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Fasting Day 15: Lives of Influence

Lives of Influence

Do you want to be a faithful witness? Do you want the light of Christ within you to affect those around you? Do you want to be a greater influence for Christ on your job, in your family, your church, your community?

Christians are commanded to be a witness and testimony to others: “You are the light of the world (Matt. 5:14).  Christians have two obligations: to live godly lives and to extend our influence to others for the glory of God.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”(Matt. 5:16).

The John the Baptist Fast is for those who want to extend their light and be a good influence on those around them.  It is also an excellent tool when you want to extend your sphere of influence.

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen…[that] your righteousness shall go before you” (Isa. 58:6,8).

When our righteousness goes before us, our testimonies and influence for Christ are enhanced before others.

As it is with the “Ezra Fast,” the John the Baptist fast is not about specific foods to eat while fasting, but instead about the scriptural principles that can be claimed while fasting. When fasting, it is vital to know what scriptural precedents apply to our causes for fasting. This helps us know how to pray and believe God to respond to our situation.

In Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough, Elmer Towns shares valuable insight into extending our light and being a good influence on those around us. The following is based upon his chapter “The John the Baptist Fast.” [1]

The Dedicated Witness

John the Baptist fasted with his disciples all the time (Matthew 9:14). John the Baptist was dedicated as a Nazirite from birth (Luke 1:15). Although his father, Zacharias, was told that his son would follow the Nazirite vow, John the Baptist still had to choose this for himself once he grew up.

A Nazirite could not cut his hair or drink wine or strong drink (Nu. 6:2-8; Lu. 1:15). John’s vow made him different from the average person around him. When people saw his long hair, they immediately identified him as a Nazirite – a dedicated or consecrated man. (The Nazirite vow was named after the Hebrew word meaning “vowed” or “dedicated.”) He was perceived to be a man of great influence before both God and man.

The Greatest Influence

Jesus spoke of John the Baptist as one with the greatest influence:

“Among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” (Matt.11:11).

Another notable fact about John the Baptist is that there was no sin recorded about him. He continually did the will of God. He witnessed to his generation that Jesus was the Christ.

“There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe” (John 1:6-7).

You and I can also live lives of influence and become great witnesses by following John the Baptist’s example of fasting “often” (Matt. 9:14) and “drinking neither wine nor strong drink” (Luke 1:15).

John the Baptist was Spirit filled — “He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). He had an outer testimony of long hair, but he also had an inner testimony that affected people.

The Separated Life

It is important to note that there is power in a separated life. In the 21st century, people want to imitate and be like everyone else — even Believers. We modern day disciples want to drive what others are driving, wear what they are wearing, listen to what’s cool and hip and watch the movies and television that are driving our culture.  We don’t want to do anything that would get us labeled a “fanatic” for Christ.

Yet, the world is awash in a lifestyle of entertainment, comfort, ease, leisure, lust, sin and rebellion against God. Christians must dare to be different and influential for God. Just as John established a counterculture, so should we. Our lives should look different and be different, impacting the lives of those around us for Christ.

What are the ways in which you want to influence others? What people do you want to influence? What events and places do you want to influence? Target these areas during your fast.  Is your purpose to be a testimony for Christ, like John the Baptist (John 1:6-7)?  Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. When we fast, pray and separate ourselves unto God, He will give us lives of great influence and witness.

As you fast, submit yourself completely to Christ. We must bring our entire life into conformity with Jesus Christ if we are to be an influence for God. This begins with sincere repentance and turning from sin. Israel fasted but without success because they were not grieved and repentant over the sin in their lives. “‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?” (Is. 58:3). We must do more than merely abstain from food. We must respond wholeheartedly to God with a commitment to testify for Christ with our entire being.

The Cause and Effect

The practice of fasting began with the loss of appetite and inability to eat during times of great stress. Hannah was so distressed about her barrenness that “she wept and did not eat” (I Sam. 1:7). Fasting began as a natural expression of grief. David fasted to demonstrate his grief over Abner’s death (2 Sam 3:35). Many places in scripture fasting is described as “afflicting” one’s soul or body (Is. 58:3,5 KJV). Over time, the cause and effect were intentionally reversed. Fasting came to be practiced as an external means of demonstrating and encouraging an internal feeling of grief for sin and for cultivating earnest prayer.

