How Desperate Are You?
Prayer and Fasting
We know very little about personal sacrifice today. Personal sacrifice is when you have to give up something, and it may even hurt, in order to walk with God. Personal sacrifice is when you have to give up something or someone that you love very much, and it may even hurt, in order to walk with God. Christians today have idolized the word, "commitment." However, the key word in the Spirit-filled life is not commitment. The key word in the Spirit-filled life is surrender. The surrendering of your entire life to God indicates personal sacrifice. Your level of surrender and personal sacrifice will determine your depth of walking with God. The theme of our church for the next twelve months is, "Whatever It Takes". The "whatever it takes" attitude should dominate our decision-making as Christians. If we are talking about the future of our church, our personal walk with Christ, giving, witnessing, building our Bible study ministry, worship, reaching people or discipling people, our response should be, "Whatever it takes to accomplish these . . . then we will do it!" That is a "whatever it takes" attitude. A "whatever it takes" attitude promotes the surrender of self. it promotes the area of personal sacrifice. A "whatever it takes" attitude is determined by our level of desperation in life. Let me ask you a stirring question today: "How desperate are you?" How desperate are you spiritually? How desperate are you to walk with God? How desperate are you to know His will for your life? How desperate are you to see your friend come to Christ? How desperate are you for our nation? How desperate are you for God?
T.S.: This morning I want to talk about a spiritual principle that possibly will not be preached in any pulpit today in America other than this one. It is not a spiritual principle that is talked about very much in our day because it involves personal sacrifice and surrender. Under the thematic question today, "How Desperate Are You?", I want to talk to you about the principle of fasting and prayer. They go together ... prayer and fasting. Dr. Charles Stanley defines fasting as "abstinence with a spiritual goal in mind." Fasting is when you abstain from food and water, or just food, or sexual relations with your wife . . . to get a hold of God in prayer with a spiritual goal in mind. It may be the spiritual goal of cleansing, the will of God, or even may be some assignment God has given to you. When I refer to fasting today, I am talking only about a ",food fast1" where in a twenty-four hour period of time or as long as God tells you, you would abstain from food from sunset on one day until sunset on the other. In this period of time you would couple that fasting with prayer and having a spiritual goal in mind. How desperate are you? Therefore, with that introduction today, I want to talk to you about when you should fast and pray. I want to highlight in Scripture, five occasions in your life when you should fast and pray:
I. WHEN YOU ARE DESPERATE FOR GOD, YOU SHOULD FAST AND PRAY.
Explain: Jesus: Matthew 4:1-2 Jesus was desperate to be in the solitude of His Father's presence so He fasted for forty days and forty nights. Moses: Exodus 34:28 Moses was desperate for God so he fasted for forty days and nights. Joel: Joel 1:14 Joel was desperate for God so he called all of God's people to fast so they could successfully call out to the Lord. Application: How desperate are you for God today? Are you desperate enough to be in the Lord's presence and power that you would fast and pray for even twenty- four hours, much less forty days and nights? Do you ever feel like you just need to be with God and listen to God speak to you . . . then is when you should fast and pray. When you are desperate for God, you should fast and pray.
II. WHEN YOU ARE DESPERATE TO EXAMINE YOURSELF AND BE RIGHT WITH GOD, YOU SHOULD FAST AND PRAY.
Explain: David: 2 Samuel 12:16 David had just committed adultery . . . his life was in shambles . . . he had just been rebuked by Nathan the prophet . . . he saw his sin . . . so he wanted to be right with God ... so he fasted and prayed. David: Psalm 69:10 David under much distress wanted to be right with God so he would escape the judgment of God ... so he prayed and fasted. Application: There are multiple times in life when we need to examine ourselves. There are times when we need to know we are right with God. There are times when we know we have sinned against God and the only way we can overcome the sin and its guilt is to fast and pray. Listen, when you are desperate to examine yourself and be right with God, fast and pray.
III. WHEN YOU ARE DESPERATE FOR GOD'S DIRECTION, YOU SHOULD FAST AND PRAY.
Explain: Daniel: Daniel 9:3 Daniel wanted to know how long God's people would be in captivity . . . he needed to know God's direction for his life and God's people, so he prayed and fasted. Application: Many of you today have been on a roller coaster in trying to know God's direction in many areas for your life. It may be in regard to a purchase, or determining God's mate for your life, or a business decision, or a career choice, or many other things. However, if you are desperate for God's direction for your life, are you desperate enough to fast and pray? Daniel was. We should be willing to do it.
IV. WHEN YOU ARE DESPERATE ABOUT THE SPIRITUAL CONDITION OF YOUR NATION, YOU SHOULD FAST AND PRAY.
Explain: Judah: 2 Chronicles 20:3 They were afraid for their nation's future, so they fasted and prayed. Ninevah: Jonah 3:5 Ninevah wanted to escape the coming judgment of God so they prayed and fasted. The result was not judgment, but revival! llustration-. The desperate condition of America. Applic tion: Do you love America and want to see a revival or spiritual awakening enough that you would pray and fast? The response of the Christian is not griping about America in the coffee shop, but we should pray and fast for America to have revival.
V. WHEN YOU ARE DESPERATE TO SUCCEED IN GOD'S ASSIGNED WORK TO YOU, YOU SHOULD FAST AND PRAY
Explain: Nehemiah: Nehemiah 1:4 He was called to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem . .. an impossible task so h-e prayed and fasted. Church: Acts 13:2-3 The church had the task of winning the world to Christ, so they prayed and fasted. Application: God may give you what you would consider an impossible task . .. will we pray and fast?- God has given our church a daring task . . . to win Northwest Arkansas, America, and the world to Christ ... will we pray and fast?
Beginning this Tuesday, January 5, all the way through Sunday, February 14, 1 am calling our church to "40 days of prayer and fasting." Our assigned task is to take Northwest Arkansas for Jesus Christ in the week of February 14-21. We have asked a group of men to come into our church in an innovative format and help us accomplish this task- A group of Spirit-filled professional athletes called the POWERTEAM are coming in to help us in this endeavor. I am calling you to a food fast one day a week, accompanied by prayer for this crusade effort. If you are a part of our prayer ministry, I am asking you to fast on your assigned day of prayer. If you are not a part of our prayer ministry, choose one day a week. Begin a sunset on one day and conclude a sunset on the next day. For forty days and nights we are asking God for our city through prayer and fasting. . . I cannot wait to see what happens. The issue is personal sacrifice. The issue is surrender. Christ is our supreme example of both. He did it for you.