Prayer and Fasting

November 11, 2001 AM
Pastor Chris Abernathy
Columbus, Georgia

If you would, turn in your Bibles with me first to the book of Joel chapter two. Joel chapter two. And when you reach the book of Joel chapter two, just signify by saying, "Amen." The book of Joel, the prophet Joel, the messenger Joel chapter two. Praise the Lord. Amen? In Joel chapter two we will begin with verse twelve. It says,

12. Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:

13. And rend your heart...

In other words, tear your heart. Don't worry about your garment, but tear your heart.

13. ...and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

14. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?

15. Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:

16. Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.

17. Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?

18. Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.

Let us pray.

Most holy and gracious heavenly Father, we sanctify ourselves in Your sight today. Father, give us ears to hear and eyes to see, that we may receive Your Word. And Father, let it go forth boldly with love and assurance, that the Lord God Almighty is for us, and He's more than the world against us.

Dear Lord, hide Your son behind the cross, that Your people would see You and not me. And let me decrease, Holy Spirit, that You might increase. And anoint me today that I would be a vessel unto honor, worthy to minister Your Word. In Jesus' holy and blessed Name, amen.

In verse fifteen he said,

15. Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:

The prophet Joel voiced God's call to consecrate a fast, to set aside a fast. His people in that land have been devastated because of their disobedience. God's promise to those who will come to Him with prayer and with fasting, with broken-ness and repentance of heart was found in verse twenty-five. He said,

25. And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.

You see, in the land today God is calling for a fast. The Bible says in Second Chronicles twenty, twenty, "Believe in the Lord your God; so shall you be established. Believe in His prophets, and so shall ye prosper."

Believe me as a messenger of God. God is calling for a fast among the body of Christ. God is looking to restore what has been taken from you. Glory to God. He said the land was devastated. There was a famine that was going on.

When we look at the people of God, we have been believing for miracles and signs and wonders. And if we take a survey, there's a famine that's going on.

He told them, he said, "Don't worry about your outer garments." He said, "Don't worry about the outer garments." He said, "But tear your hearts in half, and then I will restore the devastation that has come to your land."

Saints of God, listen today. There's no problem that cannot be stopped with prayer and fasting. When I set myself aside to seek the Lord, when I come into His Presence with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise, when I lay down who I think I am... Oh, you don't hear me today. He said if you need restoration, it's on the way.

Fasting is a subject in the body of Christ of great importance. Yes, singing is important. Yes, yes, hearing the Word is important. But when I set aside that time to afflict my soul, when I give up what my body craves (oh, you don't hear me today), my Father that seeth in secret is going to reward me openly. Oh, some of you don't know what I'm talking about today.

Every now and then I got to go on a fast. Every now and then I got to get my flesh under.

The disciples were in a situation where there was a young person with a deaf and dumb spirit. And they said every time they turned around the devil was tormenting this child. So they brought the child to the disciples. And the disciples began to do what they knew to do. But the spirit would not move.

But then they brought the child to Jesus. And Jesus rebuked the spirit, and the spirit came out of the boy. And the disciples asked Jesus later, "Why could we not do this thing?"

And Jesus answered, "Because of your unbelief." And then He went on to say, "This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting." What do you mean, Jesus? The demon only comes out? No. Your unbelief that all things are possible with God is going to come out of you.

Prayer and fasting is one of the keys to our success. When I don't know what to do, He knows what to do. When I set myself aside to come at His feet, to get that good part like Mary did, He's going to begin to minister to my needs.

If you would, turn with me in your Bibles to the book of Isaiah chapter fifty-eight. When we look at Isaiah chapter fifty-eight, it links fasting to the observation of the Sabbath day, the day of rest that was established in the Old Testament people. Israel's disrespect for and the desecration of the Sabbath resulted in divine discipline.

People who come before God in prayer and fasting develop a renewed appreciation for the things of God. God was saying that the promise He made to Jacob could only be enjoyed to the extent that they returned to the Lord and His ordinances in their hearts.

Saints of God, God made you some promises. But they will come to pass only to the extent that I'm willing to submit myself unto His Word and to obedience of everything He said.

In the book of Isaiah chapter fifty-eight and verse eight through fourteen. We're going to read that verse, and then we're going to back through it. He said,

8. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.

9. Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;

10. And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:

Glory be to God today. Listen in verse eleven.

11. And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

12. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

13. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

14. Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

We find God's promised benefits for those who enter this discipline with a serious heart and a spiritual focus. He said, "Then," in verse eight, "Your light shall break forth like the morning." In other words, "I'm going to give you insight and understanding.

When we look at that word "light" in the Hebrew (glory to God), it means "understanding." As we engage in prayer and fasting, God will give us the insight to solve problems (glory to God) and to behave with discretion.

