If you read Pastor Becky’s recent post or or attend the City Church regularly, then you know that our community is in the midst of a 21 day season of prayer and fasting. We love to take this space together every year to connect with God and ask Him to do what He does. We pray together and we agree together for miracles to happen. It’s a wonderful reminder that God is the center of our lives and a chance to invite Him to be the center of our year.
There are many examples of fasting in the Bible. Most importantly, Jesus himself fasted for forty days in the wilderness before he began teaching and preaching and healing people. Jesus taught that there are times to fast and times to feast together. Both are valuable and important. Our lives are not meant to be lived in a constant state of fasting but when we take a season and do fast, we experience God in a powerful way. Fasting is a reminder of our dependence on God, that He alone is our source! When the enemy came to tempt Jesus to use his power to turn stones into bread, Jesus quoted a scripture from the book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament and said, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matt. 4:3-4 NLT). God knows we will live our very best and fullest lives only when we are completely dependent on Him!
Maybe you’d like to join us this year. It’s not too late! Just ask God what you should fast. Sugar, meat, bread, coffee, alcohol, etc. are all good options to start with. It’s usually good to give up something you like. Some people give up one meal a day or fast for a certain time period during the day. If you’re planning to do an extreme fast, it’s essential that you consult a doctor. When the Bible mentions fasting it is always in reference to food, but we also make an effort, during this time, to simplify our lives so that we can listen and hear from God. Maybe there are some non-essential, time-consuming activities you could suspend during this season. I told God I’d probably hear him better if I gave up work or caring for my children (ha- kidding!) but that didn’t fall under the nonessential category. I have, at times, given up shopping , social media, television, fiction books, etc. in order to clear my mind and make more time to pray and meditate on scriptures in the Bible. It’s amazing how we can experience God when we just make some space for Him in our brains!
Maybe you’re already fasting, and you’re in the midst of it. Don’t give up! We’re all in this together. I’ve had moments of failure and days with great God experiences too. To encourage us all to finish strong, I asked some women in our community to send in their stories from past seasons of prayer and fasting. Let them encourage you! And, if you have a request for God this year, post it in the comment section of Pastor Becky’s post so we can pray for you as well. We believe God is going to do big things this year.
“I have practiced fasting since I was 12 years old. I gained the ability to tell my body when it was going to eat, and not the other way around. In High School I had been fasting a week when I ran and beat my own time, running the mile. This self discipline helped me during times of traveling and ministering. There were times we had to minister for hours before we could grab a meal. I also felt a closer connection to the Lord and the ability to hear the Holy Spirit. I would fast to spend time with the Lord, get free in a particular area, contend for answers to prayer, and to engage in spiritual warfare.”
-Carole Kornreich, Agoura Campus
“The first time I went on an extended fast was the time my neighbor, who never spoke to me, came over crying, informing me she was pregnant, but wanted an abortion, because she was concerned about her marriage. She told me when she prayed, the Lord told her to come see me. It was the second day of my 3 day fast. I didn’t even want to continue the fast. I mean I wanted to but I was irritable!! Haha. When the Lord sent Diane over, I began to understand the depths of fasting. It wasn’t just for myself. It was to loose the chains of those who are bound like Isaiah 58 (CEV) reads. Fasting is not about pleasing myself. It’s about what verse 6-8 tells us:
(Isa 58:6) “I will tell you the kind of day I want–a day to set people free. I want a day that you take the burdens off others. I want a day when you set troubled people free and you take the burdens from their shoulders.
(Isa 58:7) I want you to share your food with the hungry. I want you to find the poor who don’t have homes and bring them into your own homes. When you see people who have no clothes, give them your clothes! Don’t hide from your relatives when they need help.”
(Isa 58:8) If you do these things, your light will begin to shine like the light of dawn. Then your wounds will heal. Your “Goodness” will walk in front of you, and the Glory of the LORD will come following behind you,”
Esther fasted and went in before the King to plead for her nation. Daniel fasted for God’s will to be done for the nation of Israel to return home. In Acts, they fasted and prayed for the right men to send out to evangelize the world and thus Paul and Barnabus began their ministry! In Joel, God asks the people to fast in repentance and turn back to Him. Anna lived to worship God by fasting and praying from youth. Jesus told the disciples that certain strongholds are only broken by prayer and fasting. When we give up the desires that our flesh craves, and prayerfully seek the Lord, He will meet us, and set us free. Our minds become clear to hear his voice as we make decisions. God will use us and draw us deeper and closer to Him.
That’s what the Lord did for Diane back in 1991. She came to my door, and the Lord delivered her. She had her precious baby, Hannah, and Diane and I became good friends. She gave her heart to the Lord and her Hannah, who is 24 now, follows Jesus also and easily shares her testimony of how her mom almost gave her up, but the Lord sent her to my door. God knew I had had an abortion when I was 19, so I had a special grace to minister to Diane from that place of sorrow and pain.
Then there’s also Raul. Raul has been in my family since he was in daycare with me at one year of age. He calls me mom and he is a son to me. Raul called me up one time and told me that he went to school with Hannah and she was ministering to him in Christ. He let me know that she had told him about me, how her mom came over and she said it was because of my intervention that she is alive today. We all know it’s God, and God chose to use this girl.
So you see how God plays the best chess game in the universe!?! He took the most tragic thing that I ever did, and not only used it to bless my neighbor, creating a lifetime bond, but also to bless my son Raul!!
What a mighty God we serve!!”
-Kathy Hageman, Ventura Campus