Fasting, Prayer

Fasting and Prayer

Prayer Changes Things
Image by Colin Brough, Rgbstock

Praying Effectively with Fasting

Are you wanting your prayers to be more effective? James 5:16 says that a righteous person’s prayers are powerful and effective. That’s a wonderful promise! The requirement for powerful and effective prayers is living righteously. All it takes is a willingness to follow God by loving and obeying Him.

Sometimes, your prayers can be made more effective by fasting. The main purpose of fasting is to draw near to God, usually by giving up food and drink (other than water). When you’re fasting, you become more reliant on God and allow His presence to sustain you.

A Privilege, Not a Burden

Fasting should be considered a privilege and not a burden. The moment you feel that it’s a burden is the moment that you begin resenting God and the things of God. When you understand that it’s a privilege, then your suffering will turn to joy.

The Apostle Paul fasted often. Sometimes it wasn’t by choice, but he knew that nothing happened to him without God’s knowledge, so he would have taken the opportunity to commit those times to prayer as well. He understood how weak the flesh could be. He even boasted in his weaknesses, because he understood that it was an opportunity to lean on God’s strength and not his own. God even spoke to him directly and told him that power is perfected in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9‑10).

Fasting is your opportunity to connect with God on a deeper level. The desire for food is a huge drive in life, so when you lay that aside, you are driven towards God. It’s a time of you becoming less and God becoming more.

It’s harder to fast when you have to be around food. I remember the few times I fasted while serving as a missionary on board Operation Mobilization’s ship the Doulos. Those times weren’t easy, because I was a “pantry girl” and part of my job included serving food. Ironically, it happened more than once that the times I chose to fast ended up being days when there were leftover pastries from a conference being held on the ship. One time I gave in to the nice-looking food and broke my fast. Afterward, I realized that it wasn’t worth it and regretted my weakness. The next time I resisted and held to my fast, but then resentment toward God and fasting crept in. At this point, I realized that my attitude needed readjusting.

Is it okay for people to know that you’re fasting? Sometimes people might find out or need to be told that you’re fasting. There are also times when people choose to fast together. There’s nothing wrong with people knowing. People noted that Anna the prophetess fasted and prayed for many years during her widowhood in the house of the Lord (Luke 2:36‑37). The scripture that speaks about fasting in secret is about not trying to parade around to get credit from others (Matt. 6:16‑18). It’s your attitude and motive that’s important.

Reasons to Fast

There are different reasons to fast. Often people decide on doing a biblical fast with their hearts in the wrong place. They might with the desire to lose weight, gain worldly praise, or out of a sense of obligation due to social pressure. Losing weight might be an outcome of fasting but should not be your motivation. However, don’t make losing weight the reason for biblical fasting. It might be an outcome of your time fasting but should not be your motivation. There are also times in your life when you might feel more of a need to fast and other times less so. It’s best to be led by God and not by a feeling of I ought to.

In Isaiah Chapter 58, God rebuked the people because they fasted with hardened hearts. They wanted God to bless them, but they didn’t want to obey Him and do what’s right. While they fasted, they did as they pleased. They exploited their workers and they argued with one another, which came to blows. God told them that the kind of fasting He wanted was to end oppression and arguing and to feed the hungry.

It’s not a time to be selfish. My youngest daughter, Amanda, suggested that the money not spent on food during fasting could go to a feeding scheme. Such a simple and practical thing is doable. Just to be clear, I don’t expect children to fast and I don’t recommend it, but it’s certainly a topic that parents can discuss with their kids.

One reason people fast is to return to God. In the Book of Joel, God asked the people to return to Him with fasting, weeping, and mourning. He wanted them to tear their hearts instead of the outward tearing of their clothes (Joel 2:12‑13). In Isaiah, God told His people that if they obeyed Him with their whole hearts, then they would be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings (Is. 58:12). Unfortunately, it was not realized in their time, but we have been given the same calling as God’s children. How cool is that?

