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Breaking Barriers to the Spirit’s Power: A Little Motivation, Part Three

fasting is breaking-barriers

Do you want God to do immeasurably more than all you could ask or imagine? Would you like Him to work unhindered through your prayers? Certainly! But there is a prerequisite to this. Perhaps it is a step you’re already taking….

In Parts One and Two of  A Little Motivation, we began taking a look at some of the actions you’re taking before God when you fast—and in turn, how you can expect Him to respond. We saw that when you fast you are:

  1. Seeking First God’s Kingdom and His Righteousness
  2. Drawing Near to God
  3. Requiring His Presence
  4. Humbling Yourself Before God
  5. Declaring Your Helplessness and Hope in God

We discussed how God rewards each of these acts. Not that we fast for the rewards, but when food cravings are in overdrive, sometimes it helps to be reminded!

Today we continue with a sixth action of your fasting. When you fast, you are bringing your body and soul into subjection to the Holy Spirit.

6. Bringing Your Body and Soul Into Subjection to the Holy Spirit

“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27, NKJV).

In Shaping History Through Fasting and Prayer, Derek Prince writes,

“Our bodies, with their physical organs and appetites, make wonderful servants but terrible masters. Thus, it is necessary to keep them always in subjection. I once heard this well expressed by a fellow minister who said, ‘my stomach does not tell me when to eat, but I tell my stomach when.’ Each time a Christian practices fasting for this purpose, he is serving notice on his body: ‘You are the servant, not the master.’” [1]

The Spirit of God and the carnal natural of man are in direct opposition to each other:

“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” (Galatians 5:17, NIV).

In his book, Derek Prince describes the relationship between fasting and the opposition of our natural man to the Spirit of God.

“Fasting deals with the two great barriers to the Holy Spirit that are erected by man’s carnal nature. These are the stubborn self-will of the soul and the insistent, self-gratifying appetites of the body. Rightly practiced, fasting brings both soul and body into subjection to the Holy Spirit.” [2]

The Appetites of the Body and Self-Will of the Soul Stand in Opposition to the Holy Spirit

Our human nature, or “carnal nature,” opposes the Holy Spirit. The essence of our human nature is that it does not yield to the Holy Spirit, but is in opposition to the Spirit. In the New Testament this nature is referred to as the “flesh.”  It refers to not just our physical bodies, but our entire nature that we inherited from Adam. Deep down in you and me dwells a rebel, an insurgent.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Galatians 5:16-17 NASB, emphasis added).

The apostle Paul was very clear in this passage. If we yield to the carnal nature, we stand in opposition to the Spirit of God. If we want to yield to the Holy Spirit, we must deal with our old nature, our flesh. If not, what we do will oppose the Holy Spirit. Paul reiterates this again:

“…the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot..” (Romans 8:7, AMPC).

Paul is saying that our natural mind—our fleshly, carnal mind—is hostile toward God. The carnal nature and mind cannot be influenced to do the will of God. This is impossible.

The carnal mind is our “soul”— our mind, will and emotions. It is the part of us that says “I think” (the mind), “I will” (the will), “I feel” (the emotions). Our natural man is preoccupied and controlled by these three areas.

If we want to live under the authority of the Holy Spirit, in submission to Him, then our fleshly nature must be brought into subjection. We must subject the mind, will, and emotions to the Spirit of God. Our “I will”, “I want,” and “I feel” must come under the rule of the Holy Spirit. According to the pattern of Scripture, this is done through fasting.

This is how Jesus did it; how Paul did it; and how you and I are to do it.

Paul struggled with his fleshly nature and gained authority over it through disciplining his body:

25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. [In other words, I have a purpose and I am disciplined.]

27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:25-27, NIV)

When we discipline our body through Christian fasting (i.e. we don’t just diet but we combine our abstention with prayer and time in the word), we deal with the barriers to the Holy Spirit erected by our carnal nature. These barriers are:

  1. The stubborn self-will of the soul
  2. The insistent, self-gratifying appetites of the body

Fasting brings both body and soul into subjection to the Holy Spirit.

Fasting Breaks the Barriers Opposing the Spirit’s Power

Fasting changes us, not God. We don’t fast to twist God’s arm. Through fasting and prayer, we are the ones who are changed.

Fasting is a way to prepare ourselves, like a farmer prepares the soil for new crop, plowing up the ground to get ready for a new season. Fasting is not making God do something He doesn’t want to do. It is positioning yourself and preparing your heart for what God wants to do in you.

The Holy Spirit, as God, is omnipotent. Fasting breaks the barriers in our carnal nature that stand in opposition to the Holy Spirit’s omnipotence—to the working of His mighty power in our lives. With these barriers eradicated, the Holy Spirit can work unhindered through our prayers.

And our prayers have unlimited potential:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV).

The “power” that works in and through our prayers is the Holy Spirit. By removing the barriers of our natural man, fasting makes a way for the Holy Spirit’s power to work the “immeasurably more” of God’s promises.

Did you catch that? Let me recap this wonderful truth:

  1. Fasting breaks the barriers in our human nature that stand in opposition to the Holy Spirit’s omnipotence—to the working of His mighty power in our lives.
  2. With these barriers eradicated, the Holy Spirit can work unhindered through our prayers.
  3. When the Holy Spirit can work unhindered through our prayers, His power can perform the “immeasurably more” of God’s promises in our lives.

tweet this
Do you want God’s Spirit to do immeasurably more than all you could ask or imagine? Would you like Him to work unhindered through your prayers? It begins when you practice fasting rightly and thereby, bring your body and soul into subjection to the Holy Spirit.

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”
Ephesians 3:20, MSG

Now how’s that for a little motivation?! I bet you can’t wait to engage in another day of fasting and prayer now that you’ve seen one of its many rewards!
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TweetablesMore Tweetables

  • Bringing body and soul into subjection to the Spirit, fasting deals with two barriers to the Holy Spirit erected by man’s human nature: 1) stubborn self-will of the soul 2) insistent, self-gratifying appetites of the body. Click to tweet Tweet
  • Fasting deals with the two great barriers to God’s Spirit that are erected by man’s human nature. As a result, the Holy Spirit can work unhindered through our prayers and perform the “immeasurably more” of God’s promises in our lives. Click to tweet Tweet
  • “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” ~ Ephesians 3:20  Click to tweet Tweet
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Questions:

  • During this fasting season, have you become more aware of how intensely your human nature is opposed to the Holy Spirit?
  • Has this season of subjection shown you just how much the stubborn self-will of your soul and the self-gratifying appetites of your body were given free reign over your choices?
  • Have you become convicted, and subsequently repented, of ways you allowed your human nature to push you in a direction hostile to God, even if ever so slight? Such as choosing to sleep late in the morning rather than rising for prayer? Choosing television over time in the Bible?
  • Do you want God’s Spirit to do immeasurably more than all you could ask or imagine? Would you like Him to work unhindered through your prayers? Do you want Him to perform the immeasurably more of God’s promises in your life? It begins when you practice fasting rightly and thereby, bring your body and soul into subjection to the Holy Spirit.

 

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FROM THE FASTING ARCHIVES:

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  1. Derek Prince, Shaping History Through Fasting and Prayer, (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2002), 102
  2. Ibid., 102


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