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Fasting

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By Teri Spears & Thetus Tenneys

Why do we fast?

Scripture gives a strong precedent for fasting. This spiritual discipline was practiced by Moses, Elijah, Esther, Jesus, Paul, Nehemiah, Cornelius, David, Hannah, and others.

Throughout the Old and New Testament eras and during the last two thousand years, fasting has been a primary way for people to humble themselves. God will hear us and respond to our cry when we come before Him in humility and brokenness. We must acknowledge and repent of our sins.

Fasting humbles the natural man, and if coupled with prayer, makes our spirit more sensitive to God. Fasting is never used to bribe God. It is not only an act of self-denial but also of submission to God’s will. Fasting brings revelation by the Spirit of a person’s true spiritual condition causing brokenness, repentance, and change. It illuminates the scripture.

Fasting transforms prayer into a richer experience; it brings personal revival which will spill over into our family, church, and community.
– Revival came to Israel when they fasted and repented.
– Nehemiah fasted and the walls were rebuilt around Jerusalem.
– Cornelius fasted and an angel appeared.
– Anna fasted and prayed in Luke 2 and saw Jesus.
– Esther saved her family and nation by fasting.

Do we want results and anointing? Then we must sacrifice and fast. In these days of troubled families, a troubled nation, and a troubled world, we need praying and fasting people for salvation and preparation for the coming of our Lord.

The great revival in Ethiopia began with five women who gave themselves to days of prayer and weeks of fasting. Hundreds of thousands have now been filled with the Holy Ghost. What hinders us? If five women can turn the tide of a nation, what can one thousand or more of us do?

Our fast should always have a purpose. It is not a food-free marathon we go on to raise our rank in the Kingdom. It is to build our spiritual man by removing the power of the flesh from our life so we can concentrate on the things of God. Jesus did not say, If ye fast…, He said, When ye fast… He expects and requires fasting from us. Our two biggest enemies are the devil and our flesh. Both are weakened by fasting. The spiritual man gains strength while the physical man is weakened. Our flesh must be put under subjection so the Spirit can have preeminence in our life.

A true spiritual fast is not a diet. It is not just going without food. It is a time of drawing closer to God. One of the greatest benefits of fasting is becoming more attentive to God, becoming more aware of our own inadequacies and focusing on His adequacy, then listening to what He wants us “to be and do.”

Fasting is not for Him to “to be” or “to do”. He is; He has already done His part. Now it is left up to us. Fasting empowers. That power will enable us to better reach our communities and our families.

We should not fast for ego purposes or to impress others. We only do this unto the Lord. Fasting is not intended to put us on a guilt trip. If we accidentally eat something then remember we are fasting, we should not be discouraged. Keep on fasting; do not give up. When we feel so weak we can hardly go on we could eat raisins, nuts, honey, juice, or something healthy. Eat a small amount for strength and keep fasting. Do not feel guilty. Just keep at it!

We should not view fasting as a punishment, though our bodies may rebel at first. Fasting should be viewed as a precious opportunity to get closer to God while not distracted by the daily focus of eating. God responds to our sincerity when we willingly humble ourselves. To be humble before God requires personal sacrifices.

Arthur Wallis links our “bondage to food” to a “leakage of spiritual power.” He points out that many Christians mistake the lust that enslaves them for a natural and healthy appetite. When we fast, we are producing fruit–especially the fruit of self-control. Fasting brings surrender of body, soul, and spirit to God.

The chosen fast in Isaiah 58:6-14 give us these purposes for fasting:
– To loose the bands of wickedness
– To undo the heavy burdens
– To free the oppressed
– To break every yoke
– To act compassionately toward the needy
– For health
– For cleansing
– For righteousness
– To enter into the glory of the Lord
– To hasten God’s answer
– To live in light
– For continual guidance
– To repair breaches
– To restore paths

These purposes become benefits.