The original cause (deep grief and stress) drove people to the effect (not eating). Later, when people desperately needed answers from God, they turned to the effect (not eating) so they could afflict their souls to the point they would pray to God with all their hearts (cause).

If we want our lives to be influential for Christ, we must allow fasting and prayer to bring about grief over personal sin. We must allow the effect (abstaining from food) to bring about the cause (grief, remorse and sincere prayer).

The Filling

John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit from birth. Those who enter the John the Baptist Fast aren’t automatically filled with the Spirit simply because of refraining from food. When we put our faith in Jesus Christ and receive Him as Savior and Lord of our lives, His Spirit comes to live inside of us (2 Cor. 1:22; Ro. 5:5; Ga. 4:6). However, we can still live in rebellion to His control in various areas of our lives. Pockets of sin and resistance keep us from being controlled by the Holy Spirit. To be “filled with the Spirit” means that the Holy Spirit controls us. For this, we must follow God’s prescription, “Do not be drunk with wine…but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).

To be filled with the Spirit we must:

  • Empty sin from our lives
  • Yield ourselves to God
  • Ask the Spirit to enter our lives and control us
  • Have faith that He will come
  • Obey God’s word
  • Walk continually by the Spirit
  • Let the Spirit continually empower us

I want to exit this fast different than I entered it, don’t you? Jesus came back to Galilee from His 40 days of fasting “in the power of the Spirit.” There was a difference even in the Son of God after he fasted and prayed. He entered His fast “full of the Holy Spirit” but returned from it in the Spirit’s power.

For this to occur, we must yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him highlight anything in our lives that stands in resistance to His control.

Last night at the Pursuit 21 prayer meeting, two ladies were telling us of a fasting prayer meeting they’d had earlier in the day — just the two of them. They couldn’t wait to get together and share how the Holy Spirit had been showing them sin in their own lives and bringing them to a place of conviction. One of the ladies was telling me how the Holy Spirit had brought up something from years before, something of which she’d never asked forgiveness. Hearing their sincerity and purity before God was a blessing — and convicting to me too. It’s easy to keep our fasting “hit list” on us and continually cry out to God for needs and people on our heart. Yet we tend to put repentance on the back burner during a fast. If we truly want lives of influence, this must burn in the forefront of our prayers during the fast.

The Result

If you want to be a greater influence for Christ in the lives of those around you, consider the John the Baptist fast. If you want your sphere of influence to expand, so that you can witness to and reach more people, consider the John the Baptist fast.

If you are currently fasting, you might take your list of reasons for fasting and beside the ones to which this scriptural precedent applies, you might write “John the Baptist fast.” I have done this with my list of reasons for fasting. I want to be a greater influence and I want Shades of Grace to as well.

In fact, I have done this with the Ezra fast, the Samuel fast, and a few other Biblical fasts I will be sharing about in the coming days. Doing this has transformed my fast. I know that what God did for Ezra, Samuel and John the Baptist, He will do for me. This builds my faith and expectancy. There isn’t an item on my list of fasting causes that doesn’t correlate to a Scriptural precedent — to someone else’s cause for fasting in Scripture.  Therefore, there isn’t one item on my fasting causes that doesn’t correlate to an action, a response, of God. God IS the same yesterday, today and forever. What He did for them, He will do for me.

I challenge you to take your list of reasons for fasting and find the ones that pertain to influence — even if you desire success in your job, the broader your influence the greater impact you can make for Christ. Beside these items write “John the Baptist Fast.” Find the items that pertain to national and personal revival and write “Samuel Fast.”  Beside the ones that pertain to change, decisions, wisdom, financial issues, write “Ezra Fast.” (And be sure to take a look at these fasts in Scripture too so that you know how the precedent applies to your situation. Merely writing the words isn’t magic. It’s knowing the Truth from the Word that establishes a basis for your own fast and brings faith, prayer, confidence, expectation…and results.)

