Tag Archives: fasting

Fighting The Flesh

In the mid 1990’s, DC Talk had a song called “What if I Stumble”. At the beginning, they read a quote from Brennan Manning’s “Ragamuffin Gospel” that said, “The greatest single cause for atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” That quote has always spoken to me and has challenged me.

When we get close to Easter, the story of Peter denying Jesus three times usually gets brought up at some point. We give him a hard time because he denied Jesus with his lips, but we often don’t think twice about things we do that deny Jesus with our life. One of my favorite quotes has been, “Preach at all times, and use words when necessary.” It’s a challenge for me to try to live a life that points others to Jesus. The problem is that in our flesh, it’s impossible. There is a constant struggle in each one of us between our flesh and God’s spirit living in us.

Paul perfectly described our feelings in this struggle in Romans 7:24 when he said, “Oh what a miserable person I am!” (GNT) He went on about the struggle, and how to win it, in Romans 8. Verse 12 says, “Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.” To win the battle more times than not, we have to learn to repeatedly tell our flesh a resounding, “No!” We are not obligated, as Paul said, to obey the flesh.

If you struggle telling your flesh, “No,” you’re not alone. It’s something we all struggle with. We can get better at it by learning to deny our flesh through fasting and prayer. We can do it by reading God’s Word instead of something else. If we want our lifestyle to match the words that come out of our mouth, it begins by listening to God’s Spirit within us and being led by Him. Jesus forgave and used Peter despite his vocal denial. God can forgive and use us too. Winning this battle within us and living a lifestyle that preaches God’s Word starts with one “No” to the flesh. Thanks to God who gives us that power by living in us.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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The Key To More Power


If spending quality time with God is the way to having a quality spiritual life, then fasting is the key to having a more powerful spiritual life. Giving up our time shows God we are making Him a priority. Giving up food shows Him that we are willing to sacrifice our physical comfort for spiritual gain. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that I’m afraid too few Christians engage in. Either we don’t see the purpose or we don’t see the value, so we don’t do it. When we skip fasting as a spiritual discipline, we miss out on a strength that’s needed to overcome certain things in our live.

In Mark 9, there is a story of a man who asked Jesus to heal his son who was possessed by an evil spirit. In verse 18 he said, “I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” They had spent quality time with Jesus, but hadn’t been fasting and praying so they lacked the power to heal him. Jesus told them in verse 29, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer and fasting.” He inferred that there is more power in fasting.

When you are in need of more power to overcome a temptation, to find the right direction, or to get through a situation, I encourage you to fast and to pray. Your fast should be between you and God. Don’t make an outward show of it or tell people you are doing it so they will feel sorry for you. Jesus said that if you did that, you have your reward. I’d rather have the power of God than the approval of man. It’s our choice when we fast.

In Matthew 6:16, Jesus said, “When (not if) you fast, don’t make it obvious.” He knew that our human nature likes to receive sympathy from others. We like to play to the crowd and to get others to feel sorry for us. Fasting is not about that at all. It’s about showing God you have brought your body under discipline and are denying it what it needs in order to gain what your spirit needs. It shows Him we are willing to feed our spirit instead of our stomach.  

The Bible talks of many different types of fasts and lengths of fasts. How long, what you fast, and why you fast are between you and God. I always feel like the more challenging the fast, the greater reward. If my fast costs me nothing, that’s about what I’ll get in return. The greater the need in my life, the greater the fast I do. Some are mentally challenging, but all are physically challenging. Before I fast, I usually seek God on what He wants me to fast and for how long. Once decided, I pray for the need every time I have a desire for what I’m fasting. I’ve learned that giving up what I want for what He wants changes me for the better every time.

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Religious Christians


Going to church. Praying. Fasting. Reading the Bible. Giving offerings. Community outreach. Teaching a church group. Raising our hands during worship. All of these are things we as Christians do, but is God pleased with you doing them? On the surface, you’re quick reply is, “Of course!” However, there are many times we do these things that God is not pleased with us. Cain gave God an offering, the Pharisee prayed, Saul sacrificed, and many others in the Bible did what God asked.