– Victories
And they… fasted on that day… (I Samuel 7:6 ).
So the Philistines were subdued…and there was peace… (I Samuel 7:13,14).
– Deliverance from enemies
…Jehoshaphat…proclaimed a fast… (II Chronicles 20:27).
…for the Lord had made them to rejoice over their enemies (II Chronicles 20:27).
– Spiritual understanding
…to seek by prayer…with fasting… (Daniel 9: 3).
…come…to give…. understanding (Daniel 9:22).
– Strengthens prayer
…I was fasting…thy prayer was heard (Acts 10:30,31).
– Blessings
…when ye fast… (Matthew 6:16).
…thy Father…shall reward thee… (Matthew 6:18).
– Guidance
As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said… (Acts 13:2).
– Authority over Satan
…and in those days he did eat nothing… (Luke 4:2).
…Get thee behind me… (Luke 4:8).
– Power for the supernatural
…this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21).
– Decision making
…and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord… (Acts 14:23).

The scriptures reveal many benefits for fasting. God will respond to our seeking after Him through prayer and fasting.

How do we fast?

Fasting can be done in many ways.

Several kinds of fasts are mentioned in the Bible.

– One day fast: consists of any twenty-four hour period or sunup until sundown or from the evening before until 3:00 pm.
– Three day fast: not partaking of food for three days.
– Daniel fast: vegetables, fruits, and grains only.
– Restricted fast: abstaining from certain desired foods, or giving up one meal a day.
– Extended fast: It is best to prepare our body for an extended fast by eating only fruits, vegetables and grains for a few days preceding the fast. Some choose to omit caffeine. This fast can extend for a week or up to forty days.
– Total Fast: A total fast excludes all solid food; we only drink water. (The extended total fast in the scriptures was under supernatural direction.) A non-total fast excludes all solid food, but can include juices, herbal teas, and broth.

Because water acts as a cleansing agent for the body, we recommend it not be excluded when fasting. For someone on medication or under medical supervision, consultation should be made prior to fasting.

Fasting brings blessings and benefits. The result is to glorify God, both in the person who fasts and for those whom we fast and pray.

The above article, “Fasting” is written by Teri Spears & Thetus Tenney. The article was excerpted from pages 38-48 of the authors’ book Prayer.

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

Posted in AIS CD - Apostolic Books, AIS CD - Featured Stories, PR - Prayer Ministry1 Comment

15 Ways To Make Your Prayer Life More Meaningful!

By Charles Grisham

1. MAKE TIME FOR PRAYER!

Many Christians never learn how to pray because they do not make time for prayer. Notice we did not say, “find time.” If we try to “find” time for prayer, chances are we will never pray. You’ll “find” it one day and “lose” it the next! Unless it is a habit your prayer life will always suffer. The solution is a consistent prayer habit. David says, “In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” (Psalm 5:3) David had learned the value of a systematic daily prayer habit. Don’t try to find time–make time for prayer…daily.

2. FIND A QUIET PLACE FOR PRAYER!

To really enhance your prayer life we recommend you find a special place for prayer. Jesus said, “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet…” (Matt. 6:6) Our Lord was not speaking just of an attitude in prayer but a specific place for prayer. Further, Jesus not only talked about this, He practiced it. The Garden of Gethsemane was His special place. Daniel had a chamber. Isaac prayed in the fields. Habakkuk had a watchtower. Every Christian ought to have a special place for prayer. Select an unused bedroom, or clean out a closet. Do it today!

3. RECOGNIZE GOD FOR WHAT HE IS!

All prayer should begin with a recognition of the nature of God because it is precisely God’s nature that gives us confidence that our prayer will be answered. To recognize God’s nature is called praise. The Lord’s prayer (Matt 6:9-13) begins with a statement of praise– “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” This model prayer also ends with a statement of praise–“for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” All prayer should begin and end with praise. It is the gate-pass to heaven (see Psalm 100:4).

