How significant is just your response alone?
Remember the words of Leviticus 26:
… Just five people together can chase [i.e. have the worldly strength of...] 100, … 100 of you can put 10,000 to flight…[showing the exponential power of just a few believers joined in purpose as we pray and fast ... a great equalizer the Lord has given believers]
… So just a handful of us, scattered across the Pacific Northwest, the Dairy Land, the Sugar Sands, The Rockies… or wherever we may be…without even knowing each other can overcome the strength of 100 who oppose us, and just 100 of us can change history ... and will change the world tomorrow.
Want to have an impact on the world? But how to do so? From your hospital bed, from your position on the manufacturing line, as a student or whatever your walk of life - Without even saying a word to another, you can change history. Scripture is clear that prayer alone cannot defeat evil. Fasting must be combined with prayer to achieve such victory. By extension fasting so powerfully protects and aids the focus of our intentions - our courageous first responders, our nation, and one another as we pray for our brothers and sisters who pick up the gauntlet and fast alongside us.
In the Book of Esther, the entire Jewish nation was scattered across the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Persia stretching from Ethipoia to India. Haman's plot was to exterminate all of God’s people on the 13th of the month across the continents. Learning of this, Queen Esther sent out a message led the people in an intense three day fast consisting of no food or drink. Esther said:
My Maids and I will fast likewise and then I will go to the king
What Ester pledged to do was illegal - No one was allowed to approach the king in such a way so what Esther was saying was that I may die for this plan but if it be God's will, I am willing to do so. At the end of the third day, Esther approached the king and laid the foundation for her plan that turned the tables on her people’s oppressors, giving rise to new joy and prosperity for God’s people. Fasting brought a watershed change for God's people when it appeared there was no hope for victory. Esther's example also showed that it is not enough to have others fast for us - fasting is not something that can be delegated.
Consider also the testimony of protection fasting brings to believers, our children and our assets and livelihoods in Ezra Chapter 8. – Ezra was leading exiles from Babylon back to their homeland. It would be a four month journey through enemy territories with women and children. How could they possibly make it safely? Ezra concluded they needed to fast before beginning their journey and in verse 21 we read:
I proclaimed a fast there that we might humble ourselves before our God for ourselves and our littles ones and all of our possessions.
God's people were specific in asking His protection on all that mattered to them - their children and their assets. Ezra had told the king God would protect them and so he turned down a military escort and they set out having fasted in trust. The outcome?
God's people reached their destination without problem. Should that be our approach when loved ones are in battle?
Consider also the incredible lesson from 1Kings 21.
A wicked king ruled named Ahab who led Israel into all that was evil. In verse 21, Elijah pronounced God’s judgement on Ahab and said that every male and female in his house will be destroyed. In verse 25 scripture describes and Ahab going so far as to say "But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up." But in verse 27 we see Elijah’s words resonanted with evil Ahab and Ahab feared the Lord. Ahab tore his clothes and began fasting ... and heaven noticed. In vs 29 God Himself asks:
See how Ahab humbled himself [i.e. fasted] before me? Because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days…
Even an otherwise evil king was spared disaster through the power of fasting!
Remember also the words attributed to Mary, Mother of Christ in Medjugorje:
"You have forgotten that through prayer and fasting you can avert wars and suspend the laws of nature."
And of prayer’s power today:
"If you knew how great the graces are that the Lord is offering you, you would pray without ceasing."
Derrik Prince the internaitonal evangelist said: “It is almost impossible to exaggerate the potential of fasting. No wonder satan tries to hide this key – he is afraid of it.”
Finally from the Old Testament consider the restoration of Nineveh, what could be compared to a biblical precursor of America. God pronounced his judgement on this gentile city notorious for its evil saying it would be destroyed in 40 days. However this massive heathen city heard the call of one prophet who had tried to run away from God's call ... and Ninevah repented and fasted. God's heart was so touched that not only did the Lord choose not to destroy Ninevah as He had pledged but He allowed it to prosper for another 100 years. The renewal of Ninevah only occured after the people humbled themselves to a fast. Fasting was necessary for the restoration of that society and land.
And perhaps the most important passage on fasting in scripture occurs in Mark 9:29 when Christ specifically explains to the apostles that when evil is present prayer alone will lose vs. evil … every time…
…This kind [of victory] can by no other means come forth, but by prayer and fasting.
If your bible does not give the above translation of Mark 9:29, then check the footnotes on this critical verse. Many bible translations today [particularly Catholic bibles published since Vatican II] have betrayed believers and translate this verse only with the word “prayer” rather than “prayer and fasting”. This modern translation has removed the awareness of believers as to how to defeat evil and does not even make the slightest sense (the apostles already had been praying – unsuccessfully. The entire point of the teaching is that fasting must occur to defeat evil) Such an insidious mistranslation has contributed to the reality today where Christians do not even know why evil flourishes around them and why their prayers often seem powerless in the face of this presence. This verse is a litmus test for biblical translations - If Mark 9:29 does not mention fasting, then consider the version of scripture in your hands has been compromised and look for a different version.
