Day 21, May 23
SEEK GOD FIRST
As we conclude our 21 days of prayer and fasting, it is important to ask, “Now what?” How can you remain committed to seeking him? Very simply, decide to love God and seek him. That’s right, decide. Look for opportunities to spend time with him and to learn from himdaily. Decide to chase after him and not the things of this life that quickly distract us from him daily. Give him your whole heart daily. Look for him in each day, through people, circumstances, the Bible, and creation.
It will take intention, effort, desire, and time. But it will be so worth it as your relationship with him grows, develops, and you fall more and more in love with him. Will you continue to earnestly seek after the God of this universe who loves you completely and desires to walk with you daily? The reward will be great because God is great!
Psalm 9:10: “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (NIV)
“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.” St. Augustine
Our failure to act on what we know God is calling us to do not only breeds doubt and discouragement; it’s a form of disobedience.
What is God calling you to do?
Day 20, May 22
Fasting has its spiritual rewards. One of the rewards of fasting is experiencing the guiding hand of God in our lives.
A correct perspective of God is vital because it determines how we interact with him. For instance, if we think he is concerned only about the big events in world history, we won’t bother to pray about our daily concerns. However, if our view of him is grounded in the scriptures, we’ll readily seek his guidance, knowing that he cares about every aspect of our life.
Despite this assurance, there may be times when we are so determined to get what we want that we don’t even ask for God’s direction. Instead, we plunge ahead, thinking that he will simply stop us if our decision is not according to his will. But the Lord won’t necessarily prevent us from doing that which is not his will, nor will he always come to our rescue if we have acted presumptuously without seeking his help.
A better approach is to do as David did. He said, “I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8 NIV). The omniscient heavenly Father has provided everything we need to live wisely through his Word and his Spirit. As those who know and love him, we should desire to please God by seeking his direction in every area of life. The Lord is certainly willing to guide us through the ups and downs of decision-making. But we must pay attention to the instructions in his Word and to the promptings of his Spirit, who is our helper, teacher, and guide.
Then like David we can say, “I will praise the LORD, who counselsme” (Psalm 16:7a NIV).
Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. (Psalm 119:33-35 NIV)
“Every time I have fasted, I have found my worship experience sweeter. I found the illumination of God’s Spirit brighter and my hunger for God’s Word stronger. Through my fasting God has guided me, comforted me, challenged me and corrected me. It is not that I have bent God toward me through fasting, but that I, through fasting, have bent my heart toward him.” Gary Rohrmayer
Father in heaven, I want to experience your guiding and empowering hand on my life. There is nothing like knowing that the hand of the Lord is on my life. Today I intentionally bend my heart and my will toward you and your ways. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Day 19, May 21
THE PRESENCE OF GOD
Are you being surprised in your fasting experience? God loves to surprise his children by satisfying them with his presence.
One of the most important things about spending time with God is encountering His presence. His presence is meant to be at the core of all that we do. God so hated separation from us that Jesus was sent to pay the ultimate price. At Jesus’s death the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from mankind was torn in two—signifying that God’s presence was no longer contained but made available to everyone.
Psalm 139:7-8: “Where can I go from you Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” (NIV)
Psalm 84:3-4: “Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young- a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.” (NIV)
God’s presence is everywhere. There is nowhere you could go that He won’t be with you. There is no situation, conversation, job or place in which you can’t meet with God.
So how do we encounter the presence of God? How do we experience His nearness? Encountering God is similar to encountering another person. I don’t seek an experience with a friend; I simply seek to know him by spending time with him and gain an experience as a result. I don’t seek to hear the voice of a friend; I simply engage in conversation with him as an act of wanting to know him and hear his voice as a result.
The only thing about seeking God that makes it different is that He is spirit rather than flesh.
John 4:24: “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (NIV)
But it’s for that very reason that we can truly know him! Scripture is clear that God is everywhere and that the Holy Spirit dwells within us. His presence is already with you. Encountering him is as simple as taking some time to become aware of his nearness.
God longs for you to know him. So great is his desire to meet with you Spirit to spirit, heart to heart, that Jesus gave his life. Take time to simply seek God. Meditate on his word. Allow Scripture to fill your heart with faith. And make space to rest in God’s presence that your heart might come alive at the revelation of his nearness.