4. THANK GOD FOR WHAT HE HAS DONE!

Not only should prayer begin and end with praise, but it should be seasoned throughout with thanksgiving. Praise is defined as adoring God for what He is; thanksgiving is thanking God for what He has done. The latter involves “specifics” Paul suggested we thank God for “all things.” He told the Philippians that all “prayer and supplication” should be offered with thanksgiving. The next time you pray make a mental list of all God has done for you. Review past gifts from God. Gratitude is a great atmosphere in which to petition the father.

5. CONFESS YOUR FAILURES!

Early in each prayer time we need to consider this matter of confession. The Psalmist reminds us, “If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me.” (Psalm 66:18) Scripture makes it clear that unconfessed sin blocks the channel between God and the prayer. A daily prayer habit gives us special time to evaluate our spiritual condition. Confession is a prerequisite to powerful praying. Willful sin and prayer are totally incompatible. This, a vital part of our prayer should be this “time of self-examination.” Take time to confess!

6. PRAY WITH GOD’S WORD!

George Mueller, the great orphanage leader of the last century, was known for his tremendous faith in God as well as his powerful prayer life. Without a doubt the secret lay in the fact that George Mueller never prayed without an open Bible. He had learned the power of God’s words to Jeremiah, “Is not my word like as a fire…and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces.” (Jer. 23:29) Mueller used God’s Word as a hammer in his prayer, breaking down Satan’s strongholds. Praying with God’s Word is praying with power.

7. DON’T GIVE UP!

Jacob provides us with a unique example of one who persisted until he received a desired blessing from the Lord. He said, “I will not let thee go except thou bless me.” (Gen 32:26) Many believers begin their journey of prayer with great intentions, only to give up as the going gets rough. Persistence is a prerequisite to spiritual power. When it comes to prayer, we must declare as the psalmist, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.” (Psalm 57:7) Do everything you can to strengthen your prayer life. We want to help you discover greater heights in prayer. Be sure to order the meaningful book on prayer, NO EASY ROAD; INSPIRATIONAL THOUGHTS ON PRAYER. If you desire an even closer examination of the power of prayer, order the “Prayer Warrior’s Prayer Library from our office. It is true. “More things are wrought
by prayer than this world dreams of.”

8. MEDITATE IN GOD’S PRESENCE!

Meditation is not only meaningful but vital to balanced praying. The Psalms begin with this statement, “Blessed is the man that…delights in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he mediate day and night.”
(Psalm 1:1,2) The only verse in the Bible that mentions “success” is a command to meditate day and night on God’s Word (Joshua 1:8). Take at least five minutes during your daily prayer period to meditate on what
God has said to you through His Word. It will give you a whole new perspective for that day.

9. SING A NEW SONG!

Many Christians are rediscovering the joy of singing aloud during prayer. In the Bible singing is vital in worship. We recall how Paul and Silas were arrested and jailed for preaching the Gospel (Acts 16:25). God’s servants are found singing praises. Since they did not have hymn books, their songs must have come from the heart. The Psalmist spoke of this as “singing a new song” (not sing my songs!). Because you are alone with God you won’t have any embarrassment. Make up simple choruses. It will be a new joy–just between you and God.

10. PRAY MUCH FOR OTHERS!

The next three points for practical praying concern intercessory prayer–prayer that is offered on behalf of others. Every prayer time should have a significant portion devoted exclusively to praying for others. Christ’s model prayer does not begin with My Father, but with the expression, Our Father. Not once does the prayer emphasize the personal pronoun “I,” “me,” or “my.” Christ’s prayer says, “give us,” “lead us,” and “forgive us.” The emphasis is clearly on others, stressing the importance of devoting much of each prayer time to intercession.

11. PRAY FOR WORLD EVANGELISM!

When praying for others nothing is more important than their spiritual well-being. Millions of people around the world are waiting to hear of Jesus. Jesus Name Apostolic believers around the world are praying that the oneness of God will be revealed and that a dynamic out- pouring of the Holy Ghost will come to every field of labor. Pray For World Evangelism.

