Fasting (God's Secret Weapon)
There is a very real reason for it remaining so secret, and that is the fact of the terrible price our flesh must pay in order to obey the scriptures concerning it. To deny the body food when it becomes hungry is against all natural reason. The natural part of us, that is to say the CARNAL part of us, will reason against this part of the Bible's teaching as against no other doctrine. To do without food when food is available, and when the body is demanding it, is to the modern church foolishness of no small caliber. Yet to the SPIRITUAL MAN that lives inside these bodies of clay, it is a matter of life or death.
Perhaps the preceding statement seems far too strong to most of our readers, but we have not so stated without much material to back up the words. What Bible student can deny the teaching of scripture concerning keeping the flesh body under control? Paul made it as clear as clear can be. I Cor. 9:25-27, "And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we for an incorruptible. Verse 26, "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly so fight I, not as one that beateth the air." Verse 27, "But I keep my body under (control) and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
Paul knew that his flesh body was an enemy to his SPIRITUAL MAN and warned us about it in Gal. 5:17, "For the flesh lusteth against the spirit (against the SPIRITUAL MAN); and the spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would." Paul had learned from the Old Testament scrolls that the secret to keeping the FLESH MAN under control is FASTING. He studied the same scriptures that are available to us today. There is no doubt in my mind but what Paul made Isaiah's teaching on fasting a part of his routine of life.
Isa. 58:6-12, (We will quote parts of these scriptures and ask you to study them in your Bible.), "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke." In this scripture we see at once that God has CHOSEN that we should fast. As we read we will see that He is sharing with us His secret weapon for a ministry of deliverance.
Verse 7, "Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh." In this verse God is explaining that fasting will prepare the SPIRITUAL MAN in us to take the BREAD, or the WORD, and minister it under a powerful anointing that would not otherwise be upon us. To hide ourselves from our own flesh is to refuse to fast to obtain this anointing, so that our life and testimony will be effective toward the saving of the souls of our own family.
Verse 8, "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily, and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the Glory of the Lord shall be thy reward." THEN that is to say AFTER we have fasted and brought our OUTER FLESH MAN under control of the INNER SPIRITUAL MAN, our light ,or our life and testimony, will break forth and be effective upon those around us. When the OUTER MAN is under control, then the INNER MAN, who is RIGHTEOUS, will be able to manifest this righteousness through the FLESH MAN.
Did you notice also that God said, "After we fast, our HEALTH shall spring forth speedily." It needs to be taught from the house tops that in America we are digging our own graves with our teeth. Over-eating is by far the biggest single factor in the failing health of most Americans.
I read from the manual of a medical doctor the following statement, "Every bite of food that we eat which the body does not actually need to maintain it's strength for daily activities becomes toxic waste and does actually poison the system. This poison then, which is self-administered by our over-eating, does in fact become the root from which most of our bodily ailments grow. Our medicines cannot hold their own against this growing cause of death. We must educate the people concerning this modern, American way of self-destruction." (End quote)
Medical science has learned what our God told us in the Bible hundreds of years ago. To maintain a healthy body we must restrict our intake of food, and not only that, we must miss some meals as the Lord leads us. God calls it FASTING.
Although many are discovering the physical benefits of controlled eating habits, the church seems to have lost sight of Bible teaching about fasting for the health of the SPIRITUAL MAN. Fasting is the key to keeping the FLESH MAN under control, and the INNER, SPIRITUAL MAN is only strong to the degree that the OUTER FLESH MAN is kept under.
Many of you will be able to testify of the following truth: the more food we give the physical body the stronger it becomes (up to a point), and the stronger it becomes, the more of it's natural lusts it demands to be satisfied. This is why the Bible says, "Make no provision for the flesh." (Rom. 13:14) When given all it's demands, the FLESH MAN quickly subdues the SPIRITUAL MAN. Therefore, Paul said, "I keep my body under subjection." (I Cor. 9:27) Have you ever noticed that when the body is denied the food that it craves, then all other activities that normally give us pleasure, loose their ability to comfort us? This is because food is the key to keeping the FLESH MAN under control. He thrives on physical food; the more of it he gets the more are his fleshly lusts stirred up. But on the other hand, when he is denied food, except for what is actually needed to sustain him, these lusts are subdued (kept under) and the SPIRITUAL MAN comes to the front.