Psalm 16:11: “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (NIV)
“The rewards of fasting are not often instantaneous but are experienced over time. They come as surprises, like in the midst of a worship service when my soul is stirred and strangely satisfied. Or when I am reading the Word and my inner being is lifted beyond this world with a fresh perspective. Or when I am in prayer and the groaning of my heart experiences a peace that is unexplainable. I have found the rewards ultimately lead to a more intimate and satisfying experience with the God who made me, saves me and fills me.” Gary Rohrmayer
Father in heaven, today during my fast may I experience the amazing satisfying nature of your presence and experience the refreshing power of your abiding strength. Father, for your honor and glory I want to be like a well-watered garden, like a spring that never runs dry. When people see me, I want them to see you. Let it be In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Day 18, May 20
To stand firm is an action step. Regardless of how you feel or what you see going on around you, you are given authority to persevere, persist, hold your ground, be attentive, brave, and to grow stronger in the mighty power of God.
When you feel alone, know that God is with you. When you are afraid, know that God has not given you a spirit of fear but of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). When you feel guilty, know that God does not condemn you for your mistakes, but He wants to restore you and forgive you (John 3:17).
When you are feeling stressed, know that God wants to give you rest as you spend time with Him (Psalm 62:5). When you feel defeated, know that you are an overcomer (Romans 8:37), and that Jesus enabled you to walk in victory when He died and rose again (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Stand firm in the promises of God; stand firm and trust in His unfailing Word!
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:10-12 NIV)
“We must not adopt the world’s view and then tweak it to make it Christian. We must draw a line in the sand and stand firm in the radical teachings of Christ and His gospel. We must preach the truth and be the examples of the truth we preach.” ~ Paul Washer
Father God, today through my fast I seek to be better prepared for the spiritual battles that I am engaged in. I choose to stand firm in you. I choose to live my life by the truth of God and not by the lies of the enemy. I choose to live righteously and not selfishly. I choose to live by faith and not by sight, extinguishing every attack from the enemy. I choose to live by the power of the Word of God. In the name above all names, Jesus Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.
Day 17, May 19
SOURCE OF LIGHT
Fasting can bring light into our darkness and clarity to our confusion. Darkness is the absence of light. Trying to go after it directly is like chasing your shadow. Only light is powerful enough to make the darkness disappear. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it clear that we are the light of the world. We are called to shine. But the light we share is not our own.
From the very beginning of creation, God has been the source of light both spiritually and literally. Genesis 1:2b-3 says, “Darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (NIV).
Imagine a world full of darkness. Then with four small words, light blazes forth. Every living thing in our world relies on light for its existence – plants, animals and people. The God who brought light to the world also brings it to our lives. 2 Corinthians 4:6 says, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” (NIV)
We can learn from the light bulb that thought, “I have to find a way to shine!” The light bulb went to a self-help meeting to learn about its inner capacity for light. It read books about how to get brighter. Each morning the light bulb would get up and recite positive affirmations. “I am a light bulb. I believe in myself. I will shine!” But nothing happened.
Eventually the light bulb became weary and discouraged. It began to doubt who it was and what it could do. It almost burned out completely. One day the light bulb was carefully placed in a fixture. Light burst forth and filled the room. The light bulb finally understood. The key is not to try harder but to plug into the source.
Trying to shine on our own is exhausting. We’re called to be closely connected to God and remain in Him. When we do, His light pours forth through us in powerful, brilliant ways that change the world.
Like the moon reflects the light from the sun, we are to reflect the light from the SON!
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)
“By aligning our hearts with God through fasting and prayer, we find ourselves consumed by his resplendent nature. This is like the sun breaking forth through the early morning darkness. This breakthrough comes as he turns the gloom and confusion of our darkness into his light of love, joy and peace.” Gary Rohrmayer
Father of Light, as I fast today, blast through the darkness I am facing with the light of Your love. Transform the gloom of discouragement with the hope of Your pure light. Help me see through the falsehood of darkness and behold the blazing truth of your light. Help me share your love, joy and peace. You are the hope I need and the one light that will never burn out, be overcome or fade away. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Day 16, May 18
In Luke 2 it talks about how Jesus was lost and his parents didn’t even know it. They sought for Him and, after a few days, they found Him in the temple.
It’s amazing that those who were closest to Jesus lost His personal presence. And that’s what fasting is really all about. Fasting is saying, “Lord, I feel distant. I know I’m saved. I know you love me and I know that I love you, but I feel like I’m losing your presence in my life. I want your presence in an intimate way, near me again.” The Bible said his parents found him in the temple. Today, as you fast and pray, ask God to open your eyes so you will find the personal presence of Jesus. Ask that God’s presence will be felt in our church, your home, family and life. Ask God to perfect His image and will in your life.