If there’s a need for returning to God after backsliding, then confessing our sins and being repentant is a good way to restore a broken relationship with God. The Israelites did so in Nehemiah Chapter 9 and the people of Nineveh in Jonah Chapter 3 during their fast.

Another reason to fast is for healing. King David fasted for his infant son’s health. It was also a time of grieving and repentance (2 Sam. 12:1‑23). This is reflected in Psalm 51, which he wrote during this heart-wrenching time.

Sometimes people fast for God’s protection or intervention. Esther and the people fasted for 3 days for protection (for Esther) and intervention (for the Jews). It was dangerous to approach the king unannounced, but Esther needed to petition him on behalf of her people (Est. 4).

Fasting can also be done when needing guidance from God. The believers in Acts were led by the Holy Spirit to set apart Barnabas and Saul (the Apostle Paul) for missionary work while they were worshiping and fasting. It seems like they were given guidance without even asking, but it happened while worshipping and fasting. After they had fasted and prayed, they sent them off (Acts 13:1‑3).

Another reason to fast is when asking God for help. During their missionary work, Paul and Barnabas chose elders and committed them to the Lord with prayer and fasting (Acts 14:23). They wanted God to assist the new elders in the work that they would be doing.

Ways to Fast

Just like there are different reasons to fast, there are different ways to fast. You might be in a situation where giving up all food and only drinking water is not good for you. No rule says you must fast, so first be sure that it’s something you should be doing before you start. If you do choose to fast, then you should decide how long and what you will fast.

Have you heard of the Daniel Fast? It’s a partial fast based on 2 accounts in Daniel. In Chapter 1 it says that Daniel and his 3 companions only ate vegetables and only drank water for 10 days. Daniel’s reason for this partial fast wasn’t to lose weight but to avoid being defiled by the king’s food. Afterward, it became their diet while in training at the palace. In Chapter 10 it says that for 3 weeks he gave up all choice food, including meat and wine. He was mourning over an upcoming great war that he had seen in a vision. Something less well known is that he also forewent all body lotions in those 3 weeks.

Christians today who choose to do the Daniel Fast usually decide on 3 weeks or, similarly, the 40 days of Lent. A partial fast is a good option for anyone who wants to fast for an extended time and also for anyone whose health would be adversely affected if they gave up all food.

Fasting isn’t only about giving up food. There are creature comforts that people can also forego while fasting. In several biblical accounts, people chose to put on sackcloth and ashes (or dust) while they fasted. Usually, this was done to humble oneself or for mourning. Daniel and Mordecai did so when seeking intervention from God for the future of their nation. Both of these occasions were a prelude to great change (Dan. 9:3 and Est. 4:1). Daniel also forewent body lotions in his 3-week fast (Dan. 10:3). King Darius gave up sleep and his evening entertainments while fasting for Daniel’s life to be spared (Dan 6:18). King David gave up sleeping in a comfortable bed and chose to lie on the ground in sackcloth while he fasted for his infant son’s life (2 Sam. 12:16). A married couple may choose to give up sex and devote their time to prayer, but only for an agreed amount of time, so they’re not tempted to sin (1 Cor.7:5).

E.M. Bounds understood the need to pray diligently because he believed in the power of prayer. He stated, “Our praying, however, needs to be pressed and pursued with an energy that never tires, a persistency which will not be denied, and a courage which never fails.” The more effective our prayers are, the more victorious we’ll be!

Tina Morley

Prayer, Real Church

The Ecclesia – “Thy Kingdom Come”

By Gabriel 77 http://www.rgbstock.com/user/gabriel77
Photo by gabriel77 http://www.rgbstock.com/user/gabriel77

Changing our World

The Ecclesia (or Church) is one way that God is able to govern and affect individuals, as well as all spheres of society. Christians (born-again believers), are able to bring personal and corporate issues to Him, as well as the social and environmental issues of this world. And, because Jesus has “all authority in heaven and on earth,” He is able to bring about God’s kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven”.