When the FLESH MAN is being kept under, the SPIRITUAL MAN is tall and strong, and when the flesh is catered to excessively the SPIRITUAL MAN is pale and anemic. Therefore the scriptures we are studying in Isaiah, and many others we will look at, call the church to this God-chosen work of fasting.
Continuing our look at Isaiah 58:9 we read, "THEN shalt thou call and the Lord shall answer, thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here am I ." Did you notice? The Lord said, "THEN", or, "AFTER" we have fasted He shall answer and say, Here I am. We do know that our Lord answers the prayers of faith. Can we see then that the scripture is telling us that fasting has to do with increasing our faith?
The absence of fasting has much to do with the absence of power in our lives. When God promised in the book of Joel that He would restore the Church to it's original place of power, He sent us a Prophet with a message to bring about that restoration.
Concerning this power Brother Branham said, QUOTE: PERSEVERANCE, PAGES 1-2, "Now this is the night that I try to put these three nights for praying for the sick, and speaking to the sick, prayer for the sick-----If I preach hard I have to eat, and if I eat I can't have these kind of services (healing services)---You are full of food and your blood is gone to your stomach to digest the food, and then your brain just don't work right, in that way." (End quote)
QUOTE: THE WAY OF A TRUE PROPHET, PAGES 22-23, " Someone even laughed at me when the Lord came here not long ago and gave me a vision that I always wanted to see, about binding the serpent. I always wondered if I should step out like that, when that's what I wanted all my life. Then I begin to FAST and pray. They (those who laughed) said, "What did you do that for?" I said, "In there He said I was not sincere enough." I had to come now to purge myself. Purge your souls." (End quote) (Fasting purges our souls and makes way for faith.)
QUOTE: REALITIES OF THE LIVING GOD, PAGE 8, "And I said, here is Gene Goad, Pat Tyler, and a whole bunch of them, like these fellows here. When I'm in one of those meetings they lay on their face and FAST for days, don't even eat, and pray for me. That's what carries me on. That's the strength. Their help cometh from the Lord. Just so many of them, of my friends that just FAST and pray. They refuse their meals and FASTING and praying." (End quote)
QUOTE: SPOKEN WORD IS ORIGINAL SEED, PAGE 98, "Oh I remember sitting there in a room, three days in there, praying and waiting on the Lord and FASTING." (End quote)
QUOTE: ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH PART 2, PAGE 61, "God shake this little old Church like never before. May the Holy Ghost get a-hold of every person here, cause them to FAST and pray, and lay on their face day and night, screaming out Lord, until the old fashioned revival breaks out." (End quote)
Fasting has always been a powerful weapon in the hands of God's called people. It was so in the Old Testament, as we shall see.
Moses fasted 40 days while receiving the law. Exodus 34:28, "And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments."
When Elijah was fearful for his life, and running from Jezebel, in his desperation he fasted forty days until he reached Horeb the Mount of God. I Kings 19:8, "And he arose and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the Mount of God."
When the enemy gathered against Jehoshaphat, he set himself to seek the Lord and called a FAST throughout all Judah. II Chro.20:3, "And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a FAST throughout all Judah."
Ezra and his helpers fasted while seeking God about rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem. Ezra 8:21, "Then I proclaimed a FAST there, at the river Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of Him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance."
Esther, a type of the Bride, fasted and prayed before taking her life in her hands by going before the King uncalled. Esther 4:15-16, "Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and FAST ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days---I also, and my maidens will FAST likewise, and so will I go in unto the King, which is not according to the law, and if I perish, I perish."
When the Lord was about to send judgment on Israel, Jehoiakim called a FAST. Jeremiah 36:9, "And it came to pass----that they proclaimed a FAST before the Lord to all the people in Jerusalem----."
The people of Nineveh believed the preaching of Jonah concerning their destruction and proclaimed a FAST at Jonah's warning; God spared them. Jonah 3:5, "So the people of Nineveh believed God and proclaimed a FAST-----."
Ps. 35:13, David said, "I humbled my soul with FASTING."
Ps. 69:10, "I chastened my soul with FASTING."
Ps. 109:24, David said, "My knees are weak from FASTING."