You got a problem in your life and you need and answer? God will give you the understanding with prayer and fasting. Revelation and illumination will go off on the inside of you. You don't have to search out no prophet. Oh, you don't hear me. Because He'll speak directly to your spirit man and give you just what you need when you need it. Glory to God.

He said, "Then your light shall break forth like the morning." There shall also be a remarkable, positive change in our physical well-being. He said, "And thine health shall spring forth speedily." You need a healing in your body? You need to fast a little while. I know what the doctors told you, but the real Doctor told me that I need to fast a little while. I need to afflict myself a little bit longer.

He said, "Not only will I heal you, but I'll heal you quick, fast, and in a hurry." Your health is connected to your prayer and fasting life. The more I pray and fast, the more healthy I will be, not only in my spiritual being, but in my physical being. You got an ailment? You need to fast it out. In the Name of Jesus. Speedy recovery comes from obedience to the word of God.

He went on to say, "And thy righteousness shall go before thee." Your righteousness shall go before you. You'll begin to have a deeper sense of what is right. You see, everybody knows good from evil. When you get a certain age (glory to God), I don't care if you're saved or not saved, you have a sense of what's good and what's evil.

But He says when I fast, I'm going to have a deeper sense of what's right in the eyes of God. Let me tell you something. People like Indians... Not all Indians, so don't take what I say out of context.

But what they have a lot of times is what's called a shaman, that lives in the village. And this is supposed to be a spiritual person. When they have, you know, an ailment with their body or they need to know a history of what was going on in that particular tribe, they would go to the shaman because he's supposed to be all-knowing.

But the reason why (glory to God) he has the spirituality that he has is because he fasts. And when they fast, they begin to see into the spirit realm. Oh, you don't hear me. But the problem is, it's the wrong spirit.

You want to see in the Spirit? Start fasting. Starts setting yourself aside. You won't see nothing if you don't consecrate a fast. You'll always be in the dark about everything. People will know more about you than you know about yourself.

It cleanses out the body. Even the world knows that. Doctors prescribe it. They tell you that you need to fast for a while to get all the toxins and the impurities out of your body. But when I fast unto the Lord, He's going to get all the toxins and the impurities out of my spirit man.

Go on a fast and see what happens. Your healing shall spring forth speedily. Your righteousness shall go before you. And then it went on to say the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. They'll know that you've been in the Presence of the Lord.

When Moses went up into the mountain to spend time with the Lord, I'm sure he was in a place of fasting, because the Lord was his food. But when he came down from the mountain, the Bible said that his face was glowing. The Glory of God was on his face. And they knew that he had been in the Presence of the Lord.

Let me tell you something. If I fast and pray long enough, the Glory of God is going to be on my face. I don't have to tell nobody I'm fasting. They'll see it for themselves. Because the Glory of the Lord will shine on my face. His majestic Presence will follow after us.

How important is that? It's very important. Because when God's Presence is with you, He will protect you and He will provide for you. Whatever you need, if God is with you, you don't have to worry about it.

Saints of God, it's time to fast.

In verse nine it said, "Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer." We don't pray to God (listen) to get His attention. We pray to the Father because... Let me give you a revelation. We already have His attention. He said, "My eyes are open and My ears are tense." You already have His attention. Don't pray to get His attention. You already have it. He just wants you to talk to Him for a little while.

Setting aside time to pray and fast, it'll bring us face to face with God, with whatever has crept into our lives and is hindering our relationship with Him.

In Psalm sixty-six and verse eighteen, the psalmist said,

18. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

When I fast, it's going to get the sin out of my life. Jeremiah thirty-three, verse three, my wife's favorite Scripture, He said, "Call upon Me and I'll answer thee and show thee..." He didn't only say He would answer you.

He's going to open up your eyes that you could see something. He said, "I'll show you great and mighty things that thou knowest not." He's going to upon up the treasures of darkness for you. He's going to let you see into the realm of obscurity.

Saints, I'm not just talking to be talking. I'm trying to teach you something. Fasting, prayer and fasting is what we need. In verse ten,

10. ...thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:

I'm going to get a release from spiritual oppression. If I begin to fast, that spirit of oppression that's even over a city is going to have to lift up off of me. Oh, you don't hear me, because you ain't never been oppressed before. When I carry and I allow a spirit of oppression in my life, it's going to carry it's cousin, depression.

Oppression is going to lift off of me. It's going to help me to pinpoint the problem. It's going to help me... Let me say that again. Pinpoint the problem. And not only will I pinpoint the problem, but it's going to give me the solution to the problem.

