Week One, January 8-14
Passion, because only those who are fully invested in prayer feel strongly enough about what they are praying to get understanding or a revelation of it the spirit and see it through in the flesh. However, many times, we find ourselves in a place where we have lost our passion in prayer or have stopped praying for certain things altogether because we lost heart or gave up. But God invites us to keep our asking, seeking and knocking before Him and trust Him for an answer in His time. (Matthew 7:7-11) It is His invitation to us to press into the place of relentless pursuit in the place of prayer.
Day 1 -21 Days of Feasting by Fasting
Return To Me
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.
Joel 2:12 NIV
If one were to look at the kind of fasting that took place in the Old Testament, it would be easy to assume that the reason for fasting is to gain forgiveness. In the book of Joel, the Israelites had wandered far from God, and their sinfulness had resulted in famine and pestilence in the land. Through the prophet Joel, God called them to repentance, ordering them to declare a sacrificial fast. These things along with mourning and weeping, would show God the sincerity of their repentance. In return, the prophet said, perhaps God would, “turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing.”
Such a fast of repentance is seen under the Old Covenant time and again, because under the Old Covenant man had to rely on his works and sacrifices to avert the wrath of God. But under the New Covenant, we don’t have to fast for forgiveness. Every wrong we have done and will do was forgiven at the cross, and when we surrender to and accept Christ as Lord, we walk under a New Covenant of grace and forgiveness! We don’t have to fast, weep and mourn to convince God of our sincere repentance or to avert His wrath. I Thessalonians 5:9 tells us that, “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” So then, why do we, as people under a New Covenant, need to set aside special times devoted to fasting and prayer?
As we walk with God, we will go through times where we feel far from Him or disconnected. Joel’s words resonate with us who live in a context of grace – “return to Me with all your heart.” There are times we realize that, though we have chosen to follow Jesus, the flame of our love for Him has grown cold. It is during these times we can return to God with our whole heart, put aside the distractions of the world and focus solely on loving Him. Solely focus on dinning at the table He has prepared for us in the Spirit.
We can lose our sense of identity in Christ unless we take time to focus on the one from whom we get our identity. Things have a way of piling on. The result is a life filled with good intentions but no passion, no sacrifice, no commitment to our relationship with Jesus and consequently lesser bearing of Kingdom oriented spiritual fruit. But in a season of fasting, where we are focused and fastened to the heart of Jesus and what He wants, your time spent in prayer each day of the 21 can result in a new awakening, a new richness, a rewarding connection with the Father. No matter where you are on your journey with Jesus, you can always take a step closer towards Him.
As we begin this time of prayer and fasting, let’s turn our hearts toward God. Make a commitment to seek God daily. Pray that your love for Christ will be increased and your passion for Him will be reignited over the next 21 days of feasting by fasting.
Day 2 -21 Days of Feasting by Fasting
John 10:27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
Have you ever been searching for a radio station only to be frustrated by finding static rather than music? You then focus to fine tune the dial again, and suddenly you hear a clear signal. The fact is, the signal always existed on the airwaves; the only difference is that now you have adjusted your tuner to the right frequency.
In our hectic lives, there are so many signals bombarding our senses that it can become difficult to distinguish God’s voice from the deafening “static noise” of life. Fasting enables us to tune out the world’s distractions and tune in to God. As we fast, we deny our flesh. When we deny our flesh, we become more in tune to the Holy Spirit and can hear God’s voice more clearly. If you truly listen for God’s voice, you will hear it. When you hear it, it will build faith within you.
If you desire to tune out the static of life and really tune into the voice of God, come to Him first and foremost with ears that are willing to listen and a heart that is ready to obey what he says. (Psalm 34:18, Isaiah 66:2) The more we practice being in His presence, the clearer and more recognizable His voice becomes.
In this time of fasting, what is your mind tuned to? What distractions do you need to remove so that you can focus on God? Prepare your heart to hear the voice of God, and ask God to help you remove distractions that keep you from focusing on Him and hearing Him clearly.
Day 3 –21 Days of Feasting by Fasting
Fasting Removes Unbelief
18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, that if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there’, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
When we pray and fast, we don’t do so to change God or His will. By praying and fasting, we are the ones changed. Coming into alignment with God helps us curb our doubts and fears. When we pray and fast, the thing that leaves - - the thing that “goes out”-- is our unbelief. It is when we have faith to believe, that we can pray with confidence and know that “nothing will be impossible” as we live to bring glory to God.
Ask God to strengthen our hearts to fully believe Him and believe His word. It is okay to recognize and acknowledge if you struggle with unbelief. It’s the first step in allowing God to strengthen your faith and bring you into alignment with His plan for your life.
What is it that you need faith to believe for? Align yourself with God’s Word and will during this fast. Release your unbelief. Pray with confidence, knowing “nothing will be impossible for you.”
Day 4 -21 Days of Feasting by Fasting
Agreement With the Will of God
Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?
Relationship. When we surrender to Christ we come alive to the nature we were created to carry and reflect from the beginning. The nature of our redeemer at work in us continuously draws us into places of encounter where our actions expose the degree to which we are actually operating in agreement with His work. In the heart of every believer is the desire to walk closely with God. We know that He too desires a close relationship with each one of us. A key to having a strong level of spiritual intimacy with God is living in agreement with His will for our lives. This requires an intentional putting to death and denial of our flesh and old nature. Our fleshly desires can no longer be permitted to reign on the throne of our lives. Our pre-Christian/sin nature must be denied the sustenance of a seat at the table of decision in our lives. We must assert the Spirit over our flesh daily.