Daniel 9:3, Daniel set his face to seek the Lord "By prayer and FASTING."
Joel 2:11-12, "And the Lord shall utter His voice before His army----therefore also now saith the Lord, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with FASTING and weeping, and with mourning."
These scriptures, and others, prove that in Old Testament days FASTING was a key to drawing closer to the Lord and being able to hear His voice. Is it not when we hear His voice that our faith is anchored? Our faith is perfected as we receive His orders, and thereby know where we stand. Then can we see that FASTING has to do with our being able to hear His voice? God speaks, but our spiritual ears grow dull when our outer FLESH MAN is ruling. God's ordained way to move the FLESH MAN out of the way, so that the SPIRITUAL MAN may come to the front, is to subdue him by FASTING.
IF you have been following the teaching series, you remember that we have gone to great length to separate, in our minds, the INNER MAN from the OUTER MAN. One is of God and the other of the enemy. "The flesh lusteh against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other--." (Gal. 5:17)
In the natural world there is a law that says, "The strong shall rule." In the spiritual world it is the same, as the flesh and the Spirit war for control of the Christian. The strongest shall rule. Physical food, over and above the actual need of the body, does actually diminish the strength of the INNER MAN. This is because the lust of the flesh depends on the strength of the flesh, which strength is built up by an abundance of food, allowing the flesh man to rule.
So in I Cor. 9:27, Paul said, "I keep my body (OUTER MAN) under control and bring it into subjection." He had learned the secret of FASTING in order to control the carnal desires of his flesh.
Rom.8:12-13, "Therefore Brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh ye shall die. But if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."
Rom. 7:25, Paul said, "With my flesh I serve the law of sin." This law of sin that always remains in our flesh, is weakened and subdued by FASTING. Until the flesh is kept under, we do not have the Spiritual discernment we need.
QUOTE: DISCERNING THE BODY OF THE LORD, PAGE 10, "We should come together arm and heart, and pray and FAST and call until God sends back the Holy Ghost, that we might have spiritual discernment." (End quote)
In II Cor. 11:27, Paul said he was, "In FASTINGS often." Fasting was a part of his routine of life, and so was it for our last Church Age Messenger.
QUOTE: TEACHING ON MOSES, PAGE 20, "You know sometimes, people when they pray get tired, Oh they get so tired. I sometimes get so tired I almost faint, when I go to praying a long time. Just get so faint, go without eating and things for days, and pray, and pray, and preaching too. I just get to a place I go to faint nearly." (End quote)
QUOTE: WHAT IS THE HOLY GHOST, PAGE 4, " Then when we're coming tonight, we're coming upon Holy Ground, among a people who has been praying and FASTING and making restitutions and getting ready to receive something from God.
QUOTE: FOOTPRINTS BOOK, PAGE 369, "I was planning on taking a FAST to the Lord. I told Him I would go out and FAST-----A FAST in the body is a feast with the Lord, we know that." (End quote)
QUOTE: AND KNOWETH IT NOT, PAGES 26-27, "Your daddy buried, your brother buried, your wife laying there to be buried, and here is your baby, about fifteen minutes more and she will be gone. And (you say) He's a Healer? Your own flesh and blood, and one word from Him would save the baby's life----how night after night you FASTED---." (End quote)
Fasting is not a PRY BAR to be used against God to move Him from His will and purpose. We have been taught that God does not change His mind. There is no need for Him to seeing that His plan was made out of His total knowledge, absolute wisdom, and unfailing love. Any change would be for our Creator to admit He erred in His original judgment, and this could not be. Therefore, we do not set our finite minds toward some goal of ours, then fast and demand that our plan be carried out. Having said that, we hurry on to say that it is not wrong to fast and pray in order to determine God's mind about a thing, always remembering that no prayer is pleasing to God unless the spirit behind it is "Lord, Thy will be done."
We conclude, then, that fasting with our prayers is to move the flesh man out of the way, so that our INNER MAN is prepared to accept the Sovereign will of God in all matters presented to Him.
Matt. 6:9, "After this manner therefore pray ye. Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come. THY WILL BE DONE in Earth, as it is in Heaven."
The Christian who seeks God in FASTING as well as prayer will be more able to trust the One who "Doeth according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among THE INHABITANTS OF THE EARTH." (Dan.4:35) He will have a fuller revelation of Eph.3:11 which tells us that he has an ETERNAL PURPOSE "According to the Eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus."