Doing this is an act of faith — a statement saying, “I am believing God to bring about the same result for me that He did for John the Baptist, for Samuel and the Israelites, for Ezra, etc.” You will be amazed at how it will boost your expectancy and faith. Fasting and prayer combined with faith moves God from Heaven to earth — so this little action of applying scriptural precedent to your reasons for fasting is very significant.

You might also keep these topical fasts in mind for this year. After all, we are making fasting a part of our lifestyle, right? We want to continue fasting throughout the year, just as we will tithe and pray throughout the year as well.  This year, as you encounter situations to which these scriptural fasts apply, you can enter into a fast — be it for a day, a week or whatever duration — believing God for a similar result in your life.

Beloved, if you are fasting, I have no doubt you are becoming more influential for Christ. I have received even more reports today of people who are curious, intrigued and drawn to Christ because of Pursuit 21 and those who are fasting. As it was for John the Baptist, when people look and see that you are living radically for Christ, they see a dedicated, consecrated Believer who is influencing their generation for Christ. May your influence, like John the Baptist’s, have a great evanglistic impact upon your generation:

“He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:16,17).

Question: How does John the Baptist’s influence that came from a consecrated lifestyle of fasting encourage you today?

______________________

[1] Elmer Towns, Fasting for a Spiritual Breakthrough (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1996), 143-155


 

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5 Responses to “Fasting Day 15: Lives of Influence”

  1. Rebekah says:

    what is the john the baptist fast? I am not able to find what it actually involves. types of food to give up, etc, please, help me.

    • Bekah says:

      Do you still need help ?

    • HI Rebekah. the John the Baptist fast is not about specific foods to eat while fasting, but instead about the scriptural principles that can be claimed while fasting.

      I'm asked this question a lot, so I did my best to provide the answer within the article itself. Other articles on this site based on Elmer Towns' book are similarly titled — "The Ezra fast" … "The St. Paul Fast" … "The Disciples' Fast". These 'fasts' are not in reference to specific foods to eat while fasting, such as in the “Daniel fast." Instead they are about scriptural principles that can be claimed while fasting.

      Having the word "fast" in the title makes it confusing. It may help to see other articles based on content from Elmer Towns' book. The context of these articles may help explain why the John the Baptist fast is about scriptural precedent, not food.

      For example:
      THE EZRA FAST is about an occasion of fasting in scripture — not about what foods to abstain from when fasting. The Ezra fast is about solutions to problems. It's about fasting not being an escape from the problem, but an attempt to enlist the help of the Holy Spirit in solving the problem: https://www.shadesofgrace.org/2010/01/27/the-ezra-….

      The ST. PAUL FAST is about targeting decisions when you fast — fasting for insight and wisdom: https://www.shadesofgrace.org/2010/01/30/targeting….

      THE DISCIPLES' FAST is about breaking bondage: https://www.shadesofgrace.org/2010/02/02/fasting-d….

      The ELIJAH FAST is about breaking negative emotional habits: https://www.shadesofgrace.org/2010/01/31/fasting-d….

      The SAMUEL FAST is about repentance and revival: https://www.shadesofgrace.org/2010/01/21/fasting-d….

      And the JOHN THE BAPTIST FAST is about fasting for greater influence for Christ in the lives of those around you,

      These 'fasts' (or these articles with the word "fast" in the title) are about what you can pray for as you fast — about what you can claim and believe God to do in response to your prayer and fasting. They're not about specific foods to abstain from.

      Whereas the Daniel Fast is different. We use the term "Daniel Fast" to refer to a type of partial fast — about foods to abstain from. The title can also refer to Daniel's reasons for fasting (like the fasts above, which are about reasons to fast, not foods to abstain from). But most commonly we use "Daniel Fast" to refer to foods to abstain from — eating only fruits and vegetables, only water to drink, abstaining from sweets and breads.

      The John the Baptist Fast, however, is about reasons to fast — about scriptural principles and precedent to your fast. Not about specific foods.

      I realize it can be confusing. I hope having this context helps.

  2. Rebekah A. says:

    I absolutely love this , MAY THE LORD JESUS CHRIST BLESS WHOEVER WROTE THIS. Thank you

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