Today, may the Lord open your eyes to the presence of Jesus; His healing presence, His delivering presence, His refreshing presence, and His encouraging presence that drives fear away. Let His presence refresh your soul, fill you with courage and boldness, and let fear melt off of you today.
What an amazing thought that the God of the universe thinks about you…a lot. So many people see their relationship with God as all one way – praying to God, worshiping God, and learning from His Word. But there is a whole other dimension when you consider that God wants to speak to you about you. Like any other relationship, it’s a two-way communication. You’ll never have a public powerful manifestation of God’s power and glory until you have a private conversation with God in prayer.
Father, in the mighty name of Jesus, I pray today for the power and presence of Jesus to be real in my life. May I find you and experience your presence and as I subdue my flesh and control my appetite today, refresh my spirit, replenish my soul, heal my wounds and strengthen my will to carry out your desires. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Day 15, May 17
Fasting is a means of seeing spiritual breakthrough for physical or emotional problems as well as finding freedom from the habitual sins that affect our relationship with God. Today focus your prayers on hurts, habits and hang-ups that you need spiritual healing to overcome.
No matter what kind of healing you’re waiting for, Jesus has already offered us the gift of ultimate spiritual healing in him, greater than any earthly healing we can imagine. Rather than succumb to worry, choose to believe that God is in control, no matter the outcome. Sometimes when our circumstances feel overwhelming, our prayer can simply be “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Isaiah 58:6: “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loosen the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” (NIV)
“More than any other discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside of us with food and other things. If pride controls us, it will be revealed almost immediately. Anger, bitterness, jealousy, strife, fear – if they are within us, they will surface during fasting. At first, we will rationalize that our anger is due to our hunger. And then, we know that we are angry because the spirit of anger is within us. We can rejoice in this knowledge because we know that healing is available through the power of Christ.” Richard Foster
God, you are the great physician, you are the healer of my soul, you are the one who grants victory over my emotional wounds that are the cause of my destructive thinking and debilitating habits. Thank you that when broken people like us are placed at your feet, you touch us in ways we couldn’t imagine and you heal us in places only you can see. May I experience a new level of freedom and victory as I lean into you today. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Day 14, May 16
Psalm 73:26: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (NIV)
Lamentations 3:22-24: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’” (NIV)
Have you ever noticed that nature doesn’t resist God? Think of the little seed that is planted. It’s pushed down into a place that’s dark and messy. Then it must go through a death of sorts. The seed must cease to exist as a seed as its shell starts to disintegrate and crack open before life can spring from it. When it follows God’s design, life springs from the seed, pushes through the dirt, and finds life in the light. Who would have thought that a glorious plant could come from a tiny seed in a dark place?
What would have happened had the seed resisted God and retained its original shape? It would have avoided the trauma of change, but think of all it would have missed out on. It would never have known God’s best. How we are so like that little seed at times!
God is way more interested in developing our characters to match our calling than in manipulating our circumstances to make us happy.
If you were to ask most people if they desired a life of extraordinary faith, they would probably say yes. So why aren’t more people living out this desire? Because they confuse brokenness with being sidelined by God. Brokenness is what must happen before God can put the pieces back together in the way He can shine through the best.
Day 13, May 15
Psalm 118:24: “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (NIV)
John 17:13: “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” (NIV)
Our feelings do not have to dictate our choices. We can choose to believe and walk in that belief with our head held high and our confidence sure in the Lord.
Many people, including Christians, believe that God wants us to be happy. But happiness is often confused with the joy we read of in Scripture. Being happy is a feeling of bliss or a mood that is dependent on other people or circumstances. Joy is a gift from the Holy Spirit!
Joy is God’s intentional gift of His presence. Jesus came to live among us, speak the truth of God’s unconditional love for us, and take away our sin through His death and resurrection. No matter what circumstances surround us, we can live in the joy that we are His precious children. We are made whole in the promise of Jesus.