12. FOCUS YOUR PRAYERS!

Intercessory prayer should be focused on every nation of the world. David prayed, “Thou therefore, O Lord, God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to visit all the heathen.” (Psalm 59:5) Our Foreign Missions Division can provide you with a map of the world. We recommend you divide the 210 countries into seven groups of thirty countries, praying for one of these groups each day of the week. Every week you will be able to visit the entire world, country by country, in prayer.

13. PLAN YOUR PRAYER TIME!

Develop a plan of attack before going into your prayer closet. Always keep a prayer list. You will be more organized as you pray. To help the prayer warrior pray systematically and intelligently for the world, we suggest you pray for the various continents in a systematic way. Learn something of the people, cultures, and situations of the area. Your strategy in prayer will enable you to more effectually support the missionaries and workers in that area of the world.

14. LEARN TO FAST AND PRAY!

Fasting is the practice of deliberately abstaining from usual nourishment for the purpose of adding power to our prayer. A wise writer once said, “All men who have had spiritual power to prevail with God and man, have been men who learned to sternly deny themselves and keep their bodies under.” Jesus made it clear that some spiritual victories can only come through fasting and prayer. (Mark 9:28,29) Set aside at least one meal per week, or even an entire day, for prayer and fasting. Focus this intense prayer on nations closed to evangelism, e.g., China.

15. FIND A PRAYER PARTNER!

Jesus, the Master prayer, taught that praying with others increases prayer power. He said, “…If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 18:19) Our Lord made it clear that special power is released when two people agree over a given matter. Find a prayer partner who can join you at the same time you pray, even if they live hundreds of miles away. Write for extra copies of these prayer insights, maps and booklets for these praying friends.

 

(The above material was prepared by the Apostolic Institute of Development.)

Christian Information Network

Posted in AIS File Library, BS - Bible Studies, BSRP - Prayer0 Comments

Hospital Visits

Ernest Maunder

Make no mistake: some people in your congregation-and others who are connected to your church-will end up in the hospital. When this happens, you can provide great comfort to the hospitalized person and to his or her friends and relatives.

You may visit the hospital to share in the joy of new parents who have given birth to a perfectly healthy baby. But you may also visit with a terminally ill person who has been knocked down in the prime of life. And no matter why people are hospitalized, they all have different personalities, different spiritual experiences and very different feelings about being in the hospital. These differences can make preparation difficult, but your visits can always bring a sense of hope to even the darkest situations as you share the comfort, love and peace of God.

The following guidelines will help you deal with your own uneasiness in these situations as well as the patients’ varying needs.

Prepare Yourself

Help From Scripture
There’s no better way to be prepared than by being familiar with the Word of God. God gave us his word “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17), and our calling as pastors requires that we be “thoroughly equipped.” That means becoming so familiar with scripture by reading and meditation that our words and actions rise out of a familiarity with it.

The words of Scripture are often extremely helpful in hospital visits. It can be helpful to memorize selected Bible portions so that the words come to mind at the right time. Here are some verses you might memorize or at least be ready to read:

– Deuteronomy 33:27
– Job 19:25-27
– Psalms 16:7-11; 23:1-6; 32:1-11; 33:13-22; 34:1-8; 84:1-12; 91:1-16; 103:1-22; 130:1-8; 139:1-18; 147:3
– Isaiah 40:27-31; 43:1-3a; 55:6-9
– John 3:16; 11:25; 14:1-6
– Romans 8:22-39
– 1 Corinthians 15:50-57
– 2 Corinthians 4:13-18
– Ephesians 2:4-10
– Philippians 1:6; 3:20-21
– Revelation 21:1-5

Remember that the process of reading, memorizing and meditating on Scripture will be used by the Holy spirit as you visit the hospitalized person.

You might also take along a hymnal or chorus book. If you can sing reasonably well, do so, quietly, if the patient is comfortable with it. Ask the patient to join you if possible. Singing an appropriate song at an appropriate time can make your visit both memorable and comforting.

Know the Patient
If you don’t know the patient well, learn as much as possible about him or her before you visit. Ask yourself these questions to determine how well you know the person:

– Is the family situation a positive one? Is the family supportive?
– Is the patient without family?
– Are finances a worry?
– Is the patient usually shy, outgoing, arrogant, humble or…?
– Where is the person spiritually?

