Fasting – an Expedient Appointment

That’s what John Calvin called voluntary absence from food for spiritual purposes. “Whenever men are to pray to God concerning any great matter, it would be expedient to appoint fasting along with prayer.”

He had good reason to advocate this given the godly examples we have in the Scriptures.

When Moses went up to Mt. Sinai to receive the law of God on tablets of stone, he went without bread and water in a supernatural fast for forty days and nights (Deut. 9:9).

When Nehemiah got word about the disastrous condition of Jerusalem’s walls and gates, he fasted and prayed for days about the situation (Neh. 1:4).

When Daniel perceived the seventy years that needed to pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, he sought the Lord with pleas for mercy with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes (Dan. 9:3).

Lest we think examples lie only in the Old Testament, the New Testament reveals that even Jesus practiced fasting for forty days when He went into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matt. 4:2).

The apostolic church followed suit by committing important decisions like sending out missionaries (Acts 13:2-3) and setting apart elders (Acts 14:23) for their work of ministry through prayer accompanied by fasting.

In the spirit of these examples, our elders have called our congregation to a 24 hour period of fasting and prayer for a special purpose. As many of our people know, our sister Chantel has fought for years now a battle with sleeplessness. We want to believe God for a breakthrough in 2013 restoring to Chantel normal and restorative sleep. The tenacity of this affliction and its wear and tear on our sister and her husband warrant our joining together in a concerted effort of fasting and prayer beginning at sundown tonight and ending with Communion tomorrow in our Good Friday service at 6 PM.

Again I would remind you, if physical limitations prohibit you from fasting from food, consider some other form of gospel-motivated self-denial in its place.

Regardless of your form of this expedient appointment to go with your praying, please remember these insightful words of Edith Schaeffer about fasting:

Is fasting ever a bribe to get God to pay more attention to the petitions ? No, a thousand times no. It is simply a way to make clear that we sufficiently reverence the amazing opportunity to ask help from the everlasting God, the Creator of the universe, to choose to put everything else aside and concentrate on worshiping, asking forgiveness, and making our requests known-considering His help more important than anything we could do ourselves in our own strength and with our own ideas.

May God hear our pleas and grant deliverance to our sister for His glory and our joy.

He Brooks No Rival

I admit it.

Working through this quarter’s edition of Free Grace Broadcaster on the topic of self-denial has left its share of bruises and wounds on my experience.

For example, consider this paragraph from one of the articles by Charles Spurgeon entitled Family or Christ?:

What, then, is the expense [of following Christ]?…The answer is given by our Savior, not by me. I should not have dared to invent such tests as He has ordained. It is for me to be the echo of His voice and no more. What does He say? Why, first, that if you would be His and have His salvation, you must love Him beyond every other person in this world. Is not that the meaning of this expression, “If any man come to me and hate not his father and mother”? Dear names! Dear names! “Father and mother!” Lives there a man with soul so dead that he can pronounce either of these words without emotion, and especially the last— “mother”? Men and brethren, this is a dear and tender name to us, it touches a chord that thrills our being. Yet far more powerful is the name of Savior, the name of Jesus. Less loved must father and mother be than Jesus Christ. The Lord demands precedence also of the best beloved “wife.” Here He touches another set of heartstrings. Dear is that word wife—partner of our being, comfort of our sorrow, delight of our eyes—“wife!” Yet, Wife, thou must not take the chief place, thou must sit at Jesus’ feet, or else thou art an idol; and Jesus will not brook thy rivalry. And “children,” the dear babes that nestle in the bosom, clamber to the knee, and pronounce the parent’s name in accents of music—they must not be our chief love. They must not come in between the Savior and us. Nor for their sakes—to give them pleasure or to promote their worldly advantage—must we grieve our Lord…If they tempt us to evil, they must be treated as if we hated them! Yea, the evil in them must be hated for Christ’s sake. If ye be Christ’s disciples, your Lord must be first, then father, mother, wife, children, brethren, and sisters will follow in due rank and order.

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