“I don’t always feel like being nice and pleasant, but I can choose to in order to honor God. We live for His glory, not our own pleasure. Dreading things does not glorify God. He wants us to live aggressively, to be alive and face each day with courage. How would any parents feel if their children got up each day and said they feared and dreaded the day their parents had prepared for them? They would, of course, feel terrible. God is a parent- He is our parent.” Joyce Meyer
This day has treasures for us to discover. We will find treasures of truth and treasures of God’s presence if we choose to look for them. If we walk through this day with our head downcast, we’ll miss the treasures. We’ll miss His presence. We’ll miss His assurance. And for sure we’ll miss out on rejoicing and being glad in this day.
Moments of happiness are a delight, but we can rejoice in the always-present joy that is the foundation of our life in Christ!
Lord, I thank you for moments of happiness and, more importantly, for the never-ending joy of being your redeemed child. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Day 12, May 14
Fasting is rewarded because it is a cry from the heart of those who find their ultimate satisfaction in God and in God alone.
What does it look like when our deepest desires are transformed by Jesus? The answer is a satisfied soul. As we become aware of our deepest desires and offer them to Jesus, we discover that what we long for most deeply is most fully satisfied in Him.
Every person in the world wants to know what will make him or her happy. We’re all desperately seeking for the person, place, or thing that will meet our expectations, needs, and wants. What will truly satisfy the desires of our heart?
We were designed for more than the trivial pursuit of pleasure. The hard truth is that we will never find relief if we continue to seek it through possessions or through people. Seeking satisfaction in the things of this world is like chasing the wind. Once you’re finally exhausted and weary from your pursuit, you’re left empty-handed and disappointed. You’ve wasted valuable time chasing nothing when you could have been pursuing true joy and peace.
The problem is our hearts are black holes of discontentment, devouring relationships and possessions, all while screaming, “I need more.” We’re always eating, but famished. Always drinking, but never satisfied.
Why do people cheat on their spouse, abuse drugs and alcohol, mindlessly binge-watch ridiculous amounts of television, scroll endlessly on Facebook and Instagram, steal, or commit suicide? All of these things and more happen because people are dissatisfied and haven’t found happiness. At the root of our dissatisfaction is a never-ending thirst that nothing in this world can satisfy. We’ve been duped into thinking that a better job, more money, cooler friends, another spouse, or a new life is really what we need. And if we can’t obtain any of these things, or when they leave us dissatisfied, we resort to drug abuse, sexual immorality, or senseless entertainment.
We can only be satisfied when we realize there is someone greater than people or possessions that can truly satisfy. God offers us himself in the person of Christ. Jesus exceeds our expectations, provides for our needs, and fulfills our desires. Christ alone can provide the satisfaction and joy we so desperately seek.
Seeking satisfaction in Christ alone serves two purposes: It is for our good and for the glory of God. We reap the benefits of knowing, loving, and delighting in Jesus. The Father gives us peace that surpasses understanding and provides for all our needs according to his riches. No good thing is withheld from us and all things work together for our good. Living in light of these truths proclaims to a discontent world that Jesus is better than anything the world has to offer. As we look to Jesus to make us truly joyful, we also proclaim to a world in need that only Christ can truly satisfy.
KEY PASSAGEPsalm 73:25-26: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (NIV)
Day 11, May 13
You have God’s attention, so press in. Ask questions and allow Him to reveal truth to you. Worship Him and tell Him you love Him and be intentional about becoming aware of His presence in your home, your office, your car or wherever you are. The ultimate reward of Christian fasting, and the “best of all” purposes is God himself, His presence. Write EVERYTHING down that He shows you so you can remember it and press in through prayer.
Fasting is not mainly about what we go without, but who we want more of. Fasting is feasting on Jesus!
“We (Christians) are always in the presence of God. There is never a non-sacred moment! His presence never diminishes. Our awareness of His presence may falter, but the reality of His presence never changes.” ~ Max Lucado
We carry God’s Kingdom wherever we go!
Father God, help me to be aware of your presence daily during this time of prayer and fasting. Let it be a time of gratitude, revelation, repentance and joy. Help me to continue in this fast with constant awareness of your presence as I feed on your beauty, truth and goodness. May every growl of my stomach, every internal complaint and headache be turned into moments of dependence on you and delight in every spiritual blessing I have in You. In the precious name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Day 10, May 12
When we work out, we break down our muscle fibers so they can be built back up even stronger. In much the same way, fasting breaks down our pride, our bondages, our will. It helps us break bad habits and build good habits. Fasting is the way we break down our spiritual calluses and regain sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
God is honored when we ask Him to do what is humanly impossible. That way God gets all the glory!
