Since Authentic Christian Living is focusing on a theme of transformation of our lives, it seemed beneficial to focus on how to accomplish this transformation within the new year. There is power in prayer and fasting. Two thoughts have gone into this act of service to seek out the will of our Heavenly Father for our own lives and the lives around us.
First, we must come to understand and accept the simple truth of what Christ spoke to the devil when He (Christ) was tempted:
4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:1-4; NASB).
Christ quoted from the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 8:3:
3 He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.
Second, we must understand that a true transformation toward a more authentic Christian lifestyle focuses on the fact that we must do so through the process of renewing our mind:
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2 NASB).
Accepting and knowing that we must seek after the sustenance of God, our lives will become transformed in a manner which we could never accomplish of our own volition. The truth is, that when we become a new creation through the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, the process of transformation begins and does not end until we have endured the trials we are called upon to face in this life. In reality, we do not stop transforming our lives until we stand before Christ and hear those precious words – well done good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21; NASB)
Engaging in fasting and prayer to a truly transformed Christian lifestyle
Throughout Holy Writ, we read how the prophets and men went into a time of fasting and prayer. Various reasons involved as to the purpose of fasting. Even the Savior himself entered into a time period of fasting and prayer. Today, we follow the example of such spiritual giants of the Old and New Testament and seek after the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33; NASB).
Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ writes the following:
I believe the power of fasting as it relates to prayer is the spiritual atomic bomb that our Lord has given us to destroy the strongholds of evil and usher in a great revival and spiritual harvest around the world.
Mr. Bright continues with the following statement:
As I began my fast, I was not sure I could continue for forty days. But my confidence was in the Lord to help me. Each day His presence encouraged me to continue. The longer I fasted, the more I sensed the presence of the Lord. The Holy Spirit refreshed my soul and spirit, and I experienced the joy of the Lord as seldom before. Biblical truths leaped at me from the pages of God’s Word. My faith soared as I humbled myself and cried out to God and rejoiced in His presence.
Bill Bright, then, provides some basic steps in regards to one’s purpose in fasting and prayer:
Step 1: Set your objective
This objective is two-fold. First, an individual will come with their own personal objective as to how and why they are desiring to enter into a period of prayer and fasting. The objective here is to seek out a truly transformed Christian life that is genuine and authentic for the coming new year. The second aspect of this is seeking the guidance and companionship in order for this transformation to take place. Meaning, we come before the throne of a Sovereign loving Heavenly Father and make our petition known. Then, we seek the guidance and companionship of the Holy Spirit in how the sovereign will of God will begin to work in our own lives to revive our spirits, bring us out of our previously conformity and world perception. As Bill Bright says, this will enable [each one of us] to pray more specifically and strategically during the forty days of fasting and prayer.
Step 2: Make a commitment to fasting and prayer
This involves the duration of one’s fasting. For those who never fasted, Bill Bright suggests starting out slowly, building up to longer fasting periods. Next, we must commit to a specific type of fast. Fasting is giving up earthly pleasures in order to seek a higher attainment and aligning our will and desires with that to God’s sovereign will and desire. Third, one ought to consider types of physical or social activities that they are willing to restrict themselves from. Finally, a commitment to how much time and what time of the day are we willing to devote to prayer and reading God’s word.
Step 3: Prepare yourself spiritually
Bill Bright continues with how one ought to prepare themselves spiritually by listing the following:
- Ask God to help yo make a comprehensive list of your sins.
- Confess every sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and accept God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9)
- Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3-4).
- Make restitution as the Holy Spirit Leads you.
- Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit according to His command in Ephesians 5:18 and His promise in 1 John 5:14-15.
- Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master, refuse to obey your worldly nature (Romans 12:1-2).
- Meditate on the attributes of God, His love, sovereignty, power, wisdom, faithfulness, grace, compassion, and others (Psalm 48:9-10; 103:1-8, 11-13).
- Begin your time of fasting and prayer with an expectant heart (Hebrews 11:6).
- Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan will sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit (Galatians 5:16-17).
Once one has prepared themselves spiritually, then one is ready for the fourth stage.
Step 4: Prepare yourself physically
According to Bill Bright’s 7-basic principles of fasting, there are precautions one must take. First, a consultation with one’s primary care physician – this is especially true if one is currently on prescribed medication, or suffer from some form of chronic ailment. Other areas are to make the transition easier and not drastic in change. This enables one to fully become present and attentive to the Lord in prayer.
Step 5: Put yourself on a schedule
Developing a routine will help ensure a committed and successful time in prayer and fasting. After all, this is about us seeking a renewed and transformed lifestyle in follow Christ. Bill Bright suggests three times a day where one may focus some time in prayer during their fasting. However one is able to work into the schedule, the recommendation is to begin the day with praise and worship, reading and meditating on the word of God, invitation for the Holy Spirit to work within our hearts and minds to align our will to that of God’s will and good pleasure, seek how we are able to be used by our Heavenly Father by how we can influence our world, family and church et al. We then may want to seek for God’s sovereign vision for our life and empowerment to accomplish His will.
In the afternoon, we may want to consider to return to prayer and His Word, take a short “walk with God” and spend time with him in prayer, and may include time to intercede on behalf of others we are close to or who come to our thoughts and minds.
Finally, when we close out our day in the evening, we may want to limit the distractions and isolate ourselves to “return and report” to our Heavenly Father, this may include sitting with family and friends who may be engaged in fasting with us and pray together.
Step 6: Gradually end your fast
When it comes close to ending the time of fasting, it is suggested to gradually begin to introduce solid foods (if one has consumed Juiced drinks). Bill Bright provides some simple suggestions in how to accomplish this.
Step 7: Expect results from your time in prayer and fasting
The blessing and power of fasting and prayer creates a greater spiritual awakening within ourselves as we have sought out the will and desire of our Heavenly Father. In addition, we ought to expect fresh and new spiritual insights, as well as our confidence in our Heavenly Father is strengthened. In essence, we gain a spiritual vitality that helps strengthen our faith where our lives are transformed in a way that becomes closer to a spiritually mature individual in Jesus Christ. This also helps us to expect greater spiritual results and renewed mindset when we engage in smaller fasts (once a month for twenty-four or forty-eight hours).
After the forty-days of fasting and prayer
Once we have completed our time in this spiritual journey, we must maintain that newness of transformation by disciplining ourselves with consistent time in prayer and meditation upon the word of God. Remember, the purpose is to seek out a greater transformation in our own lives and hearts where we renew our minds on the things of God and prove them to be acceptable and good. Each fast is different, and the results will vary from one individual to another individual. However, the overall purpose is to seek after a transformed authentic Christian life that is based on the will and word of God for our own lives and how we can become an influence in the lives of others around us.
It is the hope that when we engage in this journey of transformation, it will solidify and build up a discipline in coming to the Lord with a renewed hope and strength through faith and grace that we may not have known before.
Therefore, Authentic Christian Living will post daily articles that focus on this time period of fasting and prayer and readers are always welcomed to respond and discuss how this is helping transform their lives in building up their faith and relationship with Jesus Christ.
Bear in mind that fasting does not mean to fast for forty-days straight. It can be as simple as fasting two days of the week for forty days with continued daily prayer and meditation, or it can be fasting daily with one meal to break the fast each day. However you are led by the power of the Holy Spirit to begin your time in fasting and prayer, the end result ought to lead to a truly transformed authentic Christian lifestyle.