Many of us are able to pinpoint the problem, but we don't know how to get a solution to the problem. I remember when I was a manager. My manager over me, he told me to read a book called "The One-Minute Manager."

Because too many times we can pinpoint the problem, but God already gave us the solution. The Bible says that a wise man is able to draw it out of the well. What well? The well of my spirit. He has already placed an answer in your spirit. But through prayer and fasting you'll draw it out.

In verse eleven,

11. And the LORD shall guide thee continually...

Moment by moment, guidance from the Lord. Every step I take, every step I make, I'm guided by Him. The steps of a good man are what? Ordered by the Lord. I don't have to worry about where I am, because I know that I'm in the right place.

I don't care what my mind is saying. I don't care what my intellect (glory to God) is saying. I know where I am. I'm there because He guided me there. I'm always in the right place at the right time. He guides me continually. My sensitivity to His divine counsel has been heightened. I have an increased awareness of His Presence.

Sometimes saints of God can say, you know, "Oh, I feel the Presence of God." And then you look at the other people, and they're sitting there like they don't feel nothing. Their sensitivity is not there. Why? Because that flesh is too high. Get that flesh under, and you'll feel what I feel.

God will satisfy your soul in drought. He's going to begin to take care of those places that were scorched by the trials of life, by your situations and circumstances. We'll be able to find fulfillment in unlikely places, under unlikely circumstances, and get this: at very unlikely times.

All of this from prayer and fasting. It's amazing to me that He gives us such simple things to do, but because we live in a physical world, they're so hard to do.

One of my professors at school said, "You know, people that have a weight problem, why is there a weight problem?"

And I sat back and I said, "I want to know what you got to say, because you're all skinny."

He said, "The solution is, stop eating. Take in less calories than what you spend out." So simple logic, but so hard to do. All of these fad diets, all of these pills taking, only to put the weight back on after we've lost it. The remedy is to stop eating so much.

Simple principles that He's given to us, even in giving. Give and it shall be given. How simple is that? But it's the hardest thing to do. Simple things. But prayer and fasting will bring me under subjection. And when this flesh wants to get out of line, I can hit it and say, "You better get back in the Name of Jesus."

He'll satisfy our souls in drought. We're almost finished. Can you stay with me a little while longer? He said He will make fat our bones. He will give us strength to do more and more of His work. The Bible says the liberal soul shall be made fat.

Why do we need all of this Word? So we can do His Word. He said to drink milk when you first start out. But then after a while I got to get off the milk, because I need the protein of the meat to get the strength that I need.

Why do I need strength? Because I got work to do. I don't need to sit on the bench and just get fatter and fatter. I need to take what I've learned and apply it and pass it on to somebody else instead of keeping it all to myself. I can quote Genesis to Revelation, but I don't know how to lead you to Christ.

Prayer and fasting. Psalm one and verse three says we'll be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. Why? Because He said, "You shall be like a watered garden," fruitfulness through the Holy Spirit that's within us, having ever-sufficient water.

When a garden has a sufficient water supply, it keeps on producing. As I pray and fast, He says on the inside of me is going to be like rivers of living water, and I'm going to be like a tree planted by the rivers of that water, that bringeth forth what? Fruit in it's season. My leaf shall not wither. And whatever I do, whatever I put my hands to (oh, you don't hear me today) is going to prosper. Glory to God.

In verse twelve He said, "Recovering and restoring what has been lost by turning away from God." See, a lot of times we can go on and on and on in our sin. And it seems as though we're still prospering. But there's something being taken away from you.

You see, because we work from the spiritual realm. That's where God works from. You see, in the natural it looks one way, but in the Spirit (glory to God) there's devastation and disaster. Turning away from God, it brings about serious consequences.

He said, "Fret not thyself because of evil doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity." Why? Because they'll what? Soon be cut down.

Come back. Once we come back according to verse fourteen, He said then we shall enjoy the heritage of Jacob.

Saints of God, it's time to fast. It's time to consecrate a fast. Your relationship is not going right? You need to fast. You don't have enough finances? Not only give, but you need to go on a fast.

You need somebody in your house to get saved? You need to fast. Stop talking so much and fast. Stop nagging and badgering and fast. The God that sees in secret will reward you openly. Your boss ain't acting right? You need to go on a fast. He'll turn their hearts for you.

Saints, He said call the congregation. He said the solemn assembly. He said call the elders, the ministers. Rend your hearts. "Don't worry about what you look like, because I'm looking at the inside. I'm not worried about the outside. I'm looking at the inside."

And Joel said then He'll restore what the cankerworm, the palmer worm, the caterpillar... He said that great army, what they've taken from you is going to come back to you.

Come on, give God a handclap of praise today.

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