Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fasting as a means of preparation...

I have been unable to move past the topic of fasting this week.  I believe it is an important part of our Christian walk and should be entered into with the leading of the Holy Spirit with a right heart and a prayerful heart.  There are many purposes for fasting.  My last post mentioned a few.  But perhaps one that can be overlooked is preparation.  Often we are searching for answers or for guidance and entering into a time of prayer and fasting is one method we can use to separate ourselves for a time so that we can focus clearly on the voice of the Lord. 

There is no better example of this than in Matthew Chapter 4.  But to get a good picture of what is happening, we need to look at the end of Chapter 3. 

Mat 3:16 And Jesus, when He had been baptized, went up immediately out of the water. And lo, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him.
Mat 3:17 And lo, a voice from Heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

So at the end of Chapter 3, Jesus was obedient by being baptized in water which is symbolic of dying to our old selves and being raised up a new creation set apart to God.  Chapter 4 begins with the Holy Spirit leading Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Mat 4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit up into the wilderness, to be tempted by the Devil.
Mat 4:2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterwards hungry.

The following verses through verse 11 we all are familiar with, I am sure.  The devil approached Jesus when He was probably at His weakest moment.  He had been fasting for forty days and nights seeking the will of His father, I am sure, for it was after this time that He began calling His disciples and started ministering.  Jesus resisted each temptation the devil offered Him.  He spoke the Word of God to the devil in response.  So, even though Jesus may have been physically weakened with hunger, He was spiritually prepared for the temptations of the enemy and replied with confidence in the Word of God. 

Jesus knew what Hebrews tell us:

Heb 4:12 For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing apart of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The Word of God is encouragement, it is hope, it is a strong tower, it is peace and comfort. The Word of God is also a weapon to be used to fight off the attacks of the enemy.  It is our means of victory.  We cannot be prepared to fight a battle with a weapon we do not know how to use.  We cannot use the Word of God to fight the enemy if we don't know what it says.  We have to have confidence that when we speak the Word of God, that it will do what it says.  It is mighty to the pulling down of strongholds, but we must be prepared

Fasting is a method we can use to help us prepare so that even when we are at our weakest, we can still use the Word of God effectively in victory over the enemy.  Preparation is important before any task is undertaken.  Jesus had to go through baptism, self-sacrifice, and temptation prior to entering into ministry.  We should do no less prior to moving into an area of ministry, or making a big decision that will have a major affect on our lives and on our families.   

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