The scope and change that the apostle Paul envisioned possible through prayer is seen in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 where he writes, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.” “First of all” clearly shows prayer to have been priority for the early church (ecclesia).

Blockages to Change

Our lack of faith that Jesus really is Lord of heaven and earth and wants to respond to our prayers is perhaps the reason why we see so little change around us. This kind of prayer is no longer a key part of many of our meetings and, where it is, not all the members of the ecclesia come to its meetings.

Then, sadly, meetings are high-jacked by well-meaning leaders whose own views, on the necessity of prayer and people’s involvement, often shapes the meetings. Thinking of themselves more highly than they should, they place themselves above others and circumvent the authority of the Head of the ecclesia. As a result, much of the potential of the gathered body of believers is lost. (For more on this, see my posts on Hierarchical Leadership – The Number One Hindrance in the Body of Christ.)

Creating an Environment for Prayer

Our meetings must allow each member to participate. When it comes to prayer, everyone should feel free to bring and share prayer requests. Also, room should be given for anyone to share a related word from God, or even a dream or vision from God, and also to lay hands on those in need.

Our prayers make a difference! Pray and watch and see His kingdom come and His will be done.

Related post: The Ecclesia – The Gateway for God’s Kingdom

Rob Morley

Communion, Faith, The Good News

Defeated?!!!

Remembering the Victory
Remembering the Victory

The Devil knows that he is defeated and he also knows that he has no authority over a Christian’s life. However, being the deceiver that he is, he wants you to believe that he is still a threat to you and has authority over you.

It’s to the extent that we believe him over God’s word that we are defeated. Sometimes, he or his demons don’t even have to participate in defeating us, because our own thoughts, feelings or bad doctrine are enough to bring us down.

Our ultimate salvation is secure through trusting in Jesus’ work on our behalf at the cross. Yet, clearly, we can still have a hard time here on earth and be made ineffective for God’s kingdom through faulty faith.

Today, I read an article on the value of communion. I believe that, more than anything, it establishes us with the right perspective by reminding us of what has been done on our behalf to make us safe with God. Sharing communion isn’t just a nice idea left for us by Jesus. It is a way of armoring ourselves for battle! Consider these verses the next time you take communion and I believe that they will become more meaningful to you on a daily basis:

…be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Eph. 6:10-18).

When last did you have communion? Perhaps today is a good time!

God bless,

Rob

Prayer

GOOD VIBRATIONS!

Good Vibrations
Good Vibrations

Recently my mother was asked to pray at 11:11 on 12 December 2012. This was supposed to be an optimal time to pray. My mom thought that 10:10 would be just as good to God and dismissed the idea. Nevertheless, for those of you that missed 12 December 2012, 21 December 2012 is the next bumper prayer day.

Confused? Don’t be! Let me enlighten you!

It’s all related to the number11 and the increased vibrations associated with this number. Still confused?

Let me explain:

According to New Age thinking, each number has a corresponding vibration and the number 11 has increased vibrations. Meditating, chanting or praying on dates associated with the number 11 increases effectiveness because of the increased vibrations of this number. Last year, the date 11:11:11 was expected to give ideal conditions.

Missed this?!! Chances are you missed the recent one that my mom was told about too.

Don’t worry, as I said, you’ll have another opportunity! On a New Age internet site I found out about one coming up on 21 December 2012! You see, 12/21/2012 = 1+2+2+1+2+0+1+2= 11.

(This explained to me why, 12/12/2012 was also meant to be optimal for prayer. You see, 12/12/2102 is also1+2+1+2+2+0+1+2 = 11).

And, don’t forget the optimal time is at 11:11. Set your alarm! You would hate to miss this one too!

Born on a Day like this?

New Age belief claims that people born on dates associated with 11 have certain increased effectiveness and link this belief to the star-signs of Astrology.

Let’s get serious!

Numerology

Relating Meaning and Power to a Number in connection to the Spirit World

Anyone can assign meaning to numbers to convey a message. The problem comes when one attaches false meaning and the notion of spiritual power to numbers. For example, the number 13 is superstitiously believed to be unlucky. And, this idea that the number11 is special is another example of this.

