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Fasting Day 15: Fresh Inspiration from the Archives

Fresh fasting inspiration from the archives

Fasting Day Fifteen Posts from the Archives:

 

Waiting Expectantly:
Praying in Hope When Times Seem Hopeless

bird feeding

Are you praying expectantly? Or do you find yourself filled with more apathy than expectation?

I’m sitting in my car in a small, quiet parking lot near an arboretum. I wanted to steal away and pray a few moments this afternoon. …

The main thing on my heart was praying and asking God what He wanted to say in today’s post. But first I had to pray through some major frustrations from the day and let God put me in a place where I could even hear Him. (It’s been that kind of day.)

I did what I do when I can’t find words to pray, or am not in a spirit of prayer but want to be—I started praying the Psalms. As I reached Psalm 25:5, one word got stuck in my throat—“expectantly.”

“Guide me in Your truth and faithfulness and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You [You only and altogether] do I wait [expectantly] all the day long” (Psalm 25:5, emphasis added).1

Waiting

Okay. So fasting is waiting. I’ve got the waiting part down. I’m waiting … but doing it expecting God to respond? Not so much, according to the conviction I felt from the Holy Spirit. I’m not fasting as expectantly as I have in the past … or even a few months ago.

The past few years have been some of the hardest and most discouraging and wearying and draining of my life. Every year has grown worse than the year before it, testing endurance and expectation seemingly beyond limits, much like the years of my devastating illness. And the past few months have contained as much trauma and trials as the past few years combined … and I thought they were bad, having almost totally crushed my spirit. This is the context in which God spoke the word “expect!”

“Natalie,” He said, “You’re not fasting and praying with expectation. You can pray and believe and expect for everyone else and every other situation. But because you’ve experienced silence from Heaven in recent history, you’re not expecting Me to move in response to the cry of your heart.”

If this is you, too …

If you were to be totally honest, would you say that you’re praying expectantly? Or do you find yourself filled with more apathy than expectation?

Do you feel like you’ve received a cold shoulder and a closed door from Heaven—such that you find yourself completely unable to muster any positive expectation?

Beloved, if this is you, you’re not alone. God wants to enable you and me to pray and wait expectantly for Him.

Confess to God your lack of expectation. Ask Him to fill you with His hope and help you confidently, expectantly, look to Him.

You can confidently expect Him to respond to your prayers because …

 

Fasting Day 15: Fasting is Waiting

Fasting is waiting upon God, expressing confidence and hope in nothing around us except God Himself. He promises to bless those who wait for Him.

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Fasting is waiting — waiting on God.

When King Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast for all Judah, he prayed “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (2 Chron. 20:12).

In a similar way, fasting is saying, “I wait on you, Lord. My only hope is in you.”

Fasting expresses confidence in nothing around us except God Himself. When we fast, we shift our focus from the temporal, visible securities to the spiritual. We stop clinging to and depending on earthly things. When we fast, we are expressing the fact that we are waiting for and putting our full weight upon God.

 

quotes

The following excerpts from Martin Lloyd-Jones, Andrew Bonar, Wesley Duewel, and Andrew Murray not only instruct us about fasting, they inspire us to combine our fasting with prayer! They motivate us to get into the prayer closet not just when we’re fasting, but all year long.

Nuggets of truth are tucked inside these brief quotes. Application questions beneath the excerpts help us extract important truths and apply them to our lives.


Andrew Bonar 
(1810 – 1892)

Fasting is abstaining from anything that hinders prayer.

Oh brother, pray; in spite of Satan, pray; spend hours in prayer; rather neglect friends than not pray; rather fast, and lose breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper – and sleep too – than not pray. And we must not talk about prayer, we must pray inright earnest. The Lord is near. He comes softly while the virgins slumber. [2]

God will not let me get the blessing without asking. Today I am setting my face to fast and pray for enlightenment and refreshing. Until I can get up to the measure of at least two hours in pure prayer every day, I shall not be contented. Meditation and reading besides. [3]

The Prince of the power of the air seems to bend all the force of his attack against the spirit of prayer.

— From Diary and Letters

Application: Though he was an avid reader, Andrew Bonar fasted at times from his love for reading in order to find time to pray and commune with God.

Fasting is doing without food for a spiritual purpose. In the Bible, fasting refers to abstaining from food. However, in order to adequately focus on prayer while abstaining from food, we may find it helpful to abstain from television, movies, entertainment, radio, internet, sports … or even from reading books—from permissible, even profitable things—in order to dedicate time to prayer and reading the Bible.

As Bonar exhorts, it is better to lose sleep, neglect friends, and skip meals than to not pray. We must pray. In order to pray, we must forego the things that hinder it, even when they are perfectly acceptable activities.

Are you also abstaining from the things that have kept you from the prayer closet? Are you dedicating additional time to prayer during your fast? Like Bonar, would you rather neglect friends or food or sleep than neglect prayer? Do you talk about prayer more than you actually pray?

 

Fasting Day 15: Lives of Influence

John the Baptist fasted with his disciples all the time. Jesus spoke of John the Baptist as one with the greatest influence. You and I can also live lives of influence and become great witnesses for Christ by following John the Baptist’s example of fasting.

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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).

 

Fasting Day 15: The Good News

Cornelius was a religious man in the New Testament who fasted and prayed. He was extremely devout and religious. Yet, in spite of his religious involvement, prayer and seeking, Cornelius was still unaware of a vital element of God’s truth. He had not yet heard the Good News…

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Cornelius was a religious man in the New Testament who fasted and prayed. He was “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always” (Acts 10:2).

In spite of his religious involvement, prayer and seeking, Cornelius was still unaware of a vital element of God’s truth. He had not yet heard the Good News.

One day, as Cornelius was fasting, an angel appeared to him and gave him specific instructions to send for a man named Peter in Joppa (Acts 10:5-8). “When he comes,” the angel said, “he will speak to you.”

In expectation of the news Peter would bring, Cornelius gathered his family and friends. “We are all here,” Cornelius told Peter when he arrived, “waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you.”

What was this revolutionary word that Peter brought? Cornelius was a very religious, devout man. He was good. He was generous. He seemed to have his spiritual path all mapped out. What could he possibly have been missing?

 

Fasting Day 15: For the Nation

Only the supernatural can stem the tides of judgment devastating our land. Nothing else can compare with the supernatural power released when we fast and pray.

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Doing what is right, living according to God’s standard, exalts and blesses a nation. Because God is sovereign and holy, He cannot bless a nation that has turned away from Him. America’s cup of iniquity is overflowing. We have turned our back on God. We have turned to greed (idolatry), sexual perversion, rationalization, Baal (the god of prosperity), materialism and self-worship.

About fifty-four years later, God sent Judah a message through the prophet Jeremiah. We are guilty of these same two sins that Judah committed.

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water…return to me oh faithless ones and I will heal your faithlessness” (Jeremiah 2:13).

We have to turn from our sins and turn to God. Repentance is necessary. We cannot expect God to hear our prayers if we aren’t going to honor Him as God. He comes to us on His terms — not on our terms.

 

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