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Dehydration: Running Dry

Continuation - Fasting and Prayer


DEHYDRATION - RUNNING DRY

by Pastor Devon Blackwood


Dehydration: Running Dry 

Part One Re-Cap:

Once you're in the race of life, a spiritual race, you cannot
stop on the way to ponder. As you maneuver through the race, you
must find something real to hold onto. Something must always be
in reserve but it first must be stored up. You cannot pull from
resources you do not have. When dehydration sets in, that's when
the enemy strikes. As water gives our natural body the nutrients
it needs to stay active and ward off infections and diseases, so
does living water nourish our spirits.


Now - Part Two: Dehydration: Running Dry


But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They
shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be
weary, They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31


Fasting, the Power in Self-Denial

     Scripture reminds us to "present [our] bodies a living
sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is [our] reasonable
service" (Romans 12:1). In doing so, we deny our flesh and our
fleshly desires. Physical deprivation due to a lack of food or
fluids (fasting) is an authentic test of self-sacrificing
behavior. Fasting is a vital aspect of Christian life, described
in Scripture and practiced by Jesus Christ himself.
     Some find that a commitment to prayer comes easily but they
rarely (or never) fast. Such people may well sense something
lacking in their spiritual lives. Or maybe they don't even
realize something is lacking. It's too easy to think of fasting
as "doing without," not understanding that fasting is a road to
gaining greater sensitivity to the Holy Ghost, deeper
relationship with the Lord, and more powerful victories in our
daily lives.
     There are a host of reasons why fasting is not commonly
practiced. For one, humans are pleasure driven. Unless there is
pleasure associated with an activity, we are less likely to
engage in it. We like to engage in certain relationships - for
example, sex, food, entertainment, and sports - for the rewards
are almost instantaneous. Why engage in an activity if we cannot
see the reward? But what we must realize is that we build towards
the future and we shouldn't be nearsighted.
     With fasting, we seldom see an immediate reward, but it is a
core foundation to Christian growth. Jesus understood the pay off
with fasting. We don't have to look far to see the power He
exhibited, while hungry and weak, in facing the devil. His hunger
did not prevent Him from derailing the devil's temptations. Jesus
shows that fasting not only prepares us for spiritual warfare,
but it also keeps us rooted and grounded when we face enticing
situations. Fasting is the barricade around us that wards off
intruders who seek to devour our souls. Fasting gives us stamina
in times of weakness and fragility, helps us with impulse
control, develops patience and tolerance, shapes our character
and morals, heals us from psychological pain, gives us power over
sickness, breaks every yoke, comforts and nourishes the soul, and
reveals to us the secret things of God. Fasting allows us to be
in the continuous presence of the Lord and sharpens our ears to
His Word.

     Too many people go only halfway in the battle. They pray,
but they do not fast. Would you go to the carwash with a really
dirty vehicle and submit to the wash but refuse a free polish?
You'd leave the car wash with a clean, but unprotected, car.
Similarly, prayer without fasting on a routine basis is only
effective to a point. We must apply the full gamut of what God
has given to us. Observers may be astonished at victories in some
Christians' lives, while their own lives seem filled with failure
after failure. There is a purpose to failure. God allows failure
in our lives to humble us and remind us of our need for Him, and
the necessity of using all that He has provided for us.

     So when do you fast? You might fast because you want to
bring a gift of yourself to the Lord, or you might fast because
the Holy Spirit puts it in your heart to stop eating for a
specific season, and for a specific purpose. Some (but not all)
of the purposes for fasting are outlined below.


The fast for Spirit power. 

     Devilish or worldly strongholds collapse when the power of
fasting is revealed. We see many examples in Scripture, like this
one from the Gospel of Mark.
     Then one of the crowd answered and said. Teacher, I brought
You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it
throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and
becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should
cast it out, but the, could  not." 
     When Jesus saw that the people came running together. He
rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: "Deaf and dumb spirit,
I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!" Then the
spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And
he became as one dead, so that many said, "He is dead." But Jesus
took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He
had come into the house. His disciples asked him privately, "Why
could we not cast it out?" So He said to them, 'This kind can
come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.'"
Mark 9:17-18, 25-29



The fast to overcome temptation. 

     In Matthew 4, Jesus comes forth with power from the
wilderness having fasted forty days and forty nights. When the
tempter entices Him, Jesus passes the test.


The fast for healing and forgiveness. 

     When people who have turned their thoughts and hearts from
God seek restoration, they experience healing and forgiveness
through fasting. In the book of Jonah, the citizens of Nineveh
fasted and prayed to seek deliverance from their sinful
condition. In the same sense, when we are betrayed or violated by
others, we find healing and forgiveness when we get down in
prayer and in fasting.


The fast to conquer wickedness. 

     When wicked people plan evil against us; the Lord lifts up a
righteous standard to counteract every trap, but we must
understand that fasting conquers every ounce of wickedness.
Fasting puts the enemy to flight. In Isaiah 58 we read:

Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of
wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go
free, And that you break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6


The fast for unity. 

     When there is intense disharmony among God's people and the
vision for His kingdom is falling apart, coming together
collectively to fast, revitalize, strengthen, and refresh is a
positive starting ground for things to happen.


The fast for direction and guidance (especially in ministry). 

     In Paul's missionary journey, he took specific time to seek
Almighty God's leading. He understood the dangers that lurked all
around him: shipwreck, doctrinal infightings, imprisonment,
beatings, robbery, etc. He was careful to rely on the Holy
Spirit's counsel, which is evident in Acts 13:

As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said,
"Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I
have called them." Acts 13:2


The fast for mourning and sorrow. 


     Many cultures use fasting as an expression of loss, sorrow,
grief or even as a political state ment. Scripture clearly
depicts fasts used to cope with agonizing situations, like when
King David learned of the death of Saul and Jonathan. He weeps
for them and proclaims a fast.

And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and
for Jonathan his son, for the people of the Lord and for the
house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.
II Samuel 1:12

     When we learn to pray and fast, applying the principles
Jesus taught, we begin to notice differences. By developing
habits of deep, commit ted, and self-sacrificial communication
with God, we develop sensitivity to God's presence and spiritual
sight that helps us discern dark things that might put us at
risk. Things may look bleak in the morning, but by evening we
know God has been in the midst of our storms all along.


Deepening Your Connection By Prayer And Fasting

     Develop a routine prayer pattern so that it becomes a part
of your daily schedule, not something that gets in the way. Set
specific times to pray and meditate and stick to your schedule as
much as possible.
     Find one or two dedicated prayer partner(s) to help you
develop prayer confidence and consistency. Pray for each other's
needs.
     Make plans to fast regularly, but let the Spirit lead you.
When you do fast, commit to the period laid on your heart.

     Take the time to pray for others and not just your own
needs.
     Listen to God's voice. Remember He responds too, but you
must first have an open ear and heart to hear. Be ready to hear
His answer whether or not it is what you want to hear.

     Break the habit of only coming to God when you are in dire
need; whether you are in a time of achievement or failure, your
prayer life should remain constant.

Words from the Fountain

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of
witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so
easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that
is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of
our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the
cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of
the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
......

Devon Blackwood is and administrator, education director, and
teacher at the Shiloh Church of God Seventh Day in Baltimore,
Maryland.
......

From "Acts" magazine - July/August 2010 - a publication of the
General Council of Churches of God (Seventh Day), Meridian, ID.
USA.



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