What makes the difference is our purpose behind these actions. Are we sacrificing our time and energy to do the Christian things because we think it’ll make God happy and He’ll look favorably on us? We live in a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” kind of world. When we let that thinking creep into our Christianity, we end up having the form of Christianity without the power of it. This is not pleasing to God.

In Isaiah 58:3, God lets us know what He thinks about these empty actions. “‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers” (NLT). It all boils down to the motive behind our actions. Are we doing these things out of love for God or to get the praise of others? To me, the answer to that is the difference between being religious and being a Christian.

A Christian seeks to bring glory to God through their actions. A religious person seeks to bring glory to themselves. They may impress others, but they are not impressing God. He looks at our heart and motives. That’s why Able had a better sacrifice and the prayer of the tax collector was heard. Their hearts were right with God. They weren’t seeking to impress others. Rituals aren’t what gets you into Heaven. It’s a repentant heart that seeks to honor God in all they do.

When we have the right motive behind our actions, God says in verse 8, “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.” We can do the right things for the wrong reasons and it will not please God. He doesn’t want us to be religious. He wants us to be like Him. We are changed from the inside out, not the outside in. If you find you’re being religious instead of godly, ask God to give you a change of heart today. You’ll find being a Christian is a lot more fun and rewarding than being religious.

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Three Steps To Spiritual Intimacy

In my own experience, I’ve found it takes three things in order to lose weight: a strong determination, exercise and good food choices. When I’ve had these three things working together, I’ve been able to lose weight. Without them, I tend to gain weight. I’ve also found that spiritual growth and intimacy with God takes the same three elements. When I put my focus and energy into these three areas, I experience intentional growth and closeness with God. When I lose sight of them, I tend to drift along spiritually. 

The first thing I’ve found that I’ve needed is a strong determination. I have to choose to want to grow and to get closer in my relationship with God. The moment you decide to move closer to God, you will begin to see lots of barriers in your way. If you have not fully committed to pushing forward, you will lose sight of the goal and turn back around. Any time I start to feel discouraged and want to quit moving forward, I remember II Chronicles 15:7. It says, “But you must be strong and not be discouraged. The work that you do will be rewarded. (GNB)” Keep your eye on the reward and encourage yourself to keep going.

Next you will need to begin exercising your faith if you want to see improvements. Just like physical exercise, spiritual exercise is not easy. It involves stretching yourself, making commitments that others won’t and cutting out certain areas of your life that waste your time or push you away from God. Fasting is a great example of spiritual exercise. It denies your flesh what it wants and spends time in prayer and reading God’s Word in its place. You choose how long the commitment is and what it involves. I’ve found that having someone to fast with keeps me accountable and improves the results. I Timothy 4:8 says, “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. (NLT)”

The third part is the toughest for me. Making the right choices on my spiritual intake. There are so many things that are bad, but just like regular food, some of my favorites are not good for me. Putting in the wrong types of food are detrimental to the goal. You can take one step forward in exercising and two steps back in spiritual food consumption. What you put into your spirit through TV, movies, books and music matters. Each one either feeds your spirit junk food or proper nutrition. Making the right choices determines the growth and intimacy you will see.

I read a quote from Jeanne Mayo that has had me thinking quite a bit. She said, “Salvation and grace are free, but closeness and intimacy with God are not. They will cost you.” Unfortunately, most of us are content to live with the free gifts of salvation and grace. That’s not God’s desire. James 4:8 says, “Draw close to God and He will draw close to you.” He wants us to move closer to Him. He wants us to have intimacy with Him. The question is: Do you have the will power and determination to pay the cost through spiritual exercise and what you feed your spirit to make it happen?

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A More Powerful Spiritual Life

If spending quality time with God is the way to having a quality spiritual life, then fasting is the way to having a more powerful spiritual life. Giving up our time shows God we are making Him a priority. Giving up food shows Him that we are willing to sacrifice our physical comfort for spiritual gain. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that I’m afraid too few Christians engage in. Either we don’t see the purpose or we don’t see the value, so we don’t do it. When we skip fasting as a spiritual discipline, we miss out on strength needed to overcome certain things in our lives.

