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Causing the Fire to Fall

By nature, every one of us is inclined to take the path of least resistance. But we Americans are especially notorious for avoiding pain at all cost.
When it comes right down to it, most of us do not like hard work. Even in those areas that we recognize are in our best interest-like studying, exercise and diets-we avoid developing disciplines to help us. This is especially true when it comes to the spiritual discipline of fasting and prayer.

Our Need to Fast
The writings of Scripture, the Church Fathers and many Christian leaders
of today offer several biblical insights into the spiritual need for fasting:

• It is a biblical way to truly humble oneself in the sight of God (Psalm35:13; Ezra 8:21).

• It brings revelation by the Holy Spirit of a person's true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance and change.

• It is a crucial means for personal revival because it brings the inner workings of the Holy Spirit into play in a most unusual, powerful way.

• It helps us better understand the Word of God by making it more meaningful, vital and practical.

• It transforms prayer into a richer and more personal experience.

• It can result in dynamic personal revival-being filled with the Spirit and regaining a strong sense of spiritual determination.

• It can restore the loss of one's first love for our Lord.

Throughout the Old and New Testament eras and during the last 2,000 years, fasting was a primary means of humbling ourselves before God.

How Does Fasting Help?
Fasting is a primary means of restoration. By humbling our souls, fasting releases the Holy Spirit to do His special work of revival in us. This changes our relationship with God forever, taking us into a deeper life in Christ and giving us a greater awareness of God's reality and presence in our lives. Fasting reduces the power of self so that the Holy Spirit can do a more intense work within us. Fasting also helps in other ways. It:

• Brings a yieldedness, even a holy brokenness, resulting in inner calm and self-control

• Renews spiritual vision

• Inspires determination to follow God's revealed plan for your life

Fasting Calls for Sacrifice
The Church of England Homily of 1502 indicates the first purpose of fasting is “to chastise the flesh, that it be not too wanton, but tamed and brought in subjection to the spirit.”

Wesleyan preacher William Bramwell wrote in 1809 that the reason many do not live in the power of their salvation is because “there is too much sleep, too much meat and drink, too little fasting and self-denial, too much [taking part in] the world …and too little self-examination and prayer.”

Fasting Wars Against the Flesh
But for all its spiritual benefits, fasting is not always the easiest godly discipline to practice. For those unaccustomed to it, going without food can be a struggle-a tug of war between the spirit of a person and his flesh.

The flesh does not let go easily. Many have acknowledged a battle in their soul when setting out to fast, especially during the first few days without food.

The mental, emotional battle that may break out when we fast can sometimes be unsettling. Veteran fasters say this is a sure sign of the need to abstain from food and draw close to God. It means the natural man, with his appetites and will, is trying to gain ascendancy over the spiritual man and the inner workings of the Holy Spirit.

Fasting Brings Power
The Early Church recognized fasting as a means of obtaining spiritual power. God’s Word declares fasting and prayer as a powerful means for causing the fire of God to fall again in a person's life.

This fire produces the fruits of the Spirit-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control-but especially the fruits of righteousness and spiritual power over the lusts of the flesh and the lies of the enemy.

As fasting and prayer brings surrender of body, soul and spirit to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, it also generates a heightened sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit; it creates a fresh, clean joy and a restored determination to serve God. In short, it brings personal revival. Our spiritual power does not lie in money, genius, anointed plans or dedicated work. Rather, power for spiritual conquest comes from the Holy Spirit as people seek God's face in consecrated, diligent prayer and fasting.

In 1954 Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile. It had never been broken in all the centuries of recorded history, but Bannister believed it could be done. He developed a mental picture of himself breaking the record, and he did it. Since 1954, several hundred other athletes have broken the four-minute mile, simply because Roger Bannister proved that it could be done.

If an individual with only human resources is able to accomplish such remarkable feats, how much more can you and I do when we place our faith in the omnipotent Creator God and draw upon His supernatural, inexhaustible resources and power through fasting and prayer?

[Excerpt from Chapter 6, The Coming Revival by Bill Bright]

Continue to “The Power of Fasting and Pray”

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