The more specific our prayers are, the more glory God receives. If our prayers aren’t specific, however, God gets robbed of the glory He deserves because we second-guess whether or not He actually answered them. Well-defined prayers give God an opportunity to display His power in new ways. Well-developed faith results in well-defined prayers, and well-defined prayers result in well-defined answers.
Don’t worry about when God answers or how God answers. That isn’t our responsibility. Just pray and share with others when those prayers are answered!
If we lay a foundation of prayer, God will build something spectacular on top of it. If we intercede like never before, God will intervene like never before.
The purpose of prayer is not to get what you want; the goal of prayer is to discern what God wants, what God wills. But if your prayer is in the will of God, then it is backed by the full authority of the King and His Kingdom! (Just think about that for a minute.)
The greatest tragedy in life are the prayers that go unanswered because they go unasked.
What have you been holding back from God in prayer?
Pray those bold prayers, keep praying those bold prayers, and let God receive all the honor and glory.
Lord, I ask that you give me a vision of all the possibilities for my life. Open my eyes in areas where I may be blind. Give me your wisdom and guidance. Help me to understand the life you had intended for me when you created me. Show me my life from your perspective, Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.
Day 9, May 11
Let your thirsts drive you to God that he may satisfy your desires and meet the needs of your soul. We are looking at a wholehearted life in Jesus by walking through thoughts, emotions, desires, choices and answering the question, What does wholehearted life in Jesus look like in each area? What does it look like when our deepest desires are transformed by Jesus? The answer is a satisfied soul. Here’s the definition: As we become aware of our deepest desires and offer them to Jesus, we discover that what we long for most deeply is most fully satisfied in Him.
As you read the passage below, ask the Spirit to enlighten the eyes of your heart to know and understand God’s Word:
John 7:37-39: “Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” (NIV)
What is your soul thirsty for? Another way to think about this question is to ask: What do you want most out of life? What are the deepest desires of your heart? What longings do you have that you hope will one day be fulfilled? What things, activities, people, or daydreams do you go to in attempts to quench your thirst? What might it look like for you to go to Jesus with your thirst? How might you tangibly live out His invitation to come to Him for your deepest satisfaction?
Pray a prayer expressing your desire for a satisfied soul and asking God to work in you toward that end by His Spirit. Start a conversation with God about the desires of your heart. Name the things you most long for in life. Describe to Him what your soul thirsts for. Acknowledge that He created you with deep longings and thank Him for the gift of your desires.
Confess to Him the things you have turned to with your thirst that have not satisfied your soul (Jeremiah 2:13). Be specific as you confess your sin and acknowledge His forgiveness that is immediately yours in Christ (1 John 1:9-10).
“Prayer needs fasting for its full growth. Prayer is the one hand with which we grasp the invisible. Fasting is the other hand, the one with which we let go of the visible….Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.” Andrew Murray
Ask Jesus to help you know how to respond to His invitation to bring your thirst to Him and drink. What should you do? What is your next step? Ask Him for specific help and guidance right now.
Based on your faith in Jesus, thank Him for the promise of “rivers of living water” flowing from within you (your heart!). This is a reference to the Holy Spirit in you (John 7:39).
Close your time of prayer by thanking God for one thing He did in your heart during your time with Him today.
Day 8, May 10
REPLACING VS. ABSTAINING
Fasting is more about replacing than it is about abstaining — replacing normal daily activities with focused praying, confessing, feeding on the Word and worshiping the Lord.
Fast and pray in order to humble yourself and purify your worship. In fasting we are not trying to get something from God, but seeking to realign our hearts’ affections with His. In fasting we can more readily say, “I love you, Lord, more than anything in the world.” Fasting enables us to cleanse our hearts from every other rival.
Take time to pray and read the Word. This may seem obvious, but busyness and distractions can keep you from devotions. This must be a time of true engagement, not just checking the box.
Expect to hear God’s voice in the Word, dreams, visions, and revelations. Daniel prepared himself to receive revelation through fasting (Daniel 10). Expect a deeper intimacy with God.
If you fail, don’t give in to condemnation, which is not from God. The “to fast or not to fast” dilemma can be a major tool of the enemy. Even though you may fail several times, God always extends grace. Just hit the “reset” button and continue on your fast. Breakthroughs often come after a fast, not during it. Do not listen to the lie of the enemy that nothing is happening. Every fast done in faith will be rewarded in some way by God.
