HOW TO FAST AND BE HEARD BY GOD

HOW TO FAST AND BE HEARD BY GOD

“Cry aloud; do not hold back;
    lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
    to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
    and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
    and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
    they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
    Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
    and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
    and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
    will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
    a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
    and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
    and a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of wickedness,
    to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
    and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
    the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
    and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
    and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And the Lord will guide you continually
    and satisfy your desire in scorched places
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters do not fail.
12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
    the restorer of streets to dwell in.

13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
    from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
    and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
    or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
14 then you shall take delight in the Lord,
    and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” – Isaiah 58:1-14

Motives color everything we do, but actions still count. Both matter, especially in spiritual matters. It is possible to go church, sing the hymns and praise choruses, pray and give and yet be offending God. I don’t want to be offending God, especially when I am supposed to be doing things to please him. Israel had this problem with their fasting.

When they fasted they continued to do business (seek your own pleasure) and oppress (mistreat and underpay, if at all) their workers. They were cantankerous; they would quarrel and fight. What was God’s response? Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. God isn’t interested in our religious show of fasting.

A fast pleasing to God has a goal to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke. It involves caring for the hungry and the poor instead of going about business as usual. This kind of fasting has as its goal to bring freedom, both freedom economically but more importantly freedom spiritually. People are not only held in bondage to debt or dead-end jobs but worse; people are caught in bondage to their sin and bondage to demonic spirits that want to consign them to an eternal hell.

I love God’s response to a proper fast.

then shall your light rise in the darkness
    and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And the Lord will guide you continually
    and satisfy your desire in scorched places
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters do not fail.
12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
    the restorer of streets to dwell in.

Isaiah ties a proper fast to a proper observance of the Sabbath. It is not to be just another day of doing business as usual and pursuing our own pleasures. I think it is worth mentioning that two of the most successful companies in their respective fields are Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby, both of which do not do business as usual on the Sabbath or Sunday. ( I know the difference so please don’t argue with me about Sunday not being the Sabbath.)

Again, the results of proper Sabbath keeping along with fasting;

then you shall take delight in the Lord,
    and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

I have stated before that my interest in fasting has been reinvigorated by recognizing that it appears by the observation of Disciple-Making Movements around the world to be an essential component that precedes these movements. Many Jesus-followers are concerned about the future of America, and it appears there is good reason. The solution to redeeming our culture and seeing the United States once again riding on the heights of the earth is not political or military might, but masses of pagan Americans bowing the knee to King Jesus and following the King of Kings rather than the Republicans or the Democrats or any other political party.

We must become effective, and God sotted followers of Jesus who become disciple-makers who make disciple-makers, who make disciple-makers. Then we will see a Disciple-Making Movement in our land much like those in the Global South. It is happening in other parts of the world. It can happen here, but only if we will give ourselves to a strong movement of prayer and fasting and walking in the Spirit.

Being disciples is not about better theology, it is about obeying God in Christ, being doers of the word and not hearers only. Join with me in fasting for a great Disciple-Making Movement in the United States.

IN DEMONSTRATION OF THE SPIRIT AND OF POWER: A CALL TO PRAYER AND FASTING

IN DEMONSTRATION OF THE SPIRIT AND OF POWER: A CALL TO PRAYER AND FASTING

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

I envy people whose minds work in a way that makes them excellent apologists and debaters. Unfortunately for me, I am not one of those people. I don’t have the attitude that apologetics is a waste of time and should not be engaged in. However, I do hold strongly to the position that no amount of logical reasoning or fancy philosophizing will bring anyone into saving faith in Christ.

Why am I so adamant about that? Because Scripture makes it abundantly clear that outside of Christ we are dead in our trespasses and sins. If you look carefully at the meaning of the word, dead, you will find that what it actually means is, dead. The last time I checked dead people couldn’t do anything for themselves. They are dead. So the question is, can a person be argued from death to life? I don’t believe so.

