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Fasting Day 19: Returning in Power, Part 2

When we fast and pray, God promises to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke.

“ 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

When we enter God’s chosen fast, He promises to:

1. Let the oppressed go free (Isaiah 58:6)

God sets free those who are oppressed physically or spiritually – who are discouraged and wounded. The word picture for this phrase is those who are “cracking up.” Are you cracking up? Perhaps because you are:

  • overloaded
  • stressed over money
  • burdened because your relationship with your family is cracking up
  • broken because your marriage is cracking up

God sets the oppressed — those who are cracking up — free!

This phrase also refers to personal and national revival – to those who are oppressed by the devil. It refers to those who are oppressed because they belong to the kingdom of darkness and not kingdom of light. Or it holds meaning for us when we are oppressed by dryness and spiritual drought in our life.

Has your communion with Christ been broken? Has your prayer life grown stale? Have you felt His presence closely in years past, but now you cannot hear His voice? You cannot sense His presence?

Do you want new anointing — a fresh sense of the Holy Spirit in your life?

(See also: Fasting Day 5: New Anointing, Fasting Day 5: Expecting Anointing, Part 1 and Fasting Day 6: Expecting Anointing, Part 2.)

When we fast and pray, God revives us. In 1 Samuel 7, Samuel fasted for revival. He called a corporate fast in order that Israel might be delivered from the sin that allowed the Ark to be captured in first place.

We too can fast for personal or national revival — for people enslaved by sin to be free! We can fast and pray to be used of God to bring people out of kingdom of darkness and into God’s light

We can fast for personal revival. When God’s presence is upon your life in a strong, fresh way, there is revival. But when we have lost that sense of His presence, we ache for its return. We may try to fill the void with television or food or the internet, but it doesn’t take long to realize nothing is a substitute for the Spirit of Christ!

Samuel

In 1 Samuel 7, Israel encountered the same scenario. Samuel called a national fast because Israel mourned the loss of the ark, God’s presence (see 1 Samuel 7:1-11). They fasted in order that God’s presence might return.

Years before Samuel declared the fast, before he grew up and became a prophet and judge of Israel, the Israelites sinned against God by taking the Ark of the Covenant into battle as a good luck charm. For this offense, God allowed the Israelites to be defeated and the Ark to be taken by the Philistines.

The Ark of the Covenant symbolized God’s presence – the place where He dwelled.  To lose the Ark meant losing God’s presence among them. This was so grievous to the Israelites that when the wife of Phinehas (one of the priests guilty for the spiritual decay) gave birth to her child, she named him Ichabod, saying, “’The glory has departed from Israel!’ because the Ark of God had been captured. “Ichabod” means “where is the glory?”

A lot of times we get involved in Christian programs and go to church every Sunday as a good luck charm. We are essentially saying, “I’m doing my little bit – like putting my ten cents in the offering plate. I’m putting my little Sunday morning in, and therefore, I can turn my back and do what I want to the rest of the week. But I’ve put my little measure of good luck in because I went to church Sunday morning and God is supposed to bless me.”

This causes us to reach a place where God’s presence is taken and His glory departs. We stay saved and redeemed, but we don’t feel God’s presence intimately. That feeling of, “Lord, I’m overcome because of you! I can feel your breath I feel you so close!!” That kind of intimacy and sense of God’s presence is gone.

Many of us are living “Ichabod” – God’s presence is gone. We come to church week after week, but we have no intimate, close sense of God’s presence. There is no revival in our soul where we are broken in soul but alive spiritually.

Israel “lamented after the Lord” (v. 2). They mourned over having lost God’s presence.

Samuel united Israel and called for a day of fasting and repentance. Israel rid themselves of their foreign gods – the Baals and Asthoreths (v. 3-4).

No doubt, if you’re fasting, you have done the same thing. You have mourned over complacency in your life and chosen to seek God diligently. You have consciously decided to rid yourself of the worship of anything else but God.

The rites connected with worship of Ashtoreths usually involved sacred prostitution, as Ashtoreths was the name of the Canaanite goddess of fertility, sexuality and war. Sexual rituals in the Canaanite temples were designed to prompt the gods to make the earth fertile. In our attempt to make our own lives, our businesses, our families, our ministries “fertile,” we essentially prostitute our worship to false gods. We seek an edge on the day by vacating our morning prayer and devotion. We perform Christian acts out of impure motives, pride and a desire to be exalted, to impress others. We worship money, success, prestige, reputation, religion, possessions, entertainment and pleasure … all in an attempt to make our lives falsely fertile.