Nehemiah 9:1-3: “On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads….They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God.” (NIV)
“We tend to think of fasting as going without food. But we can fast from anything. If we love music and decide to miss a concert in order to spend time with God, that is fasting. It is helpful to think of the parallel of human friendship. When friends need to be together, they will cancel all other activities in order to make that possible. There’s nothing magical about fasting. It’s just one way of telling God that your priority at that moment is to be alone with him, sorting out whatever is necessary, and you have cancelled the meal, party, concert or whatever else you had planned to do in order to fulfill that priority.” J. I. Packer
Father in heaven, as I fast today, I desire more than anything to seek your face through heartfelt prayer and honest confession, feeding on your word and offering gratitude and praise in response. I love you and I am grateful for every opportunity to sit at your feet. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Day 7, May 9
HEARING GOD SPEAK
So how do we hear the voice of God?
The first thing to do is open your Bible. When you open your Bible, God opens His mouth. The surest way to get a word from the Lord is by getting into God’s Word. God will speak to you. Then God will speak through you.
In the process, make sure you have no unconfessed sin your life. Sin doesn’t just harden the heart; it also hardens our hearing. In fact, it makes us turn a deaf ear to God because we don’t want to hear the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit. But if you aren’t willing to listen to the convicting voice of the Spirit, you won’t hear His comforting voice, forgiving voice, or merciful voice either. Sin creates relational distance, and distance makes it harder to hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. But if you get close to God, you won’t miss a thing He says. And if you incline your ear to God, God will incline His ear to you.
Fasting is like noise cancellation. It helps tune out the voices we shouldn’t be listening to and tune into God’s frequency.
The true hunger pains we feel during a fast serve to remind us that self-denial is indeed taking place. Fasting no doubt brings power to our praying because it costs us something that we can actually feel.
Philippians 2:13: “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (NIV)
Lord I want You to be the top priority of my life with nothing even close in second place. Help me, Father, to love You more than I ever have before. I want you to fill my heart, all of it, so your love and grace can flow richly through me to everyone I come in contact with.
Pray for God to create spiritual hunger in you and in his people at Covenant Fellowship and draw us to passionate prayer. God has to grant people the genuine faith and fervent desire for prayer. We cannot produce a genuine prayer movement on our own.
Set your heart to doing God’s word. And set your heart to giving God’s word away.
We can fast for deliverance from the yoke of bondage. We can fast for the discernment to make a decision. We can fast for favor. We can fast to dedicate something to God. We can fast for a financial, relational, or emotional breakthrough. Or we can fast simply to seek the heart of God.
“Fasting helps to express, to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, to sacrifice even ourselves, to attain what we seek for in the Kingdom of God.” Andrew Murray
Day 6, May 8
Fasting is ultimately a spiritual yearning for something missing. Something was previously experienced but now is absent from our lives.
“In a Judean wilderness, David cried out, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1 NIV).
At the time, David was being hunted by Saul, who felt that he was a threat to his kingdom, and at times David became weary in body, wondering if he would ever find peace. No doubt he wondered if he would ever be able to go back home to Bethlehem and sleep without concern for his safety. Yet David did not say that he longed for the comforts of home and a taste of his mother’s cooking. No, he cries out that his soul is thirsty for the God in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Do you have times in your life when you grow weary of the battle and your soul cries out to God? You long to know Him in a deeper and more intimate way, stripping away the layers of misunderstanding and perhaps fear which has kept you at a comfortable distance? David said that his body, his innermost being, longed for God–something intense and deeply personal. Have you ever considered the possibility that it was God who placed that yearning, that deep longing in your heart so that He Himself could fill it? God not only created the thirst but knew that He was the only thing which could satisfy the deep longing within.
How does God satisfy that longing within your heart? Or what should we do to know Him more intimately and personally? Have you discovered when you are really thirsty, sugary products just don’t satisfy? You don’t want coke or syrupy juices which are half sugar. What you want is water—crystal clear, pure, and cool. Nothing satisfies like a refreshing drink of water on a hot day. If you want to satisfy the deep longing in your heart for God, get rid of the sugary substitutes. Paul spoke of the washing of water by the Word. He was talking of the purity of the Word which lets you know and experience God as He is.
To know God intimately, you must find times to get off media and insulate yourself from the noise that keeps you from hearing His voice. We need those quiet times, those personal intimate times without cell phones, smart watches, computers, TV, anything that prevents you from hearing God’s voice. To experience God in a real way, tell Him of the deep longing in your heart to know Him and to feel His presence.