In Mark 9, there is a story of a man who asked Jesus to heal his son who was possessed by an evil spirit. In verse 18 he said, “I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” They had spent quality time with Jesus, but hadn’t been fasting and praying so they lacked the power to heal him. Jesus told them in verse 29, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer and fasting.” He inferred that there is more power in fasting.

When you are in need of more power to overcome a temptation, to find the right direction or to get through a situation, I encourage you to fast and to pray. Your fast should be between you and God. Don’t make an outward show of it or tell people you are doing it so they will feel sorry for you. Jesus said that if you did that, you have your reward. I’d rather have the power of God than the approval of man. It’s our choice when we fast.

In Matthew 6:16, Jesus said, “When (not if) you fast, don’t make it obvious.” He knew that our human nature likes to receive sympathy from others. We like to play to the crowd and to get others to feel sorry for us. Fasting is not about that at all. It’s about showing God you have brought your body under discipline and are denying it what it needs in order to gain what your spirit needs. It shows Him we are willing to feed our spirit instead of our stomach.

The Bible talks of many different types of fasts and lengths of fasts. How long, what you fast and why you fast are between you and God. I always feel like the more challenging the fast, the greater reward. If my fast costs me nothing, that about what I’ll get in return. The greater the need in my life, the greater the fast I do. Some are mentally challenging, but all are physically challenging. I usually seek God on what He wants me to fast and for how long. Once decided, I pray for the need every time I have a desire for what I’m fasting. I’ve learned that giving up what I want for what He wants changes me for the better every time.

What are different fasts that have challenged you physically, mentally and spiritually? How often do you think that Christians should fast? Should it be just when we need something from God or should it be something we do on a regular basis? I’m curious to hear how God has called you to fast and what He’s done through your fasting.

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Opening Doors

Yesterday my son was trying to open a door that was too heavy for him. He grabbed the handle and pulled back. He was trying so hard that he was squinting his eyes. He readjusted his feet and pulled with both hands. The door wouldn’t budge. He knocked on it, moved the handle some more and started pulling again. He turned his body away from the door and pulled trying to use his leg strength. Finally he said, “Dada” and gave me a come help me look.

I walked over, pulled on the door and opened it. He smiled and said, “Thank you, dada.” He’s learned what so many of us still haven’t. He’s learned to call out for help when he can’t get the next door open. He knows who has the strength when he doesn’t. He gave it a valiant effort in his own strength, but when he realized he couldn’t, he called out to the one who could.

I find myself trying to open doors in my life that I feel God wants me to walk through. In my own strength and ability, I’m not able to. Sometimes I’ll stand at that door knock, pull and readjust trying to open it. In the end, I have two choices. I can say, “God must not want me to walk through this door”, or I can say, “God, can you open this door please?” Too many times I choose the first option and miss a lot of blessings God has.

When I can’t open it in my own strength, I reason that God is somehow not wanting me to go through that door. Jesus told the parable of the man who had someone show up to his house late at night. He needed to feed them, but had not food. He went to his neighbor’s house to get food. The neighbor told him the door was locked and he should go away. Instead of leaving, he continued to knock and asked for help. The man finally relented and opened the door.

Prayer is the power in your life to opening the doors that God wants you to walk through. A life of faith isn’t walking through all open doors or doors that you can personally open. A life of faith is recognizing you don’t have the power and then praying to the one who does. God watches as we struggle and pull on the knobs of the doors in our paths. He’s waiting for us to call out to Him in our weakness. He wants to help, but He’s waiting for us to recognize we can’t do it on our own. We need His help. Then we can truly depend on Him.

What doors are you trying to open right now but don’t have the strength? How long have you been trying to open it? Admit your weakness to God and ask Him to open it. While there is power in prayer, there is more power in fasting and praying. If you’ve tried praying and it’s not opening, go to the next level. Jesus showed us that there is more power when we combine the two. Don’t give up on opening your door, knock harder on Heaven’s door.

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