The late Dr. Myles Munroe was ministering on "The Power of Fasting" when he opened his suit jacket to the audience. He wanted the crowd to view his physical frame.
Keep in mind he was finely dressed for that meeting wearing a dark colored suit, a classy maroon colored tie against a light pink shirt, with gold cuff links that slightly peeked under his coat sleeves. Once he opened his jacket, however, you could see his clothes hanging quite loosely on him. He explained saying, "My church, my wife and myself have been on a 21-day fast."
He added, "This is what you look like after 21 days of no food. I'm here to tell you that YOU WON'T DIE!"
Stories like this are inspiring and intimidating all at the same time. I love the idea of going on an extended fast, but I'm pretty sure that I will die if I do! Fasting is something I struggle with. I just happen to be one of those kind, loving individuals who turns into a monster if they do not eat regularly. Hopefully you hear my humor in that statement, but to a certain extent, it's true. People with a sensitive physiology and low-blood sugar problems can take on a certain form of crazy when they haven't eaten on time.
Even so, I still fast on a regular basis. I just don't fast nearly as long as others, or I do partial fasts, meaning that I skip a meal or two each day for a set period of time. Even so, people who did long and extended fasts used to challenge my confidence. That is, until I understood the heart of God concerning this discipline.
In the Bible, we find a story about a widow who dropped her last two pennies into the offering box. She did this in front of the wealthier givers and was observed by Jesus in doing so. In response, Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything" (Mark 12:43-44).
If you struggle with fasting, too, I want to assure you that Jesus sees the little you do and counts it as being a lot. We do what we can do instead of what we cannot do. Our confidence then rests in knowing the heart of Jesus toward us, rather than in comparing ourselves to others.
We Are Meant to Fast
When Jesus introduced the Lord's Prayer to His disciples, He began by saying, "When you pray" (Matt. 6:6). Notice that prayer is not an if but a when matter. The same is true of fasting, as Jesus said in that same teaching, "When you fast" (v. 16). Jesus taught prayer with fasting, and this was a regular practice of the early church. It ought to be the same for us.
Accordingly, our church enters each year with either a 21- or 40-day fast. We encourage congregants to fast from food as God leads them to do so. Some fast a few days each week. Some fast a meal each day. Others fast the entire time.
Our church also gathers to pray during that time for specific ministry targets for the next year. In addition, individuals are encouraged to pray for their personal goals and needs. We have discovered that fasting contains a real turnaround element. We've seen turnarounds in regards to those with serious health and financial issues, salvations of difficult family members and much, much more.
The truth is, fasting is a game changer when it comes to unanswered prayer. Add fasting to your prayers, and your answers will come speedily (Is. 58:8). Fasting purifies our bodies, yes, but it also purifies our hearts. It empties us of unbelief and aligns our faith in such a way that we gain triumph over our enemies. We are expected to fast! Fasting is a when, not an if, matter.
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