We are currently going through “Fire & Reign” at Harvey Oaks Baptist Church. Many of us are daily going through the 10-week daily devotional book. It is our prayer and goal that the “fire” of the Holy Spirit will come on us so that Jesus will “reign” in all that we do and say as God’s people.
A crucial element during “Fire & Reign” is the day of fasting on the first Tuesday of each month. For some, fasting for the day or part of the day was a brand new experience. Some could not fast from food because of health concerns. So they fasted from TV or spent more time in prayer.
Our second day of fasting will be May 2nd. It will be another opportunity to seek and long for more of God in our lives. I was at a pastor’s one-day retreat last week. One of the speakers was John Wesley Adams, an expert on the subject of revival. He said that American Christians are weak in the area of fasting. We simply do not possess the desire or discipline to fast. Researcher George Barna confirms that followers of Jesus in our country refuse to make the tough choices needed to become more like Jesus. In his latest report, he made the following observations…
“Americans are willing to expend some energy in religious activities such as attending church and reading the Bible, and they are willing to throw some money in the offering basket. Because of such activities, they convince themselves that they are people of genuine faith. But when it comes time to truly establishing their priorities and making a tangible commitment to knowing and loving God, and to allowing Him to change their character and lifestyle, most people stop short. We want to be ‘spiritual’ and we want to have God’s favor, but we’re not sure we want Him taking control of our lives and messing with the image and outcomes we’ve worked so hard to produce" (www.barna.org).
Barna’s last statement is a tough one. Yet, if he is right, then we in the church are more concerned about maintaining our own image rather than allowing the power of the Holy Spirit transform us into the image of Jesus. If God is going to change our “character and lifestyle”, then biblical and God-honoring fasting will play a part.
That takes us back to our day of fasting on the first Tuesday of each month. Why should we participate? Besides the fact that Jesus assumed we would fast (see Matthew 6.16), fasting is a discipline that will help place God in his rightful place in our lives, in the church and in the world. John Piper, in his book A Hunger for God, writes…
“The supremacy of God in all things is the great reward we long for in fasting. His supremacy in our affections and in all our life-choices. His supremacy in the salvation of the lost. His supremacy in the establishing of righteousness and justice. And his supremacy for the joy of all peoples in the evangelization of the world” (pp. 78, 79).
Longing for the Supremacy of God