The New Birth is a miracle. It is a demonstration of the Spirit. It is a demonstration of the power of God. Dead people coming alive in Christ. No amount of words of human wisdom can accomplish that.

Paul’s ministry was characterized by many other demonstrations of the Spirit and power. Demon possessed people were delivered from their captivity. Sick and lame people were healed. Greatest of all, hearts were changed to become loving people and people of Jesus-like character.

There are millions of people within an hour’s drive of us who need to find this kind of forgiveness and deliverance. Some are afflicted with the kinds of bondage that Jesus said, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29 NKJV)

Prayer and fasting have been proven by experience to precede every disciple-making movement in this century. We have been commanded to go make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything Jesus taught. Part of what Jesus taught is this command to go make disciples. One of our prayer goals, if we are to pray Biblically, is for the Lord to raise up laborers who will make disciples. Of course, many of us need to heed that command ourselves. Disciple-making is one of the commands of Jesus we are to teach and to obey ourselves.

Thus, prayer and fasting. I know that I am not capable of making a disciple of Jesus. Only the Holy Spirit is capable of doing that. Which is why Jesus told his first disciples/apostles to wait in Jerusalem until they were endued with power before launching on their disciple-making mission. When our efforts to bring people to Jesus are heavily seasoned first with prayer and fasting, then we will see the demonstration of the Spirit and power. And we will see the multiplication of disciple-makers moving us closer to the completion of the Great Commission as well as the transformation of our community because its citizens will be transformed by the power of God.

Let us pray for the complete transformation of San Diego County (and your community for all of you out of my region) by the transformation of its citizens by the power of God in the gospel.

What a difference the Holy Spirit makes

What a difference the Holy Spirit makes

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. – Ephesians 1:15-23


Paul prays for the Ephesians for three things:

  1. That you may know the hope to which he has called you
  2. What are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints
  3. What is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe

These are powerful subjects, and I may treat them in a different post, but for now, I want to put the emphasis elsewhere.

Recently I was speaking with a brother who shared with me and some others that he had heard from some who said they intellectually really understand the gospel but find they don’t have the passion and emotional attachment to it that many others talk about.

I am currently listening on Audible to Jonathan Edwards’ classic book The Religious Affections: How Man’s Will Affects His Character Before God. I will undoubtedly be simplifying his statement, but here goes. True religion (speaking of Christianity in 17th century American English) always affects our emotions and has an emotional component to it. If we are not moved emotionally by the gospel and by God’s revelation of himself in Scripture, then the reality of our Christianity is questionable.  I know, this gets really dicey telling someone that if they don’t have an emotional experience they aren’t saved. Well, that’s not what I am saying, and I’m not sure what Edwards is saying about that; I am still in the early parts of the book.

What Edwards is saying is that powerful emotions are normative for a believer. Consider the deeply emotional passages written by David in the Psalms. How about Paul’s exultations over Christ in the epistles? There are many others.

I want to encourage any readers who find their emotional life with God lacking. I’m not writing that everyone should be “falling under the power,’ or dancing through the congregation every service. I am saying; you should have an emotional connection to Jesus Christ that is apparent to you and on occasion to others.

So, if you have an academic grasp of the gospel, but don’t have the emotional component (Which I am assuming everyone wants to have, how would it be to be in love with your spouse and feel no emotions?) there is an aid Paul refers to in his prayer. He prays for the Ephesians that God “may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened.” It’s a heart thing. Knowing in your head isn’t the same as knowing in your heart. The Holy Spirit is the agent who brings Jesus to your heart from your head. He comes as the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. He allows us to see with the eyes of our hearts, in addition to our physical eyes.

So, what is my solution to the problem of not having an emotional experience of God? Pray this prayer for yourself that Paul prays for the Ephesians. And don’t just pray once, memorize this Scripture and pray it every day. If you pray this from your heart, you will experience it in your heart. Of this, I am sure.