In Genesis 5:22, we read of Enoch and see that his life modeled a long journey, walking consistently with God, for it says, “Enoch walked with God 300 years...” Enoch lived a powerful life. He was a man that walked in agreement with God’s will and lived a life pleasing to God. (Hebrews 11:5b)
It is one thing to know God’s will for our lives; it’s another to live in agreement with His will and work. In order to enjoy the best life that God has for us, we must first understand that God does not change, but we must. Transformation is not occurring in us if He is not permitted to change us. Many people want God to change their lives just not themselves in midst of their lives. His plans and purposes are greater than our demands and expectations. Let’s earnestly seek to know and agree with God’s will for our lives. The level of our agreement with God will determine the degree of closeness in our walk with Him.
Pray today that we can walk in agreement with God and enjoy the life that He desires us to have in Christ.
Day 5 -21 Days of Feasting By Fasting
When Grace Comes Down
John 1:17 NIV
For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you could see God for who He really is? What would He say about the state of humanity? About religion? About our own propensity toward sin? There is no need to wonder about what God is like because to know Him, we have only to look at Jesus. In Jesus we have received grace, but there is even something more that we have received. We have received truth.
The kind of truth John is talking about in this passage is not a list of laws and rules such as were given to Moses. Make no mistake; the revelation of God through the word of the law was glorious. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai after receiving the commandments, his face shone so brightly with the glory of God that he had to wear a veil. But the word of the law cannot compare with the word of life that has been revealed through Jesus Christ!
In John 1:18, we are told that no one – not even Moses – had ever seen God. But Jesus has not only seen God; He is God. The truth that John is speaking about is a clear and unveiled vision of the true nature of God. When we try to look at God through the lens of legalism and religion, it is like looking at Him through a veil. Only when we see Him though Jesus Christ can we truly get a glimpse into His heart. It is from a state of grace, not legalism, that we will find real and lasting transformation. (2 Corinthians 3:7-18)
Have you been looking at God through the veil of legalism and religion? In Jesus, we see the full revelation of the nature of God – His love and holiness, mercy and justice, compassion and power all perfectly and beautifully expressed. Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you see God through the eyes of grace and truth given to us in Jesus Christ.
Day 6-21 Days of Feasting by Fasting
Reliance on God
Romans 7:18-20 NLT 18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong, it is sin living in me that does it.
There’s an internal war that often wages within each and every one of us. Paul describes this so well here in Romans 7 – we desire to do the right thing, but in our own efforts, we don’t have the power to and we mess up.
The good news is that we don’t have to rely on our own strength to make right decisions. We don’t have to be dominated by our sinful nature and end up doing the things we don’t want to do. But the only way we can live this kind of life is by yielding to the Holy Spirit and relying on the strength of Jesus Christ, not our own.
When we’re facing struggles, we must rely on God’s power alive within us through the Holy Spirit. When we are born again, the Holy Spirit resides in us and places in us the desire to do what is pleasing to God. (Hebrews 10:16) The Holy Spirit always wants to do what is right. He always wants to uphold the perfect will of God, pleasing the Father in every way. It is our job to lay down our stubborn fleshly will and yield to the will of God. In that moment, the Holy Spirit will be there to help us in our time of need. Instead of trusting in our own strength, let’s learn to yield to and become totally reliant upon the Holy Spirit.
Are there areas in your life causing an internal struggle? Make a decision today that you will yield to the Holy Spirit and lean on His strength, not your own, to overcome obstacles of sin and selfishness in your life. Surrender and release those areas to God, knowing He will help you.
Day 7 -21 Days of Feasting by Fasting
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Fervency speaks of our level of intensity, passion and persistence. When this scripture was translated it was from a larger contextualized understanding as best as the translators could see it their language. The idea of fervency in verse 16 is linked to earnestness being gleaned from verse 17 where in the Greek it reads Elijah prays with prayer. This means that translators were asking how do we translate this emphasis of praying with prayer…it is apparent that the idea is prayer that is delivered from a person who is fully invested both in declaration and the realization. Thus fervent, effectual and earnest. Today this might be called passion. Passion, because only those who are fully invested in prayer feel strongly enough about what they are praying to get understanding or a revelation of it the spirit and see it through in the flesh. However, many times, we find ourselves in a place where we have lost our passion in prayer or have stopped praying for certain things altogether because we lost heart or gave up. But God invites us to keep our asking, seeking and knocking before Him and trust Him for an answer in His time. (Matthew 7:7-11) It is His invitation to us to press into the place of relentless pursuit in the place of prayer.
The Old Testament prophet, Elijah, practiced a lifestyle of fervent, intense prayer and he witnessed incredible miracles in his lifetime as a result. His kind of prayer is what we call supplication. This kind of prayer puts an “ask” or a draw on the only authority capable of supernaturally intervening in the issues of our lives. When Elijah prayed, he made supplication to God to intervene in issues that seemed insurmountable In 1 Kings 17:17-24, we read of a woman whose only son became ill and died. When Elijah heard the news he quickly took action and did what he knew best – he fervently cried out to God as authority over life and death. He was facing a gut punch to his faith, but fought back by crying out to God to restore and correct what was broken and hopeless. Elijah determined to fully believe that God could bring the boy back to life, and he didn’t pray just once. It is recorded that he prayed three times for the boy’s soul to return to him. He prayed fervently, repeatedly and he wasn’t going to give up. No, He pressed in. Verse 22 reads, “then the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived.”
Elijah’s prayer was answered through his persistence and fervency. God hears your prayers as well and will bring an answer in His perfect timing. But don’t be discouraged or disheartened if the answer is not exactly what you expected. Press in to Jesus and pray again. Commit to praying to God with passion and persistence, trusting the answer will come in God’s perfect way and in His perfect timing.
As we close out this first week, continue to pray fervently for the main areas of concern in your life. Trust God to bring an answer as you journal your thoughts and inspirations through this time.
(adapted for New Life from awake21.org)