Perry Stone
Perry Stone

In Acts 27, the apostle Paul was a prisoner on a ship with 276 passengers on board. Launching the voyage in the winter, the ship headed into a violent sea storm, called Euroclydon. The ship tossed like a leaf in the wind and was in danger of splitting into pieces. No stars or light from the moon was seen for many days, and because of the dangerous rocks and quicksand, it appeared that Paul and the passengers would drown in the murky waters. Paul had been on an extended fast and was praying for God’s intervention. God released a heavenly messenger to bring Paul this encouraging word:

But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’” —Acts 27:21–24

In the midst of a life-threatening storm, God sent assurance through an angelic messenger that the ship would be destroyed, but not one of the 276 passengers, many of whom were prisoners, would die in the process.

After Christ was baptized by John in the Jordan River, He was then directed by the Holy Spirit to spend days in solitude, fasting and praying (Matt. 4). After forty days, the tempter (Satan) came and began to harass Christ, demanding He prove He was the Son of God. The temptation involved three aspects:

■■ Lust of the flesh—turn the stones into bread to eat
■■ Lust of the eyes—throw Yourself from the high point of the temple so angels can rescue You
■■ Pride of life—bow and worship Satan, and he will give You the world’s kingdoms

Following the fast and the testing from Satan, Christ was physically weak, and the heavenly Father sent angels to personally minister to Him:

Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him. —Matthew 4:11

Toward the conclusion of Christ’s ministry, when He was in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, we read that, “Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him” (Luke 22:43). Thus, during the two most stressful moments in Christ’s life—His forty-day fast and prior to His crucifixion—angels were commissioned to personally minister to Him and strengthen Him. This would have included not only physical strength but emotional and spiritual strength as well.

During my earlier ministry, I lived what I call a “fasting life.” Instead of eating throughout the week and selecting a specific day to fast, I would often go days on end without eating, or eat only one time a day just to maintain strength. When fasting, my spiritual senses were sharper and keener, and I was able to discern both good and evil more clearly. I could also sense when there was a strategy of the enemy or some form of danger that lay ahead.

Early one morning, I departed from Northport, Ala., and was traveling by car on a four-hour drive to Mississippi.

I recall being very tired, and several times I found my eyes becoming heavy. I would play music and roll down the window to help me stay awake. Without realizing it, I dozed off. Suddenly I was struck in the back of my shoulders by what felt like a man’s hand. The sudden slap did not hurt, but it jerked me forward, awaking me. Unknowingly, I had already veered off the road and was driving head-on toward the corner of an interstate bridge. I had a split second to jerk the car away from the bridge and barely
miss colliding head-on with the concrete support. I began to cry because there was no one else in the car, and I knew the Lord had sent a heavenly messenger on my behalf to protect me.

Fasting is like a magnet that attracts your soul and spirit closer to the heavenly realm. Isaiah wrote about the power of fasting and revealed that a fast would: “loose the bonds of wickedness . . . undo the heavy burdens . . . let the oppressed go free, and . . . break every yoke” (Isa. 58:6). In verse 8 (KJV) Isaiah predicted: Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. —emphasis added

Notice that God will be thy “rereward.” Believers often read this as “thy reward,” but it is not reward but the word rereward.

In each of the other five biblical verses where the word rereward is used, it alludes to someone bringing up the back part of the camp or of being in the flank or the rear guard of an army. It has this same meaning in this Isaiah passage. When we fast and earnestly seek God, He has us covered from the back side. He can prevent the adversary of the Heavenly Messengers from a “sneak attack” that would catch you off guard!

In ancient Israel, the Syrian army would prepare secret battle plans against Israel, and God would reveal their strategy to Elisha, thereby warning Israel and preventing the success of the attacks. The Syrian leader discovered Elisha’s prayer life and sent an army to capture the prophet. One morning the prophet and his servant stood on a hilltop and saw a huge advancing army surrounding the mountain. Scripture reveals that Elisha was surrounded by “horses and chariots of fire” (2 Kings 6:17). This is an example of God becoming our rear guard and protecting our back.

Thus, not only does fasting diminish unbelief, renew our faith, and increase the level of God’s presence to break yokes and bondages, but it also helps form a protective hedge that will surround us.

Perry Stone is the best-selling author of numerous books, including Purging Your House, Pruning Your Family Tree and his book, Angels on Assignment, from which this article is adapted.

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