But I do caution, don’t gauge your experience by that of anyone else. Some of us, like me, are more on the quiet side of life. While I have been known to shout exuberantly in response to the preached word, I am generally more sedate than some of my friends. Two responses will mark the answer to your prayer; love and joy. These are the works of the Spirit that dwell deep in your heart.

Father of glory, grant to me the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Christ. Open the eyes of my heart. Enlighten me that I may know the hope to which you have called me. Enlighten me to know what are the riches of your glorious inheritance in me,  and enlighten me to what is the immeasurable greatness of your power toward us who believe, according to the working of your great might that you worked in Christ when you raised him from the dead and seated him at your right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  And you put all things under your feet and gave Jesus as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Make this your genuine prayer, and you will soon know the emotional joy and love that accompanies the gospel. The eyes of your heart will be enlightened to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures.

How to effectively pray for your children

How to effectively pray for your children

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. – 1 John5:13-14

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. – James 1:5

I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:14-21

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. – Philippians 1:9-11

…we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy… – Colossians 1:9-11

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.  – Ephesians 1:16-23

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. = Psalm 90:14


Every Christian parent aches for their children to have a deep and abiding faith in Christ more than anything else. Am I pollyannaish about this? I don’t think so.

I do realize that when things are going well, we tend to be more superficial. That is natural. But when the going gets rough, we tend to move toward the things of true value. Then our true desires for our children come to the forefront. We want them to truly know God and have that deep abiding faith that will carry them through the tough times in this life and on to the joys of the New Heaven and New Earth where righteousness dwells.

Whether your children are young or adults, we as parents still have a priestly duty to pray for them. When they are very young, our prayers are more prophylactic. We want to protect them from the ravages of sin and see them walk with God their whole lives. Many of us experience the pain of wayward children who are adults. We watch their unnecessary pain brought on by foolishness and sin. Our prayers for them, however, aren’t much different. I believe the most powerful prayers are those saturated with the Word of God. Pray the Word for your children.

I want to share a “sample prayer” with you. You may want to take this as is and begin to pray this way for your kids. You may see the pattern and have other Scriptures that better apply to your situation. This isn’t a formula but an example of how to pray the Word over your children.

THE JOY OF GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND YOUR PRAYERS

For some of us, it seems the sovereignty of God precludes prayer. On the contrary. The sovereignty of God facilitates powerful praying. Because God is sovereign, I can have the confidence that he can and will change my wayward child’s heart. If I didn’t have confidence in his sovereign control, how could I pray in faith that he will change a heart to love God and walk with him?  “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” God’s sovereignty is my comfort.

If you’re not sure how to pray for your children, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

SAMPLE PRAYER

Father, for my children, I pray:

Strengthen their hearts with power by your Spirit in the inner man so that Christ will dwell in their hearts by faith. Being rooted and grounded in love, may they comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge and be filled with all the fullness of God. I trust you to do this because you are “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.”

May their love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that they may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

May they be filled with the knowledge of your will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,  to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to you. May they bear fruit in every good work and increase in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to your glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.

May you give them the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of God, having the eyes of their hearts enlightened, that they may know what is the hope to which you have called them, what are the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints,  and what is the immeasurable greatness of your power toward us who believe, according to the working of your great might  that you worked in Christ when you raised him from the dead and seated him at your right hand in the heavenly places,  far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

May my children be fully satisfied every morning with your steadfast love so they can rejoice and be glad all the days of their lives.

I pray these things for my children’s good and God’s glory in Jesus name, Amen.

Read this prayer over, and you will see that it applies equally to bringing up young children as well as older prodigal children. Remember, “For the promise is for you and for your children…” (Acts 2:39)

PERSEVERANCE IN PRAYER

Parents, join me as we take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for your children. (Ephesians 6:17-18) I know you will find faith growing in your heart as you pray God’s word over the lives of your children even if the circumstances appear hopeless. Nothing is hopeless with the sovereign God who turns the hearts of kings. He can turn our children’s hearts just as easily.

Parents, I pray that you will be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy as you stand steadfast for your children.

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