But, you might ask, “The Bible uses numerology, doesn’t it?”

The ascribing of meaning to numbers is seen in the Bible, but it is far from the practices of New Age thinking that attributes spiritual power to numbers too!

Biblical Use of Numbers

Assigning Meaning to a Number

Numbers that were part of the life and history of the people of the Bible were also in a symbolic manner. For example, if a number was associated with an event in history, then a writer could allude or directly refer to that event by using that number in his writings.

Used symbolically, these numbers carried no power; they simply became a coded or figurative way of communicating. These numbers carried meaning much like a road sign has meaning, but has no power in and of itself.

Also, each letter in the alphabet was given a corresponding number. One could refer to someone by code without directly naming them. For example, the sum of the letters in Greek for Caesar Nero, is 666. John, the apostle, was very likely cautiously referring to the emperor in this coded form when He wrote what we know as the book of Revelation while in exile.

JESUS, MY GURU and MY GOD

God has been revealed to us in Scripture, and most completely through His Son, Jesus. You will not know God, real peace, truth, wholeness and meaning in life apart from faith in Jesus Christ as He is revealed in the Bible.

The name of Jesus is the perfect vibration! Call on Him today while He can be found! He is the only way to the Father! In fact, if you have met Him then you have met God!

Oh, by the way, the optimal time for prayer to God Himself is 24/7.

Rob Morley

 

Prayer

Praying to Angels

Should We be Praying to Angels?

A very popular trend over quite a number of recent years has been the “New Age” philosophy, which advocates praying to angels. Just by glancing through a bookstore you might have noticed that there has been a plethora of books written on this subject. Nowadays, a lot is posted on the internet too. But, are we meant to be praying to angels?

The Bible makes it clear that angels are real beings who are servants and messengers of God. Initiating prayer to them is certainly not taught in God’s Word and there is no example of this by Jesus, the apostles or the early church. As Christians, we have been given the inner compass of the Holy Spirit to guide and teach us alongside the Word of God.

Direct Access to God

We can pray directly to God to put His angels around us for protection, but we should not initiate contact with angels themselves. It cost Christ a lot for believers to be able to go directly to God Himself and enjoy a personal relationship with Him. Anyway, if you needed help, wouldn’t you go straight to the top?

The Bible is clear about where we should get our help from, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16).

Angels or Demons?

Praying to angels is a religious sham to keep people from the extraordinary blessing that one can enjoy as a believer of personally going to God. It keeps sinners entertained with a form of religion and is a trap for uninformed Christians. Demons, who are fallen angels, use this means to interact with people who engage in this practice. They come as angels of light and they are very willing to “help” people who reach out to them. Books on looking to your angel are all connected to the demonic. Don’t mix with this stuff! It’s dangerous!

Rob & Tina Morley

Prayer

Praying for Safety

I believe that it is scriptural to pray for safety. All prayer seems in some way to be by nature an expression of our helplessness and of our need to find security and safety in our loving God. I think specific prayer for safety at any one time is just one such expression of this. In the prayer Jesus used as an example for the disciples, the words “deliver us from evil” seem to me to have an element of prayer for safety in it. Also in John 17:15 Jesus is seen praying for his disciples to be kept “from the evil one.”

This doesn’t mean that when we pray for safety that God will answer as we wish, but our prayer nevertheless honors Him. After James was martyred in Acts, Peter was imprisoned, also to be killed. The prayers of the saints may have been instrumental in rescuing him from the same outcome, see Acts 12:12. In 3 John2, John prays for Gauis “that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes with your soul.”

This next scripture I believe also allows for us to pray for safety: “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6).

Having said that, physical safety is important, but like Daniel’s friends, it will not deter our faith should God not deliver us physically. Jesus also says, “Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” The well-being of our temporary body is important to God, but right now it’s not the number one goal of our faith.

By Rob Morley