The Lord Jesus taught FASTING, both by word and deed. In Matt. 17:14-21 we witness a tragic scene that took place some two thousand years ago. A desperate man had brought his lunatic son to the disciples for deliverance. Failing to receive such from them, he sought out Jesus and again presented his desperate plea. The child was cured as Jesus rebuked the devil. Then came the disciples and asked, "Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus answered, Because of your unbelief." Then in verse 21 He revealed to them, and us, one of the basic reasons for unbelief. "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and FASTING."
We have before stated that FASTING has to do with increasing our faith. Can you see in the above scripture that Jesus was instructing them on FASTING? He said in essence, your unbelief hindered you, and your lack of FASTING contributed to that unbelief. How often has this sad scene been repeated in the lives of us modern day disciples?
In John 4:31-34 the Lord Jesus was again instructing His Disciples on FASTING; this time by example. "They prayed Him, Master eat. But He said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. They were puzzled and asked, has any man brought Him ought to eat? But He saith to them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me."
The Lord Himself could not do the will of the Father in delivering the people, except He live a fasted life. How often we tend to forget that it was the MAN part of our Lord that ministered to the people, and this MAN part had to follow the same rules as you and I. FASTING is one of the rules for a power- filled life.
Again in Matt. 6:5-7 the Lord was giving instructions concerning prayer. He gave certain things that should be done, and other things that should not be done. And then a few verses later He gave instructions about FASTING (Matt. 6:15-18). Again He gave certain things to do and others not to do. The great point is that He gave instructions about FASTING just as He did about praying. He said, "WHEN you FAST" just as He said, "WHEN you PRAY." How can we escape the implication of His teaching? We are looking for a Bride revival. It is this writer's opinion that FASTING will be one of the things that brings it to pass.
Acts 13:2-3, "The Saints in the Church at Antioch ministered unto the Lord and FASTED.
Acts 10:30, Cornelieus said, "Four days ago I was FASTING until this hour." After a four day fast God sent an Angel to him. Acts 14:23, "And when they had ordained them Elders in every Church, and had prayed with FASTING, they commended them to the Lord---."
I Cor. 7:5 Paul said, "Give yourselves to FASTING and prayer."
II Cor. 6:4-5, "But in all things approving ourselves as the Ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses. In stripes, in inprisionments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, IN FASTINGS."
Luke 2:36-37, "Anna , a Prophetess and a widow served God in the Temple night and day with FASTINGS and prayers.
The question often arises, "Is fasting injurious to the health?" According to Isaiah chapter 58, the Christian who fasts under God's direction will experience his "Health springing forth speedily" and his "Bones being made fat." While it is true that an unsupervised and very lengthy fast can be injurious, it is also true that not many will ever have that problem. Brother Branham did not generally recommend a long fast. However, we see some in scripture, and God must lead.
To those who say fasting makes them sick, this is only proof that we have failed to accustom the body to God's program of controlled food intake. It is true that God allows the enemy to come against us as we fast. But is this not also true about most good that we would do? Hear what the Prophet said about this.
QUOTE: THIRST, PAGE 6, "Like for instance, seeking the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. I run into people who say, "Well , I have sought for the Holy Ghost and I just couldn't receive it. Every time I get down to pray I get sick. I don't believe it's for me. If I FAST I get sick----. Remember, that's the devil------trying to get you away from what God has for you." (End quote) Total abstinence is not the only fast we find in the scriptures. Daniel "Ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled." (Daniel 10:3)
Brother Branham also fasted in this manner. QUOTE: A TRUE SIGN THAT'S OVERLOOKED, PAGE 3, "Right now I'm not eating pleasant foods in these days, haven't since the going of my mother. I'm seeking the Lord for a new vision. Just eating soft things, and as little as I can get by with. I've lost twenty pounds." (End quote) (Mother Branham departed this life Oct. 27, 1961. Brother Branham preached this message Nov. 12, 1961. According to his testimony, he was on this partial fast 15 or 16 days.)
A partial fast is very helpful. The main objective is to keep the natural flesh man under control, and controlling his food intake is the key to this control. May the Lord help us all to obey His Word concerning this powerful weapon of FASTING.