I am forever indebted to Dr. Jerry Falwell and Dr. Elmer Towns for introducing me to the blessing of Biblical Fasting during my days as a student at Liberty Theological Seminary. They introduced me to a biblical practice that I knew very little about and what I did know was primarily wrong. I had no clue the powerhouse that Biblical Fasting could be and the profound difference it would make to my faith and ministry through the years. Fasting has been a part of my spiritual life now for years as well as my wife and now our children’s lives. Our family launched 2012 with a twenty-one Daniel Fast and I am doubly blessed to pastor a church that has joined us in this season of repentance, renewal and refocusing with their pastor’s family. Surprisingly there are a number of pastors and churches that have relegated fasting to an Old Testament discipline and openly teach that fasting is not for the New Testament believer. The Gospel of Matthew reveals that not only is fasting acceptable but it is expected in the Christian’s life. In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew our Lord reveals what the old preachers came to call “the threefold cord” of prayer, fasting and giving. Many Christians have been taught to approach the Bible “devotionally” which is essentially extracting a passage of scripture from its contextual meaning, imposing their own interpretation for “soulish” purposes that ultimately elect their feelings as the final authority instead of the Holy Spirit and the Bible. This is why so many have missed the simple but profound teaching concerning the “threefold cord” of prayer, fasting and giving taught by our Lord in the Gospel of Matthew.
The sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew is part of a sermon by our Lord Jesus Christ that is known as the Beatitudes. In this sermon Jesus reveals the characteristics that identify His followers as they walked in the Spirit and live out the reality of “Christ in us the hope of glory”in this world. It is important that you beware of religious leaders that saddle you with a list of rules and/or regulations that are achieved through behavior modification or maintained by the strength of the flesh. This is not Biblical Christianity – it is dead religion that puts you under the tyranny and religious authority of man that keeps you from experiencing the Liberty of Jesus Christ.
The most common misconception concerning fasting is that we are sacrificing food in order to garner the acceptance, attention or affection of some distant and disgruntled deity. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Fasting is never about being accepted because we are already “accepted in the Beloved” and “called sons of the living God.” Fasting is part of a biblical “threefold cord” (fasting-praying-giving) that brings about sanctification of another “threefold cord” that the Apostle Paul identified as “your whole spirit and soul and body.”
Fasting renews our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit that is often dulled or numbed by our appetites and worldly affections. If you believe there are no strongholds of distraction or deception in your life (or your family) I challenge you to go home tonight and announce that for the next three days there will be no televisions, iPods, iPads, radios, cell phones, computers or other “electronic gods” to demand our attention and consume our time. Fasting is not about giving up something in order to get something from God. Fasting is about identifying the “gods” that are grieving the Spirit in my life and keeping me from receiving what Christ died to give me and what God is longing to give me. It has been my experience (and our family) that FASTING from things of the flesh is more correctly defined as FEASTING in the Spirit and Word. There is neither time nor space to begin to tell how God has prepared, provided and protected us during seasons of Fasting, Praying and Giving. I will share more of those blessings in the days to come. In my next entry we will look in greater detail to the “threefold cord” of fasting-praying-giving that our Lord taught in Matthew chapter six. To those who have launched 2012 in a Fast, I commend you and remind you that Blessings and Breakthroughs are on the way!
Pastor Jeff LaBorg