In another Psalm David cried, “Now I’m reaching out to you, thirsting for you like the dry, cracked ground thirsts for rain.” (Psalm 143:6 TPT).
God, fill my life with a deeper awareness of your presence and power in my life. Grant me a deeper hunger and thirst for you than for the creature comforts the world offers. I want to know You. Give me victory in this today. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Day 5, May 7
Remember to accompany your fast with confession of sin. Confess your sin, your spiritual weaknesses, your lack of dependence on God. How many times have we heard that confession is good for the soul? The important thing to remember about confession is to open yourself to God and not hold back. Confession goes beyond seeking forgiveness for our sins. Confession is a way of drawing close to God and developing an intimate personal relationship by sharing the private side of our lives with Him. If we are honest with ourselves, sometimes we do wrong. People struggle with secrets, and whether it is sin or thoughts of sin, Jesus welcomes our confession. We should share our heart with Him, our whole heart. Just lay it out – He knows it all anyway, and if there is sin, He’ll forgive us. Or if we struggle with sin, He’ll help us to overcome it. Living the Christian life is a journey, not a destination. Every step of the journey brings us closer to conforming to the image of Christ. Holding back from Him stunts our spiritual growth. Letting go and confessing to God releases us into His forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Forget about your pride and draw close to Him. We have His promise that when we draw close to Him, He will draw close to us. Confess and receive the promises of God. We should remind ourselves that the Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NIV). We should keep short accounts with God by confessing our sins and our innermost thoughts daily.
1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (NIV)
“Confession recognizes the absence of God’s presence in our lives through our own willfulness, indifference and independence. Fasting is an act of craving more of God’s presence, power and purity in our lives and ministry. Confession is admitting there is something wrong between us and God. Fasting is longing for the fullness of God to flood our souls. When we practice confession in our fasting, our fasting becomes more than a tool to bring God back to us; it becomes an instrument moving us back to God because God never moves.” -Gary Rohrmayer
God, show me through this fast those areas of spiritual weakness and self-reliance in my life so that I may confess them and receive your healing, cleansing and purifying forgiveness. I want to experience a new level of spiritual refreshment and strength that can only come through You. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Day 4, May 6
“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
(Deuteronomy 8:2-3 NIV)
Fasting is a struggle against the flesh and is emotionally and physically demanding; in this we discover what we really hunger for. Hunger and thirst are the body’s way of telling us that we are “empty.” Our natural response to physical hunger and thirst is to seek food and water to satisfy our need. Each Christian has an inner longing that only Christ’s righteousness can satisfy. But we cannot be filled with righteousness if we are filled with self.
Throughout the Scriptures God emphasizes that the one who longs for Him with all his heart will find Him (Jer. 29:13). As we crave righteousness, we will repent of our sin, and God will remove it from us. Our selfishness will be replaced by the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22–23). The Spirit will make us more like Christ.
Righteousness is not to be taken lightly, nor is it easily attained. Holy God does not give His righteousness to people indiscriminately. He gives it to those who know they cannot live without it. Our desire for personal righteousness must be powerful, all-consuming, dominating everything we do. Pursuing righteousness means that we value the truth of God far more than we treasure the opinions of people.
Righteousness is not merely an absence of sin. It is allowing God to fill us with His holiness
(Romans 6:11). It is being like Christ. Jesus is our model of one who sought God’s righteousness first, and then the Father glorified Him. We are not only to seek the kingdom of God, but we are also to pursue His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). If we will hunger and thirst for righteousness, we will be satisfied!
“Do you have a hunger for God? If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. If we are full of what the world offers, then perhaps a fast might express, or even increase, our soul’s appetite for God. Between the dangers of self-denial and self- indulgence is the path of pleasant pain called ‘fasting.’” John Piper
Day 3, May 5
ATTITUDES AND MOTIVES
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18 NIV)
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8 NIV)
Your heart attitude really does matter. You could be doing the right things for the wrong reasons. Prayer and fasting are private disciplines that bring public reward. In the Scriptures, Jesus emphasized fasting as a private journey. But there isn’t a badge of honor for how much you suffer during your prayer and fasting season. When we’re motivated by the public’s perception, we undermine the spiritual reward. As God honors the pure in heart, this is the perfect season for an attitude check.
Value the process in your secret place. As Daniel prayed and fasted, no one saw his relentless commitment, but the angel of God was fighting for him during what seemed to be the silent moments. It was his secret perseverance that led to his breakthrough.