Through fasting and prayer, you have chosen to dethrone King Stomach and cease catering to and worshiping temporal appetites and gods. You have chosen, just as the Israelites did, to acknowledge your sin, repent and draw near to God. In return, God will draw near to you!

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

 

2. Break Every Yoke (Isaiah 58:6)

Do you have a habit of being negative – a habit of seeing the glass half empty? Are you plagued by frequent despair and despondency? Are you so focused on yourself and your problems that you can’t see what God is doing in and around you?

Don’t feel condemned; you are joined by one of the greatest prophets in the old testament – Elijah. Just as God used fasting to break Elijah’s negative emotional habits, God can break your negative emotional tendencies through fasting as well. (See Fasting Day 17: Breaking Negative Emotional Habits.)

Elijah was the prophet who stood boldly alone on Mount Carmel and challenged 450 prophets of Baal. Many Israelites had begun to worship the false god Baal, but Elijah challenged them: “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, then follow him” (I Kings 18:21).

Elijah defied the prophets of Baal and challenged them to have their god light the fire on the sacrificial altar. When they could not, Elijah had his altar soaked with water, then challenged God:

“Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word” (v. 36).

God honored Elijah’s bold faith and fire fell from heaven, igniting the altar of the Lord. It was such a powerful display of power that the people rose up and killed the false prophets.

Queen Jezebel had sponsored Baal worship in Israel through her husband, King Ahab.  This so enraged her that she swore to kill Elijah. Elijah was afraid and ran for his life (19:3).He fled to the wilderness and fell into extreme despondency. Elijah’s problem wasn’t Jezebel; it was his emotional state. He was an extrovert who was in great command in public, but when alone lapsed into terrible depression and despondency. Elijah’s problem was himself.

Elijah left his servant in Judah and went a day’s journey into the desert. He deliberately chose to go where there was no food. There Elijah asked God to take his life. Queen Jezebel’s threat had exposed Elijah’s lack of control over his own life.

Many Believers today have the same response to life’s circumstances. Our lack of control over our future causes us to feel abandoned, to withdraw and become worried and depressed. We are victims of negative emotional habits.

A habit is a behavior pattern acquired through frequent repetition. The word “habit” comes from a root meaning “clothing that is usually worn”–like a nun’s habit. Habits may be displayed through simple outward acts and traits, or through multifaceted emotional responses and attitudes toward life.

God promises that fasting can break self-destructive habits. “Is not this the fast that I have chosen:…that you break every yoke?” (Is. 58:6). Fasting, like Elijah did, invites God into the problem of our negative emotional habits. In Christ’s strength, victory is possible.

God used Elijah mightily. He stood alone for God when others compromised and worshiped Baal. Elijah boasted, “I alone am left” (v. 10). But Elijah was wrong. God told him that there were 7,000 in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Elijah’s problem was that he was so self-centered. He was so focused on himself that he couldn’t see what God was doing around him. He couldn’t see big picture

Often, we enter a season of fasting focused on the negative, trapping ourselves in the problem. We can be so chained and focused on a habit of thought or emotional response that we can’t see what God wants to do for us and what done for others. Our habit has blinded us to the power of God

When we focus on our problems, we exercise faith in our problems. We are admitting that our problems are bigger than we are and even bigger than God.

Elijah’s depression and pessimistic tendency trapped him in the problem as well. He continually reminded God, “I have been zealous for you…I am the only one left.” This statement was a manipulative way of bragging to God that he was faithful.

All the while Elijah was boasting in his faithfulness, he should have been seeking to view the problem from God’s perspective.

God came to Elijah with good news—with positive facts. “I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him” (v. 18).

As long as we focus on our problems, we exercise faith in our problems.

Are you focusing on the size of your problem or the size and greatness of your God?

After Elijah prayed to die, he lay down and fell asleep. Then an angel touched him and told him to get up and eat.  Bread and water were by his head. “He ate and drank and then lay down again” (v. 6). The angel came back again, touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you” (v. 7). Elijah got up and ate and drank. “Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God” (v. 8).

Elijah fasted for forty days as He sought God’s presence and a word from Him.

Mt Sinai in Horeb is where God appeared in fire to Moses, and where He gave Moses the Ten Commandments. Elijah sought a fresh touch from God, so he returned to the place where God revealed Himself to Moses. It was there that “the word to the LORD came to [Elijah]” (v. 9). God had a word for him, and a victory over his negative emotional habits.

After Elijah’s 40-day fast, God broke the yoke of his negative emotional habits.

Message Audio

Audio Segment from the message Returning in Power:

 

Questions:

  • Do you want new anointing for the coming year?
  • Are you tired of being controlled by negative emotional habits?
  • Have you claimed these promises for the coming year?

FROM THIS SERIES:

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