Giving God the First- Shades of Grace | Natalie Nichols

Giving God the First

Giving God the First

Several years ago I began giving God the first twenty-one days of the year through prayer and fasting. Scripture exhorts us in Matthew 6:33 to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…and then everything else will be given to us.

Perhaps you have goals, desires, dreams and resolutions for the New Year.  Maybe you have already begun submitting your requests to God for the things you’d like to see Him do in 2010. Maybe He is asking you to believe Him for certain results in 2010. Beloved, prayerfully consider giving God the first of your year in prayer and fasting and watch Him give unto you all year long.

The First

Up until a few years ago, I – like so many other Christians – overlooked the significance of fasting.  I believed in giving God the first of my day, the first of my week and the first of my income, but I was  missing a vital element: the first of my year.

Prior to that time, I fasted occasionally…when I felt a need to draw close to God, but fasting wasn’t a regular part of my lifestyle, like prayer and giving. Since I’ve made fasting a regular part of the beginning of each year and each month, I’ve seen God’s hand of blessing in unprecedented ways.

Now that I am leading Passionate Pursuit and the Concert of Prayer, I am opening my fast and inviting others to join me in beginning 2010 with a corporate twenty-one-day fast. There is no better way to welcome the New Year and the blessings of God!

The Secret

Fasting is a secret that many Christians are missing. God first began convicting me about my lack of regular fasting through Jentezen Franklin.  In his book Fasting, Jentezen writes,

When I feel myself growing dry spiritually, when I don’t sense that cutting-edge anointing, or when I need a fresh encounter with God, fasting is the secret key that unlocks heaven’s door and slams shut the gates of hell.  The discipline of fasting releases the anointing, the favor, and the blessing of God in the life of a Christian.[i]

I wholeheartedly agree! Fasting eliminates preoccupations in my daily life and helps me focus on God. Because of that – because of the increased intimacy with Christ – fasting has become something I long to do…something I thoroughly enjoy. I no longer view fasting as something I have to do, but something I get to do – something that is a privilege.  And it is! In the seasons that my health won’t allow a full fast, I long and pray to be able to return to it. There is nothing like fasting and the intimacy with Christ it affords!

Many people fear the hunger pains that occur during the first few days of a fast.  With the mere mention of the word “fast” stomachs begin to grumble and growl. But this feared deterrent is a actually a welcomed friend. Thoughts of food are the very things that spur me on to continual prayer.  They turn my day into constant communion with God. Each time I feel myself longing for food, I tell the Lord, “I want you more!  I am hungrier for you!!” I believe you would agree that there are things we desire more than food:

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6).

As we prepare to enter the New Year, I urge you to prayerfully consider giving God twenty-one days of January in prayer and fasting. Respond obediently to what the Holy Spirit tells you.  If He leads you to fast, reply with a simple, “Yes sir.” Don’t worry about how you are to fast…or whether you can make it twenty-one days.  All He wants is your obedient reply.  He will give you His ability to follow through.

“For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants” (Philippians 2:13 TLB).

The Holy Spirit hasn’t yet let me know how many days I am to fast in full, and how many days will be a Daniel fast. The Holy Spirit will be faithful to call you to the fast He has ordained for you – a full fast, a Daniel fast, a partial fast…or a mixture of all three. He will give you specific direction when the time comes.  All He wants now is your simple commitment to obey–made only in faith. God will honor your obedience and trust in Him. He will give you wisdom, direction, strength and grace for the fast.

The Lifestyle

After Jesus called his disciples, He gave them their first public teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. In it He explained to them the kingdom of God—its laws and life.  Here, in Matthew chapter six, He provided the pattern by which each of us is to live as a child of God. This pattern mentions three specific responsibilities: giving, praying and fasting. In this passage Jesus said, “When you give…”, “When you pray” and “When you fast.” He made it obvious that fasting is to be a regular part of the Christian life. He did not say “if you fast” but “when you fast.” We are to give as much focus and priority to fasting as we do to giving and praying.

Addressing the Pharisees as to why His disciples didn’t fast, Jesus answered, “Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast” (Luke 5:34-35).

In those days they will fast. Jesus doesn’t expect us, His modern day disciples, to do something He didn’t do. If the Word of God—the One who spoke this world into being—found fasting necessary in God’s economy, then who are we to try to live by any other standard? Who are we to think that we can attempt to live without it?

In Fasting, Jentezen Franklin asks a poignant question:

If Jesus could have accomplished all He came to do without fasting, why would He fast? The Son of God fasted because He knew there were supernatural things that could only be released that way. How much more should fasting be a common practice in our lives.”[ii]

Jesus said in John 13,

“You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am…I’ve laid down a pattern for you.  What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious.  A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer.  If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it – and live a blessed life.”

If we want to live a blessed life, an anointed life, we will give, we will pray…and we will fast.

The Invitation

I would like to personally invite you to join with Passionate Pursuit, the Concert of Prayer and me on a twenty-one day fast beginning January 14th. (We are beginning on Thursday the 14th because this is the day of the Concert of Prayer and Passionate Pursuit.) Page of the calendar

Over the next two weeks, I will be blogging about fasting – providing information as to the different kinds of fasts, as well as Biblical teaching and encouragement. No matter where you live, you can join us–even if you can’t travel to join us in person.  (When I first fasted twenty-one days, it was with Free Chapel in Georgia.  I never traveled there, and never met with the group in person, but God used their corporate fast to incorporate fasting into my lifestyle.) Beginning and maintaining a fast is much easier when we join with others.

Mark January 14th, 2010 on your calendar and prepare to be blessed!

What about you? Do you believe fasting should be part of our lifestyle as Christians?

[i] Jentezen Franklin, Fasting (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2008), 4

[ii] Ibid., 14


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