Humility in prayer cancels your self-dependence in fasting. A lack of personal prayer is actually a form of pride. Despite the well-intended excuses, the underlying attitude is that we’re self-sufficient without God. While prayer and fasting are physically demanding, avoid the temptation to be self-absorbed in your journey, feelings, struggles, and personal prayer requests.
God is the best source of guidance in becoming more like Him. Invite God into your hidden places to search your heart. Allow Him to influence your motivations and attitudes toward prayer and fasting. There may be moments where God nudges you to bring a repentant heart to purify your motives. This is also an internal process. Not everything that God reveals to you in private should be immediately announced. Some good things that God impressed upon your heart require time to develop. If you take care of the shadows in your life, God will take care of the spotlight.
Heart attitudes are important beyond the context of prayer and fasting. Aim to form prayer habits that will sustain well beyond this season. Keep a humble heart that is dependent upon God. Let Him influence your motives by inviting Him into your secret place.
Is there anything you have been hesitant about bringing to God, because you think it’s too big or too small or you think you can just gut it out and handle it? It’s time to humble yourself and release it all to Him. If you are still struggling, ask Him to help you. The freedom you will experience will be transformational.
Day 2, May 4
Fasting teaches us that God’s Word nourishes us:
Matthew 4:1-4 records the only example of Jesus fasting, just prior to His being tempted in the wilderness. He faced temptation with these words, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 8:3-5 which talks about the 40 years Israel spent in the wilderness, depending daily on manna to sustain them. He says that God humbled them and let them be hungry in order to teach them to depend on God’s Word to sustain them. By His example of fasting, Jesus reminds us that food alone can’t sustain us. We need to be nourished by God’s Word.
Are you being nourished each day by God’s Word?
Fasting teaches us that doing God’s will sustains us: John 4:31-35 records Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well. When the disciples return, they encourage Jesus to eat. He responds by saying, “I have food to eat that you know not of.” Then He adds, “My food is to do the will of the Father.” Again, Jesus reminds us that food alone is not enough. We are sustained by doing God’s will.
Lean in and really listen over these next few weeks. Be sustained by being in the center of God’s will and respond to His promptings and guidance.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)
Are you ready to live your Ephesians 2:10 calling?
Fasting teaches us that Jesus Himself sustains us: In John 6:48-50 Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.” Jesus is the source of eternal life. Fasting is feasting on Jesus.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6 NIV)
Day 1, May 3
Receiving God’s best blessing from a fast requires solid commitment. Arranging special time each day with God is absolutely crucial in attaining intimate communion with the Father. You must devote yourself to seeking God’s face, even (and especially) during those times in which you feel weak, vulnerable, or irritable.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)
Satan’s very name means “one who separates”. His chief purpose is to separate us from God however he can. He wants us to chase after other things- even good things- so we miss God’s best. He wants to keep us busy. He wants to fill our head full of lies so that we can’t hear God’s truth.
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11 NIV)
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)
As you enter this time of heightened spiritual devotion, be aware that Satan will do everything he can to pull you away from your prayer and Bible reading time. When you feel the enemy trying to discourage you, immediately go to God in prayer and ask him to strengthen your resolve in the face of difficulties and temptations.
The enemy makes you a target because he knows that fasting is the most powerful of all Christian disciplines and that God may have something very special to show you as you wait upon him and seek his face.
Satan uses the same old bag of tricks, but we have God- who is infinitely creative- on our side. We can turn to Him as our support, wisdom, and way out under temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). God gives us the strength to stand and the armor to protect ourselves from our enemy. Satan comes to steal our joy, to kill our spirit, and to destroy our hope. He masquerades as the angel of light, deceiving us with his false beauty
(2 Corinthians 11:14). We must be aware of how he works so we can guard our minds, hearts, and steps as we set out on our amazing journey. This is one trip Satan does not want you to take, and he will pull out every trick in his bag to try to stop you. Satan does not want you to grow in your faith and will do anything from making you hungry and grumpy to bringing up trouble in your family or at work to stop you. Make prayer your shield against such attacks.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. (James 4:7-8a NIV)
True spiritual fasting focuses on God. Center your total being on Him, your attitudes, actions, motives, desires, and words. This can only take place if God and His Holy Spirit are at the center of your attention. Confess your sins as the Holy Spirit brings them to your attention and continue to focus on God and God alone so that your prayers may be powerful and effective.