Matthew chapter 17 also has been revised to change the meaning of the teaching from verses 20-22. Here is the American Standard translation of one of scriptures most widely quoted teachings, Matthew 17:20-22:
20 And he saith unto them, Because of your little faith: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
22 And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be delivered up into the hands of men;
What happened to verse 21?
Verse 21 is also missing from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, the English Standard Version and others … so probably over 1/3 of our bibles today skip verse 21. Now consider the King James version of the same passage which matches pre-Vatican II Catholic bibles:
20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
22 Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men,
Verse 21 and its words change the takeaway of the this teaching.
Many christian leaders today either deny the presence of those verses in scripture but a fascintating confirmation of their truth was attested to by the Christian Union. Working New York City two member of the volunteer evangelization team were engaged in casting out evil from a believer. The demon spoke to them and said you can only drive me away through prayer and fasting. The evengelists said: We are fasting and praying so in the name of Jesus we command you to leave this man!" ... and with that the demon left the believer in peace.
The history behind the modern re-tranlsations of Mark 9 and Matthew 17, more appropriately recognized as complete distortions of Jesus' intent is a fascinating tale as to how the modern church has been compromised by evil.
In the 1960's when these verses were changed, justification for the change was shrouded in the discovery of two older manuscripts. The justification followed that because these two older manuscripts omitted fasting, that was the intent of Jesus. But consider this - how many manuscripts speak of fasting? Thousands! Only two manuscripts omitted fasting … of thousands!
Further David Whitney highlighted how most manuscripts are only fragments. The tattered condition is what should be expected especially given the primitive parchment used. When read repeatedly over the years the manuscripts would deteriorate.
Why is it that these two manuscripts, the only two of thousands that omitted fasting, would be in the best condition?
The reason is that early believers did not trust the manuscripts so they did not use them!
Early believers knew there was something very wrong with these two manuscripts called Vatican and Sinaitic. These two manuscripts often disagree with one another and show major signs of unreliability, in contrast to the agreement seen in the majority of the thousands of other texts. Early church fathers quoted translations into local dialects that did not agree with these two documents, further indicating that these two translations were rejected by original believers.
Whitney also highlighted that the protestants who lead the push in the 1960’s to re-translate these verses, Westcott and Hort, were later recognized as satanic worshipers.
Para Biblical Support
Outside of the Bible while the work of most writings from the 7th century are long forgotten it is interesting that the writings of a monk named Isaac in the 7th century survive. Isaac wrote that Adam & Eve’s failure to fast even in just a small way led to the fall of humanity. [If they had abstained from eating the apple they would have remained in paradise] He also suggested that Jesus’ 40 day fast brought defeat upon evil that still stings evil. Isaac wrote that to this day believers inflict fear on evil when fasting. He described fasting as a weapon in our hands while we engage in battle.
It is also interesting that Asterius, a 5th century evangelist who lived in what is modern day Turkey, had at least seventeen of his sermons survive the test of time. In one sermon Asterius makes an extraordinary claim we have not heard elsewhere about the power surrounding fasting. Asterius wrote:
“Angels are close guardians and keepers of the homes that fast.”
The possibility of having such incremental protection around loved ones is itself reason to fast regularly.
Consider also America's storied history when the nation fasted. One such example that has faded in the annals of our popular consciousness is that Abraham Lincoln put forth a proclamation for a National Day of Fasting to be observed on Thursday, April 30, 1863. Three days after the National Fast, a stray bullet from a confederate soldier hit and ultimately killed General Stonewall Jackson, without whose military prowess the South plummeted into disrepair. Hours before the bullet hit Jacskon, the South had again enjoyed a notable victory over Union troops but without Jackson at the ensuing Battle of Gettysburg, a battle widely acknowledged as the turning point of the war, the south suffered a crucial defeat and Union fortunes began to swing towards restoration of the nation.
As a parting word to ministers, priests, deacons, bishops, cloistered, and annoited servants of every type, in 2 Co. 11:27 Paul lists the identifying characteristics of ministers. He specifies a citeria with which they will be identified is by “fastings often”.
Ministers - Would Paul testify against you for denying your duty to fast? Join us and return to the practice of weekly fasting as 1st century Christians practiced.
To congregations, expect that your church leadership will not fast weekly. As countless saints have told us, don't expect leadership from your clergy - when it comes, consider it a positive surprise and recognize how extraordinary your minister is today. It is our duty as lay believers to lead where ministers will not.