This blog post is based on my notes from Laying the Tracks for 2020 (Part 2), a teaching by Pastor Poju Oyemade at Covenant Christian Centre on Sunday December 1, 2019. You can download the complete teaching at elibrary.insightsforliving.org.
This teaching is essentially about faith. However, we will examine the concept of faith as it relates to the role of fasting and prayer.
The most powerful seasons of prayer are those that are offered during a time of a consecrated fast. When we fast for a protracted — for example, 21 days — it brings us into a place of faith that will work special miracles in our lives. Unusual things will happen because of the depth of faith we make contact with during a time of consecrated fast.
A fast makes for accelerated spiritual progress. Without prayer and fasting there are certain goals that may not be attained for years or perhaps forever, simply because people did not enter in a knowledgeable way into a long fast for the fulfilment of that thing. The most powerful agent known to man to heighten spiritual power in a short period of time is prayer and fasting. [Tweet that]
It is important to note that praying under a consecrated fast doesn’t change God but the fast changes us and positions us to receive from God. Fasting gives God the opportunity to do a deep cleansing work to remove the impediments that might be restricting the flow of His power to achieve certain things in our lives.
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What Jesus says about fasting
Some Christians say that fasting is not necessary since Jesus Christ has finished the work. But Jesus himself spoke about the necessity of fasting in this dispensation.
Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:14-17)
The disciples did not need to fast while Jesus was with them but after Jesus left, they would feel his absence and realise that in order to create that manifest presence without Jesus Christ being physically there, they would need to fast. Anytime we notice that the manifest presence of God is dwindling in our lives, it is time to embark on a fast.Fasting is required to experience the manifest presence of God in our lives. -HT @PastorPoju (Paraphrased) Click To Tweet
In Matthew 9:17, Jesus explains further by drawing an analogy from wine and wineskins. Wineskins were used to keep wine back then and the material they are made from is almost like leather. When you pour wine into a wineskin, the wineskin takes the shape of the wine.
When you pour the wine out, the wineskin remains in the shape of the wine that was there. Now, when you pour new wine into it, the wine begins to ferment and the material will burst. So you have got to work on the wineskin first before you pour new wine in.
The wineskin here can be likened to your mindset. You had a mindset when you experienced a move of God the last time. That formed you in a particular way. The wineskin needs to be expanded and made flexible to accommodate the new move of God. During a fast, God is working on you to bring you into a place such that when He brings in the new experiences, it won’t be with the old mindset which would cause you to be destroyed.
Everyone desires new things, new doors and new experiences. We don’t want to keep recycling the old thing. But that old cycle will continue because the container is now rigid and fixed.
The outpouring of the Spirit
In Acts 2:15-17 we see the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which is a type of pouring in new wine. Before the disciples received the Holy Spirit, they were fasting and praying. When Jesus told them to tarry in Jerusalem, he was telling them to stay there, fasting and praying. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit brought about the experience described in Joel 2:28.
And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.
In the same way, a consecrated fast will bring you to a place of communion with God where you begin to prophesy and speak forth those things that will be realised in your life. The Holy Spirit starts revealing things to you and you start saying what He reveals. When you say it without any shadow of doubt, you shall have whatsoever you say. (Mark 11:23-24).
Events begin to unfold after we have spoken by the Spirit of God. In Deuteronomy 18:22, the Bible says that “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” This means that when you speak what God has revealed to you, it must come to pass. Events follow words; you speak and God makes things happen.When you speak what God has spoken to you, it must come to pass. Events begin to unfold after we have spoken by the Spirit of God. This is not positive affirmations; it is speaking what God has revealed to you. - HT @PastorPoju Click To Tweet
Speaking presumptuously is speaking from your mind. In that case, God has not spoken to you. In order to guarantee that what you say will happen, you must hear the Holy Spirit tell you. This is deeper than just positive affirmations; it is what the Holy Spirit has revealed to you that you are now saying out of your mouth. This outpouring of the Spirit comes through prayer and fasting. You need to fast and pray for the Holy Spirit to have deep conversations with you and reveal the mind of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:12-13)
As the Holy Spirit reveals things to you, you speak in order to have those manifestations. If you say what you have heard it must come to pass. The reason we have not yet experienced some manifestations is that we have not heard what God is saying about it. And that is because our flesh is interfering with it.
For example, let’s look at the woman with the issue of blood. When she touched Jesus’ garment for her healing, nobody had ever done that before; so she must have heard something. We also have the example of Peter who had toiled all night and caught nothing. But when he let down his net in obedience to the word of Jesus, he had a net breaking catch. If we hear what God has to say about an issue, the power of God gets released for that thing. [Click to tweet]
There is a kind of faith that is only released through prayer and fasting because then, you can hear God at certain depths. The power of prayer and fasting is not merely in the absence of food; the power is in hearing God at certain levels. But we will not be able to hear God at those levels if there is no praying and fasting.There is a kind of faith that is only released through prayer and fasting because then, you can hear God at certain depths. - HT @PastorPoju Click To Tweet
To You I will cry, O Lord my Rock:
Do not be silent to me,
Lest, if You are silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the pit. (Psalm 28:1)
The Psalmist cried to God but he recognised that the power is not in the cry; the power is in God speaking to him. Those that go down to the pit are those that haven’t heard from God.
Fasting is not just about abstaining from food while watching your countdown timer and opening the fridge in anticipation of breaking your fast, so that you can then expect God to do what you asked because you had fasted. The power is not in abstinence from food. If abstinence from food constituted power, then John’s disciples and the Pharisees would have had power. Abstaining from food is more like a means to an end; you fast so that you can come into communion with the Spirit of God and hear God at certain levels which would be otherwise inaccessible.Fasting is not just about abstaining from food. The purpose of fasting is to bring us into a place of communion with the Spirit of God so that we can hear God at certain levels. Click To Tweet
Fasting gives spiritual wings to our faith. In teaching her child about faith, a woman described faith as having two wings. Prayer is one wing of faith, fasting is the second. If you’re praying without fasting, it’s like trying to fly with one wing. You know that you have some power but you simply can’t take off.
A lesson from the Israelites
Fasting is a time when you esteem the word of God more than necessary food. You place a priority on spiritual nourishment and the things that God is revealing to you. (Job 23:12) This is why Moses succeeded in the wilderness while the children of Israel failed. Moses succeeded because he consecrated a fast. Where the children of Israel failed was in their inability to consecrate a fast. So God had no opportunity to take that out the impurities lodged on their inside — inferiority complex, idolatry and all the other baggage they were carrying with them from Egypt.
And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)
This was the lesson of the wilderness — that man doesn’t live by bread only.
The reason the Israelites could not enter into God’s rest was unbelief. (Hebrews 3:7-9, Hebrews 4:1-6) And this kind of unbelief cannot leave except by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:19-21). God would have dealt with that unbelief when they were eating manna but the children of Israel did not allow that to happen. As soon as He allowed them to hunger, they rebelled. So they could not commune with God to the point of transiting from unbelief to full persuasion. (Numbers 11:1-19, Numbers 11:31-32) They were eating physical food but their soul was starving. (Psalm 106:15-16)
The joy of a fast is that you are having communion with the Holy Ghost at unprecedented levels. You are feeding on the wisdom of God. [Click to tweet]
My son, eat honey because it is good,
And the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste;
So shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul;
If you have found it, there is a prospect,
And your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 24:13-14)
The way you enter into the finished work of God is that you eliminate unbelief. This is the purpose of fasting. (Hebrews 4). The purpose of a fast is not to say, “God, reward me for not eating.”
For practical instructions on how to fast, download the original message at elibrary.insightsforliving.org.