Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fasting as a Family

True fasting isn't a mechanical response to God, a merely external religious act. It is done from a heart truly dedicated to God, wanting to press onto Him more to realign our focus on Him.

We should be mindful of others - attending the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of others who may be in need. It is also not a theatrical show, as the hypocrites were accused of in the New Testament.

It isn't done so people will think that we are 'spiritually superior' (Matt. 6: 16-18). That is not the right motive or attitude. We need to have a humble heart, and be aware of our own weaknesses and shortcomings. No one needs to know we are fasting.

Prayer goes hand in hand. It is so important to couple fasting with prayer. Prayer for our Nation, our family and friends, the unsaved, our church leaders, ministries, missions, ourselves in the area of things we need real breakthrough in, and God's direction, purpose and plan for our lives. There is so much in need of our prayers. God can do mighty things in the spiritual realm, when we pray and fast - as long as we are in the right spirit of the fast. There are times we need to fast - but it shouldn't become a religious, legalistic thing.

There are basically four different types of fasts:

1 - Full Fast
Drink only liquids (you establish the number of days).

2 - The Daniel Fast
Eat no meat, no sweets and no bread. Drink water and juice. Eat fruits and vegetables. One type of partial fast that is gaining popularity among individuals and churches is the Daniel Fast. On this fast, commonly enjoyed foods are restricted for 21 days as you devote yourself to seeking the Lord.

The food guidelines for the Daniel Fast are based upon accounts of Daniel’s fasting experiences as recorded in the Bible. In Daniel 10, Daniel received a vision from the Lord that allowed him to see what would happen to the Israelites as result of their disobedience. Daniel was so grieved over what the Lord revealed to him that he entered into a state of mourning, or fasting. The Bible says that he ate no choice food and had no meat or wine for three weeks (10:2-3

3 - Day Fast
This fast can be a Full Fast, Daniel Fast or give up at least one item of food.

4 - Partial Fast
A partial fast is from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm or from sun up to sundown. You can select from any of these types of fasting —a Full Fast, Daniel Fast or give up at least one item of food.

Many couples might wonder it is alright for them to make love during a fast. In both the Old and New Testaments, God never commands couples to avoid sexual relations. It is amazing that God has warned us to not do certain things, but He never warns nor commands married couples to stop having sex. 

Paul says there is only one reason to not have sexual relations. It is for the purpose of prayer - for a short period of time. Apparently, some Christians in the city of Corinth thought there was virtue in avoiding sexual relations with one's spouse. One of the spouses or maybe both thought it was good to regularly avoid sexual relations.  Many believe that only men have a strong desire for sexual relations, but that is not true. Generally men do have the greater desire, but both men and women crave sex - some more than others and to greater degrees at different times in their lives. When a man does not want sexual relationships, there is usually something medically wrong with him or there is an emotional situation with his wife.

Our children don't have to be exempt either, to teach fasting to our children at a young age will help them in years to come to control themselves in many ways.  In an age where fad diets, health and nutrition are fueled by fashion with risks of anorexia and other eating disorders, those with teenage daughters should be alert, their fasting should be closely monitored.  Fasting is not fasting if it is not accompanied by prayer, self examination, works of love, increased worship, and repentance from sin and we should remind them of that.

Enjoyment is one thing, but power is quite another. It has been truly remarked, that "enjoyment is for heaven, but power is for earth." There is no opposition in heaven: everything there is favorable to the new life we possess in the Spirit. As the Spirit leads our souls into the enjoyment of our heavenly portion in Christ, our souls are sometimes outside ourselves and seen things. But the moment we go out into the world, we find ourselves in a contrary element. We find the whole array of Satan's power is against us to hinder our standing for Christ. The moment we are for Christ here, we must expect opposition. And nothing but divine power can enable us to stand against the adversary.

Ijeoma Olujekun

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