Good morning all and welcome to the house of the Lord!
As we all are aware, we are going through the commitment of fasting and corporate praying for 21 days, which ends next week. Fasting is not about losing, but gaining. We are not going to lose our physical muscles, in-fact we are building our spiritual muscles. We need to fast and pray until there is a revival. God is calling us to make an impact not only in our community, but also in our nation, and remember folks, God is always at work. People in India are panicking these days due to demonetization, but God says, "Behold, I will not leave you nor forsake you!"
Friends, there is a big question in most of our minds. If we fast and pray, what should we expect and what will we receive? What are we really going to see in the times of darkness? Today we will be learning about six things which talk about our expectations from God when we fast and pray.
1. We can expect direction of God.
“And the children of Israel came near against the children of Benjamin the second day. And Benjamin went forth against them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed down to the ground of the children of Israel again eighteen thousand men; all these drew the sword. Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto Beth-el, and wept, and sat there before Jehovah, and fasted that day until even; and they offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings before Jehovah. And the children of Israel asked of Jehovah (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, and Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days), saying, Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease? And Jehovah said, Go up; for to-morrow I will deliver him into thy hand.” - Judges 20:24-28
If you want to know the will of God in your life, fast and pray. You need to overcome.
“And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of Jehovah their God a fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped Jehovah their God." Nehemiah 9:2-3
"Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not. Moreover thou gavest them kingdoms and peoples, which thou didst allot after their portions: so they possessed the land of Sihon, even the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan.” - Nehemiah 9:21-22
When we pray and fast, God will reveal his will and He will direct us into the path which is right in the sight of Lord, even if the path is narrow.
2. We can expect that God will bless our future.
“And the people of Nineveh believed God; and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. And the tidings reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.” Jonah 3:5-6
When the king of Nineveh saw this, he asked entire nation to pray and fast together.
“Be not deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning.” - James 1:16-17
The word of God tells us that God has always kept one option open for us, that's is repentance. And if we turn back to God from other things which holds us back, God will shower his blessings on us because our God is a loving God.
“At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up and to break down and to destroy it; if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if they do that which is evil in my sight, that they obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.” Jeremiah 18:7-10
If you repent, he is a loving God, if you rebel He is a consuming fire. No matter how many mistakes you have made in the past, if you repent, God will forgive because our God is a forgiving God and He loves us.
3. We can expect our prayers will become powerful.
“Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find your own pleasure, and exact all your labors. Behold, ye fast for strife and contention, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye fast not this day so as to make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I have chosen? the day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a rush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to Jehovah?" - Isaiah 58:3-5
"Then shalt thou call, and Jehovah will answer; thou shalt cry, and he will say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking wickedly;” - Isaiah 58:9
Earnest prayer is not irritating to God, it pleases God. Have you prayed earnestly to God?
“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” - Jeremiah 29:13
A fast is a day to afflict the soul; if it does not express true sorrow for sin, and does not promote the putting away of sin, it is not a fast. To be liberal and merciful is more acceptable to God than mere fasting, which, without them, is vain and hypocritical. Many who seem humble in God's house, are hard at home, and harass their families. But no man's faith justifies, which does not work by love. Yet persons, families, neighbourhoods, churches, or nations, show repentance and sorrow for sin, by keeping a fast sincerely, and, from right motives, repenting, and doing good works. The heavy yoke of sin and oppression must be removed. As sin and sorrow dry the bones and weaken the strongest human constitution; so the duties of kindness and charity strengthen and refresh both body and mind. Those who do justly and love mercy, shall have the comfort, even in this world. Good works will bring the blessing of God, provided they are done from love to God and man, and wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit.
All we need is earnestly praying and open our hearts to seek repentance and to seek refuge in Him.
4. We can believe in power of God that all the bondages will be broken.
There are so many bondages that can take over our lives. We can become slaves to so many bondages. We can become to slave our cars, jobs etc. we get upset and very angry, and we get upset when someone scratches on your car, but we don't get upset if there is a scratch in our lives. We are slave to our possessions such as TV, mobiles etc. some of us are slaves to lust, some are enslaved to smoking, sex, video games, gambling, black magic, bitterness etc. All need to be broken in the name of Jesus.
