Friday, January 6, 2012

Continuing On

I was asked by Matt Friedman in a live interview on American Family Radio this past Friday, if our focus on fasting and prayer would continue in the church now that the Awaken US 40 day fast has ended on December 31st. I shared with him on the air that fasting and prayer should be a never ending emphasis for God’s people and that the Bible strongly encourages it. Jesus spoke directly about prayer and fasting in Matthew 6. In verses 5-7 he refers to “when you pray,” and not “if you pray.” In verses 16 and 17 he says, “when you fast,” and not “if you fast.” Jesus fasted and prayed regularly and spoke of fasting as something that was to be done privately and regularly before God.

Mr. Friedman asked if there were spiritual benefits to fasting and does fasting get God’s attention? My answer was I do believe that fasting and prayer will draw you closer to God and will prepare your spirit to be more active against the intense spiritual warfare that we face.

Fasting is a strong form of “denial of self.” which can produce humility in us and make us more susceptible to obeying God’s will in our lives. In Luke 9:23-27 Jesus was predicting his own suffering and death, and then taught that all who follow him must experience the death of our self life. His death was the ultimate humiliation. He chose to give up his own life. We choose our own self denial and fasting is certainly an expression of that. So, do we as individuals and as a church body maintain this pattern of prayer and fasting throughout 2012? If we are to continue our focus on pursuing God for revival in the church and awakening in our land, then we must continue to seek Him with fastings and prayer.

The prophet Joel prophesied to the people of Judah and Jerusalem in the midst of a catastrophe that threatened their very existence. God has sent a locust plague to punish them for their failure to live in a right relationship with Him. The God of judgment was also a God of compassion and was ready to restore them if they would repent and return back to Him. It is God’s nature to forgive those who repent rather than to judge them; to restore rather than destroy. Joel called for the people to come to God with weeping, and fasting, and mourning, and return to the Lord. He then prophesied that Israel’s future would be filled with restoration and hope.

The implication is that the people must repent and throw themselves on the mercy of a compassionate God. Beloved, its all about God’s mercy! And we need God’s mercy upon our land. We will continue to seek His face in 2012! Happy New Year!

- Pastor Virgil Amundson