How To Fast

Posted in Fasting, Holy Spirit, New Year, Prayer by PCraig on December 18, 2013

Here’s some thoughts I’ve gleaned from the writings of Bill Bright on the topic of fasting as we get ready to begin the NEW YEAR with another time of fasting & prayer.

How to Begin Your Fast

 How you begin and conduct your fast will largely determine your success. By following these seven basic steps to fasting, you will make your time with the Lord more meaningful and spiritually rewarding.

STEP 1: Set Your Objective

Why are you fasting? Is it for spiritual renewal, for guidance, for healing, for the resolution of problems, for special grace to handle a difficult situation? Ask the Holy Spirit to clarify His leading and objectives for your prayer fast. This will enable you to pray more specifically and strategically.

Through fasting and prayer we humble ourselves before God so the Holy Spirit will stir our souls, awaken our churches, and heal our land according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. Make this a priority in your fasting.

STEP 2: Make Your Commitment

Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake. Jesus implied that all of His followers should fast (Matthew 6:16-18; 9:14,15) For Him it was a matter of when believers would fast, not if they would do it. Before you fast, decide how long and what type of fast you will undertake.  I am challenging those who can to a 21 day fast.  There are many resources for a Daniel type of fast for 21 days.  Here’s some other things you could fast:  TV, Facebook or social media, shopping, or other potentially controlling things for 21 days (for some, these could be more difficult than food).

Making these commitments ahead of time will help you sustain your fast when physical temptations and life’s pressures tempt you to abandon it.

STEP 3: Prepare Yourself Spiritually

The very foundation of fasting and prayer is repentance. Unconfessed sin will hinder your prayers. Here are several things you can do to prepare your heart:

Ask God to help you 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 sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit (Galatians 5:16,17).

STEP 4: Prepare Yourself Physically

Fasting requires reasonable precautions. Consult your physician first, especially if you take prescription medication or have a chronic ailment. Some persons should never fast without professional supervision.

The first two or three days are usually the hardest. As you continue to fast, you will likely experience a sense of well-being both physically and spiritually. However, should you feel hunger pains, increase your liquid intake.

STEP 5: Put Yourself on a Schedule

For maximum spiritual benefit, set aside ample time to be alone with the Lord. Listen for His leading. The more time you spend with Him, the more meaningful your fast will be.

When possible, begin and end each day on your knees with your spouse for a brief time of praise and thanksgiving to God. Longer periods of time with our Lord in prayer and study of His Word are often better spent alone.

A dietary routine is vital as well. Dr. Julio C. Ruibal – a nutritionist, pastor, and specialist in fasting and prayer – suggests a daily schedule and list of juices you may find useful and satisfying. Modify this schedule and the drinks you take to suit your circumstances and tastes.

When your designated time for fasting is finished, you will begin to eat again. But how you break your fast is extremely important for your physical and spiritual well-being.

STEP 6: End Your Fast Gradually

Begin eating gradually. Do not eat solid foods immediately after your fast. Suddenly reintroducing solid food to your stomach and digestive tract will likely have negative, even dangerous, consequences. Try several smaller meals or snacks each day. If you end your fast gradually, the beneficial physical and spiritual effects will result in continued good health.

STEP 7: Expect Results

If you sincerely humble yourself before the Lord, repent, pray, and seek God’s face; if you consistently meditate on His Word, you will experience a heightened awareness of His presence (John 14:21). The Lord will give you fresh, new spiritual insights. Your confidence and faith in God will be strengthened. You will feel mentally, spiritually, and physically refreshed. You will see answers to your prayers.

A single fast, however, is not a spiritual cure-all. Just as we need fresh infillings of the Holy Spirit daily, we also need new times of fasting before God. A 24-hour fast each week has been greatly rewarding to many Christians.

It takes time to build your spiritual fasting muscles. If you fail to make it through your first fast, do not be discouraged. You may have tried to fast too long the first time out, or your may need to strengthen your understanding and resolve. As soon as possible, undertake another fast until you do succeed. God will honor you for your faithfulness.

I encourage you to join me in fasting and prayer to begin 2014.  May God help us to truly experience revival in our homes, our church, our nation, and throughout the world.

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Next Steps for a New Year

Posted in Change, Choice, Commitments, New Year, One Year Bible, Personal Growth by PCraig on December 12, 2013

When trying to bring about lasting change in our lives, there has to come a point where we take the next step.  In other words, good intentions are not enough.  “I intend to be a better husband in the New Year” or “I want to grow in my faith in 2014” or “I need to get a handle on my finances this next year.”  Each of these are wonderful statements, but it takes more than talk to bring about change.

Often what is missing is a clear next step that will intentionally head us toward the desired destination.  Here at Crossroads we have some Next Steps that we’ve designed for the New Year to lead people in desired directions.  Here’s the list so far:

  • Starting Point – a class for new believers of basic principles of faith
  • 21 Days of Fasting – starts Jan 1 to engage with God through sacrifice
  • Daily Bible Reading – plans available online
  • Night of Prayer – Jan 8 join together for an hour of prayer for 2014
  • Ignite Your Spiritual Potential – class to discover your spiritual gifts
  • Financial Peace University – Learn to better manage your finances
  • GriefShare – Recovery & healing from loss
  • DivorceCare – Recovery & healing from divorce or separation
  • Matthew – a class to study this book of the Bible
  • How to Study the Bible – a class to better understand the Bible
  • LifeGroup – join a small group in 2014

As you can see, we have quite a few next steps available to anyone who wants to really move forward in faith.  Look over the list.  Decide what your next step(s) should be.  Then, get signed up and committed to do it!

I love progress, and so I hope you will take advantage of at least one of these Next Steps in the New Year.

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A Season Of Expectancy

Posted in Attitude, Expectations, holiday, Perspective, Seasons by PCraig on December 5, 2013

I remember being a kid and being so excited about the Christmas season.  It seemed like it took forever between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  My heart was full of expectancy about everything that surrounded the holidays.  I loved the lights, decorations, songs, parties and of course the gifts.  Each year I looked forward to all the potential the season had to offer.

Something happens as we get older.  We become the one to fix the lights when they don’t work.  We have to put up the decorations, plan the parties and pay for the gifts.  All of this can taint the season.  If we’re not careful, we can transform from the expectant child to the Grinch.

This is not only a problem with Christmas; it’s a problem in marriages.  Two people walk down an aisle to go live life in love, only to discover that there are pressures they never planned to experience.  They didn’t anticipate one of them losing their job, or having a special needs child, or finding themselves attracted to someone else at work.  When burdens come, it’s all too common for us to begin dreading the very thing we once anticipated.

My challenge to us all this season is to take joy in this time of year.  The story is about a Savior who left His throne to be born in a manger, live and teach, then die a sacrificial death for our sins.  Be careful what comes out of your mouth.  Instead of dreading the holidays, your marriage, your job, your family, why not expect the best?  Let a spirit of expectancy build in your heart and find it’s way into your mind and mouth.  Changing how you view things can go a long way toward how you experience them.

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