In 1995 Pastor Miles began a ministry called Miles Ahead and has preparing his team for their first evangelistic youth event at the Sports Arena. In all the stress of preparing, he realized something was missing. Then Miles was encouraged to seek God through prayer and fasting, so he led his team to fast for 40 days. This turned out to be the most incredible experience of his life.
There are some things that cannot happen in your life until you surrender more of yourself to God.
Today's passage is the story of a boy who is demon-possessed and has not been able to be helped by anyone. When Jesus comes, He speaks and the demon is gone. The disciples wonder in amazement how Jesus was able to heal the boy and his reply is, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting." (v. 29)
There are some things that cannot happen in your life until you surrender more of yourself to God. So Pastor Miles is challenging the church to undertake a 21-day fast to seek the Lord.
1. Fasting is to voluntarily abstain from eating/drinking for an extended period of time.
"Eating" and "drinking" may anything that is holding you back. Think about what you "consume" in terms of social food, intellectual food, spiritual food, and emotional food. Are these things distracting you from your relationship with God?
Fasting is from your perceived life support so that you may focus exclusively on the Lord, your actual life support.
Some of you are relying on things that have nothing to do with God to get you through your day. You may not even realize you have an addiction. For example, if you "have to have" coffee every day and you are not willing to give it up, you are addicted. Maybe your fast needs to just be about coffee—ask God and He will show you.
Everyone doing a physical fast should consult a physician first. If you have medical issues, consider fasting TV or media. The point is that there is something God wants you to separate yourself from for three weeks so that you can see Him more clearly. Don't cheat yourself by removing yourself from the fast entirely.
2. Fasting goal: a personal encounter with the living God.
"He must increase and [we] must decrease." John 3:30
"Be ye holy, for I am holy." 1 Peter 1:16
You may experience many benefits from fasting (cleansing your body, breaking addictions, etc.), but the goal of fasting is to experience God. Right now your life may be all about you, what you want and when you want it. But if you can separate yourself from your perceived needs (such as food), you will see that life is all about Him.
Other examples of biblical fasting:
Special revelation - Exodus 34:27-28
In times of war - Judges 20:26
Courage and wisdom - Esther 4:3,16
In times of grief - Nehemiah 1:4, 2 Samuel 1:12, Samuel 31:13, 1 Chronicles 10:12
Spiritual recuperation - I Kings 19:1-9
Mourning - Daniel 10:1-3
Repentance - Jonah 3:5, Daniel 6:18
Ministry preparation - Matthew 4:2
Spiritual power - Mark 9:29
Ministry commissioning - Acts 14:23
Set aside self for holiness - 1 Corinthians 7:5
Spiritual discipline - 1 Corinthians 11:24-28 says that Paul "fasted often."
3. Fasting Preparation:
- Prepare your heart.
In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God appears to Solomon and explains that if His people are going through a hard time, all they need to do is seek Him and follow His ways and He will hear their prayers and heal them.
Be willing to hear what your crooked ways are and be willing to change. Don't just keep sinning! What are the paths He wants you to walk? How much does He want you to prayer and read His Word? Let God know that you surrender your life to Him and that you want more of Him, His way.
- Prepare your motives.
Ephesians 1:3 tells us that there are spiritual blessings assigned to us. We can never exhaust them! Who knows what God wants to give you or show to you. Maybe He wants to bestow gifts such as wisdom, anointing, prayer power, healing power, teaching power, joy, or encouragement. When you eliminate some of the thing you view as your life support, God is able to show you things about your life that you never knew.
Pastor Miles likened God's vastness to the ocean. When we stand on the shore and look at the horizon, we can see for about 14 miles. But how many more thousands of miles of ocean are out there? There are valleys deeper in the ocean than any mountain above the water! It is so cast that we could never understand it all. God is infinitely bigger than that, so will we be satisfied only seeing that 14 miles, or do we want to know more of Him?
- Prepare your body
The first part of the church fast is outlined to cleanse the body by only eating fruits and vegetables. You may feel a little sick as your body detoxes, but you'll make it! This isn't a mind game to see if you can survive eating less or not watching ESPN, but about experiencing God! Pastor Miles says that some people ask, "What does not eating have to do with my relationship with God?" His answer is, "Stop eating and find out."
- Prepare your schedule.
Decide what and when you will eat, where you will meet with God, and how you will spend your time differently. Remember, the fast is about communing with God, so don't just fill your time with distractions that will keep you from feeling hungry; set out a plan to have more time with the Lord.
4. Fasting Guidelines
- Explain to your family in advance what you are doing.
- Request privacy from those who do find out.
- Ask them not to discuss it until your fast is over.
- Never complain or brag about your fast, and avoid talking about it.
Jesus instructs in Matthew 6:16-18 that whenever we fast, we should present ourselves as healthy and well-kept, not as suffering. Our fasting is for the benefit of drawing near to God, not to win the approval of others. Don't call attention to yourself or your sacrifice of food (or whatever else you are fasting). God can see what you are doing, and He will be pleased.
- Establish an accountability partner for prayer & encouragement.
Find a brother/sister in Christ who can ask you tough questions and help to keep you on track with your commitment.
- Stay away from negative people.
You can always find nay-sayers to discourage you and make you feel foolish. Minimize your interaction with people who are not supportive of your desire to glean more from God.
- Spend as much time as possible alone in solitude and prayer.
Slow down. Are you on an out-of-control treadmill of life, running so fast that you can't stop? Get off the treadmill and sit with God. Let Him reveal the necessary and unnecessary commitments in your life.
- Acknowledge that your flesh cannot be trained but must be crucified.
And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24
You can't train your flesh to be godly – it must be crucified. Say no to the desires of the flesh and yes to the Spirit.
Once you have begun your fast, journal as you pray meet with the Lord. Write down the miracles God does in your life!