“If therefore the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” - John 8:36
“Is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” - Isaiah 58:6
Anointing will break every yolk, because nothing is difficult for God. Bondages will be broken, God will take care.
Christ spoke of spiritual liberty; but carnal hearts feel no other grievances than those that molest the body, and distress their worldly affairs. Talk to them of their liberty and property, tell them of waste committed upon their lands, or damage done to their houses, and they understand you very well; but speak of the bondage of sin, captivity to Satan, and liberty by Christ; tell of wrong done to their precious souls, and the hazard of their eternal welfare, then you bring strange things to their ears. Jesus plainly reminded them, that the man who practiced any sin, was, in fact, a slave to that sin, which was the case with most of them. Christ in the gospel offers us freedom, he has power to do this, and those whom Christ makes free are really so. But often we see persons disputing about liberty of every kind, while they are slaves to some sinful lust.
5. We can expect divine protection from God.
In the book of Esther we see a perfect example of divine protection from God.
“Then Esther bade them return answer unto Mordecai, Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast in like manner; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.” - Esther 4:15-17
We are prone to shrink from services that are attended with peril or loss. But when the cause of Christ and his people demand it, we must take up our cross, and follow him. When Christians are disposed to consult their own ease or safety, rather than the public good, they should be blamed. The law was express, all knew it. It is not thus in the court of the King of kings: to the footstool of his throne of grace we may always come boldly, and may be sure of an answer of peace to the prayer of faith. We are welcome, even into the holiest, through the blood of Jesus. Providence so ordered it, that, just then, the king's affections had cooled toward Esther; her faith and courage thereby were the more tried; and God's goodness in the favor she now found with the king, thereby shone the brighter. Haman no doubt did what he could to set the king against her. Mordecai suggests, that it was a cause which, one way or other, would certainly be carried, and which therefore she might safely venture in. This was the language of strong faith, which staggered not at the promise when the danger was most threatening, but against hope believed in hope. He that by sinful devices will save his life, and will not trust God with it in the way of duty, shall lose it in the way of sin. Divine Providence had regard to this matter, in bringing Esther to be queen. Therefore thou art bound in gratitude to do this service for God and his church, else thou dost not answer the end of thy being raised up. There is wise counsel and design in all the providences of God, which will prove that they are all intended for the good of the church. We should, every one, consider for what end God has put us in the place where we are, and study to answer that end: and take care that we do not let it slip. Having solemnly commended our souls and our cause to God, we may venture upon his service. All dangers are trifling compared with the danger of losing our souls. But the trembling sinner is often as much afraid of casting himself, without reserve, upon the Lord's free mercy, as Esther was of coming before the king. Let him venture, as she did, with earnest prayer and supplication, and he shall fare as well and better than she did. The cause of God must prevail: we are safe in being united to it.
6. We can expect that our relationship with God will be an intimate relationship.
84 year old Anna, she fasted and prayed and she prayed daily without failing to do so. There was much evil then in the church, yet God left not himself without witness. Anna always dwelt in, or at least attended at, the temple. She was always in a praying spirit; gave herself to prayer, and in all things she served God. Those to whom Christ is made known, have great reason to thank the Lord. She taught others concerning him.
“And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher (she was of a great age, having lived with a husband seven years from her virginity, and she had been a widow even unto fourscore and four years), who departed not from the temple, worshipping with fastings and supplications night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks unto God, and spake of him to all them that were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” - Luke 2:36-38
In the book of Acts, early churches fasted and prayed. Out fasting and prayer will not go in vain. We will receive directions from God.
So friends, to summarize, six things that we can expect when we fast and pray are:
We can expect direction of God.
We can expect that God will bless our future.
We can expect our prayers will become powerful.
We can expect that power of God can break all the bondages.
We can expect divine protection from God.
We can expect that our relationship with God will be an intimate relationship.
In this day we have a great need of His power in our lives, in our church, in our families, in our community and in our Nation. Do you feel dry, spiritually? Powerless against the world and the enemy? In need of renewal? Do you feel you are slave to something? Trust me, you will be filled and renewed again, all you need to do is fast and earnestly pray to God. Let God take over you and help you walk the path God wants you to walk.
We hope you are encouraged by today's word of God. We look forward seeing you next Sunday. God Bless!