand. What I mean by that is seeking God for who he is…developing a greater hunger and desire to know him intimately…and not just for what he can give me ie. a breakthrough.

Our motives are very important with spiritual disciplines such as fasting. The Lord knows truly what is in our hearts and therefore, we shouldn’t look at fasting in a legalistic manner. We shouldn’t be prideful and shouldn’t brag or boast about our fast. We shouldn’t tell everyone and portray that we are a victim suffering.

And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. Matthew 6:16 NLT

Side note…I also find it interesting that Jesus said in this scripture “when” you fast not “if” you fast.  Hmmmm….

I believe that as Christians, Jesus would like us to participate in this spiritual discipline of fasting. In the Old Testament, the Jews were commanded by Law to fast on certain occasions, but today fasting should be seen as a privilege and not a law…there is no command given to how often or how long we should fast …like prayer, it should not be done legalistically, but should be seen as a privilege.

So, what does the bible say about fasting and how does it benefit us? According to Isaiah 58, the following is a list of benefits…

1)      Revelation

2)      Healing and Wholeness

3)      Righteousness

4)      The presence of God’s glory

5)      Answered Prayers

6)      Continual guidance

7)      Contentment

8)      Refreshing

9)      Strength

10)  Work that endures

11)  Raising up future generations

12)  Restoration

There are many reasons and examples of people fasting in the bible as well. I have included just some of them here…

1)      David-fasted for his unborn son(1 Samuel 12:15-20)

2)      Ezra- fasted for safety and protection (Ezra 8:21-23)

3)      Daniel- fasted for God’s wisdom and guidance (Daniel 1:12)

4)      Esther- fasted for courage and wisdom (Esther 4:3,15-16)

5)      King Jehoshaphat- fasted for deliverance from opposing armies(2Chronicles 20:1-5)

6)      Elijah- fasted 40 days for spiritual recuperation and preparation (1 Kings 19:1-9)

7)      Moses- fasted 40 days for spiritual revelation (Exodus 34:27-28)

8)      Jesus- fasted 40 days for ministry preparation (Matthew 4:2)

9)      Paul & Barnabas- fasted for God’s guidance with the appointment of elders (Acts 14:23)

A biblical fast is not…

about our comfort.

about shedding a few lbs. (like many of us women think in the back of our minds!).

a diet or a toxic cleanse (although there are health benefits.)

about not eating food and going about our day…business as usual.

a means for comparison/ competition with another person.

about being legalistic.

A biblical fast is…

a sacrifice.

a discipline

about our motives.

having a greater a hunger for God.

seeking God’s face, not His hand.

a privilege.

There many different types of fasts…different reasons to fast….different ways to fast…different lengths of time to fast.

So practically, what do we need to do to prepare for a fast? It is very important to establish your goals and guidelines before you fast. Pray, seek the Lord, and see what he puts on your heart.

Why are you fasting?

Are you abstaining from all food or certain types of food?

Are you fasting from one meal or all meals, etc?

How many days will you fast? One day, 2 days etc.

Do you have a set time and place to meet God to pray and read the bible?

Before you embark on any fast or extended fast, it important to consult your physician. Also, if you have certain medical conditions that don’t allow you to abstain from food, you can fast from other things that you believe you must have in your life.

If you have never fasted before it is important that you start small…fasting is a bit like physical exercise, you want to train yourself…don’t jump into a 40 day fast and even a 7 Day fast with no training…you wouldn’t try to run a marathon with no training. Start by fasting one meal, then two, then do a 24hr fast.

One of my heart’s greatest desire is that you would draw closer in intimacy with God. And to see the power and amazing blessings of fasting! I guarantee you that fasting…and a lifestyle of regularly fasting…will change you! Because really…how can you encounter our living God, our sovereign almighty God,  and not be changed?

Reflection Points:

1)      Do you need to draw closer to God? Or regain your focus on Him?

2)      Do you need to strengthen your relationship with God?

3)      Do you want a greater hunger for God?

4)      Have you ever done a biblical fast?

Actions Points:

1)      Establish your spiritual goals and guidelines for your fast. Pray and see what the Lord puts on your heart.

2)      Determine the nature of the fast. Abstaining from solid food, specific foods, etc.

3)      Determine the length of the fast. One day? 2 or 3 meals? Longer?

4)      Establish a time and place to meet with God in prayer and reading the bible.