Faithlife Sermons

6 We Pray: We Fast

We Are Church  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Big Idea: Abstain from gratifying the flesh in order to strengthen the spirit.

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Introduction

We Fast –
Focus this month on Prayer. Week of Prayer and Fasting ending today.
We Are Church series continuing with We Pray in January. And Today we’re talking about fasting. We Fast.
What Is Fasting?
Not My Fast
Do you ever feel like God isn’t listening? Like you’re not getting through?
What About Mt. Rock?
When you feel like you’re doing all you are supposed to do, but the answers aren’t coming?
Many get upset and disillusioned with God. Some walk away from faith.
One solution that we are taught in a church setting is to fast and pray.
Fasting supposedly reaches the heart of God, gets His attention, makes Him listen, brings breakthrough and answers. Is that really the way fasting is supposed to work?
What does God have to say about it?

Points

What is Fasting?

Turn to
Read Isaiah 58:1-2
1-2 Time to bring sin into focus, seem to be doing what's right
Fasting is self-denial, abstaining from something – usually food and drink, but there are examples of abstaining from other things as well.
Abstain from gratifying the flesh in order to strengthen the spirit.
Examples of Fasting and reasons:
Moses on the mountain receiving the commands from God. (Revelation)
Nehemiah when he heard the news of Jerusalem’s poor situation and exile (mourning)
Daniel praying for forgiveness for the nation (repentance)
Esther and Israel to humble themselves and ask for God’s help when Haman wanted to kill them. (mourning, Intervention)
David – after his sin with Bathsheba – (repentance, mourning) and for their baby (mourning, intervention)
Jesus – 40 days in the wilderness at the beginning of His ministry (humility, self-denial, direction)
Jesus and new church in Acts often fasted and prayed for appointing disciples/leaders. (direction)
Only one command to fast is in and 23. Day of Atonement. A sabbath day. Day of denying self, no work, usually observed with no eating as well. (repentance)
So, in Israel was fasting, seeking, looking like they were obeying.
v.2 seem eager, as if do what’s right, seem eager
Read a
3a Why don't you hear us
So, it wasn’t working out for them. God not responding to their seeming self-denial.
Read Isaiah 58:3b-4
3b-4 fasting with wrong motives and wrong heart. Don't expect answers.
Hearts are wrong. Other actions are not humble. It’s a show. Self-interest.
Attitude and action toward God, others, household, all wicked. But then when they want something come to God and go through the motions of a fast.
After election 3 1/2 years ago, many people said Not My President

Not My Fast

Read
Not my fast. Not what I desire or require - only the signs of mourning, self-focused.
Fasting often looks like mourning. Fasting often accompanies mourning.
and , questions from religious leaders about why Jesus parties and why His disciples do not fast. Jesus responds –
Matthew 9:15 NIV
15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
6-7 Here is what I want to see in fasting… yes, deny yourself but not for yourself. Invest in others, fast for the benefit of the oppressed, poor, helpless.
Pay attention to the heart of God
Read Isaiah 58:6-7
6-7 Here is what I want to see in fasting… yes, deny yourself but not for yourself. Invest in others, fast for the benefit of the oppressed, poor, helpless.
walk through 6 and 7
This is what I want to see and this is what you will see, and God will answer.
Read
Luke 4:18–19 NIV
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
From . This is Me. This is why I’m here.
From . This is Me. This is why I’m here.
Read
Luke 18:9–14 NIV
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Jesus teaches the heart of true humility in prayer, including fasting and tithing.
Jesus teaches the heart of true humility in prayer, including fasting and tithing.
Understand the heart of God. Rescue, redeem, restore. Setting free those held captive by the enemy. Righting wrongs. Justice. Poverty, immigration, racism, abortion, slavery, oppression,
This is what fasting produces.
Read
-9a Then… God hears, lots of blessings,
When you fast… do not show it, present well and let God reward what you do in secret.
Do what you do in true humility and God will see and He will respond and He will be with you, and you will get what you need.

What About Mt. Rock?

If… Then statements. If you do this, then you can expect this, if your heart is this way, you can expect God's response
Read Isaiah 58:9b-10a
9b-10a If you do these things…
walk through each line
THEN God will respond
Read Isaiah 58:10b-12
10b-12 then here is what will happen.
Self-denial for the sake of others, God sees and responds.
v.12 highlights the rebuilding, repairing, restoring.
Not saying this is a direct promise for Mt. Rock, but I do believe the principles are there and the heart of God is there.
If we get our hearts right and we deny ourselves and invest in others, we will see God respond and there will be rebuilding and repairing and restoring.
Another If…Then set
13 If you observe the sabbath with the right heart, delight, honor, holy, God-focused
14 Then joy, triumph, feast

Conclusion

Fasting – Abstain from gratifying the flesh in order to strengthen the spirit.
Not for God to hear from us except that we need to repent, confess all errant ways, prepare to listen clearly with no other agenda
Fasting and Prayer - Mourning, repentance, intervention, direction.
if we come with the right motives, come humbling ourselves as we truly seek God, spend time focused on Him, abstaining from all else that distracts (pray until you really pray) for us to hear from God
Right heart attitude and Expression of humility, honor, respect, reverence, devotion.
Fasting and Action – devoting ourselves to the work of rescuing, redeeming, restoring. Ministries of compassion, justice, proclaiming the Good News.
Fasting and Action – devoting ourselves to the work of rescuing, redeeming, restoring. Ministries of compassion, justice, proclaiming the Good News.
Blessing is a result of the investment of ourselves into others. As we follow Jesus into the community and find where He’s working to join Him there.
We will find God responding, intervening, directing, meeting needs.
It starts right here with us. Me and you.
Are we willing to humble ourselves
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