The more you know, the better the visit, since your knowledge will enable you to speak words that fit. If you know another member of the family well, ask him or her a few questions about the individual you’re planning to visit.

Make the Visit

Remember that every visit you make is a new one. Each person is different. And the patient may seem quite different in the hospital than at home or in church. The pressure of sickness, surgery and hospital practices can bring out the best or the worst in people. A patient’s response to that pressure may surprise you. That’s why you must remain flexible. Follow a set pattern that puts you at ease when you enter the room, but be ready to change course as the visit proceeds. with this in mind, here are some guidelines that can help during the visit:

Visit when It’s Appropriate

If you think in terms only of your own schedule, you’ll be frustrated by the quality of your visit. Typically, you should also take into account the schedules of the patient, the hospital and the doctors. In the morning, patients seem more alert, but a morning visit may conflict with a doctor’s early rounds. Just before or after lunch, hospital staff and doctors are least apt to interrupt, but it may be difficult for you to be there at that time. Late in the afternoon, the energy level of many patients wanes. Ask God to make the timing of your visit right for the patient and for you.

Be cheerful, but Never Flippant

A helpful passage comes from the book of Proverbs: “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:13). God teaches us to have a happy heart, but remember that the heart of the person you are calling on may very well be aching, leading to a crushed spirit. Your task may be to lift that crushed spirit. Ask God to give you sincere cheer and to reveal it in the proper measure to the person you’re visiting.

Be sincere

Sometimes people are exceptionally perceptive when facing death or a life that will change because of a lingering illness or a disabling injury. Be sure that your “happy face” comes from a cheerful heart and not from a practiced smile. Don’t let your position tempt you to pretend a piety you don’t have or don’t feel. Answer questions with all the insight that the Lord gives you. But be scrupulously truthful. Only God knows all the answers.

Give Compassionate Responses

Study the following questions, and carefully consider how you will answer if a patient asks you any of them.
“Why is this happening to me? I’ve always tried to lead a good life!”

“Do you think God is punishing me because…” (followed by a confession or admission of guilt).

“Why does God let these things happen?”

Prayerful study will allow God to use you to provide appropriate answers. (Also see “Life’s Tough Questions” beginning on page xx.)

Read or Recite Scripture

The nature of your visit will greatly depend on the person you’re visiting. very sick people or those in pain usually can’t tolerate a long visit. Reading Scripture might prolong the visit too much. If a doctor arrives to see the patient, that’s probably a good time to end the visit.

Others love to hear the word read to them. They may have a favorite passage in mind. It’s good to ask, but be ready if they ask you to choose something. (see the list of recommended Scripture verses on page xx.)

Listen Well

Sometimes people need to talk. Give them the opportunity. It’s important that you hear the words that come directly from a person’s heart and mind. Talkative patients may take the conversation in a different direction than you had planned, but ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into what is just right for that visit. If you have listened well, it will certainly help you on your next visit.

If the Patient Approves, Pray

Most hospitalized people welcome prayer and may expect it of you, though occasionally someone may object. In every case, ask if the patient would like you to pray with him or her. Of course, if a health-care worker is waiting to see the patient, be thoughtful and courteous. Just bear in mind that many hearts have been comforted through prayer.

Remember that long prayers aren’t necessary. Praying too long may exceed the attention span of an uncomfortable hospital patient. A few words can be as effective as many.

End well

Finally, never forget that you have come for the benefit of the patient, not yourself! Don’t think about your visit as one more task to check off your schedule. As a servant, your call is to minister to the patient, not to fulfill a task. Conclude the visit with prayer and a friendly good-bye. Patients will appreciate the question “Is there anything I can do for you?” while the answer will usually be “no,” don’t ask unless you are prepared to respond to a request.

“Hospital visits.” Ernest Maunder

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. AS the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”

Posted in AIS File Library, BS - Bible Studies, BSMS - Miscellaneous Bible Studies0 Comments


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