By Perry Stone
At the beginning of each year, thousands of ministers accompanied by millions of Christians initiate the New Year with a united call to fast – choosing to submit their bodies, souls and spirits to the discipline of fasting. The prophet Isaiah gives one of the strongest defenses for a chosen fast and explains the marvelous results that follow a special time of consecration through fasting (please read Isaiah 58:5-9).
In the early days of the Pentecostal movement, fasting was a common expression of both a commitment to draw closer to God and a desire to see the convicting power of God released upon the unsaved and unbeliever. I have personally known of men, such as Dr. T.L. Lowery, who were led to fast for forty days. On the thirtieth day I saw him munching on ice and drinking water to hydrate his body. I was also present at the Alabama Church of God Camp Meeting in Bessemer under the old metal tabernacle on the fortieth day of his fast, when he was asked to preach. He was so weak he gripped the pulpit to stand on his feet. About 10 minutes into his message, suddenly, like a bolt of lightning igniting a tree, the power of God struck him and he began preaching with a loud voice and boldness. As T.L. shook under God’s power, the Holy Spirit flung a blanket of God’s glory over the entire crowd of about 4,000! The power of God fell. It seemed that everyone near him, especially on the platform, began to fall under God’s power. It was a memorable moment and a life-changing experience for all of us “young preachers,” who desired for God to bump us up to a new level of ministry. When Dr. Lowery was asked by church leaders why he felt the need to fast forty days, he replied, “There is a place in God that I have not gotten to yet and I am hungry to find it and experience it!”
My own father, Fred Stone, was a man of fervent prayer and fasting. When I share with youth that my dad saw at least 16 people totally healed of cancer the last ten years of his ministry, they often ask, “What was his secret to see these types of miracles?” The answer is threefold. First, Dad had compassion when he saw the sick and afflicted – meaning his heart was moved with pity for them and his compassion connected him to their need with the remedy that Christ was the healer. Second, there are two spiritual gifts that Paul the Apostle identified as the “Gifts of healing and working of miracles” (1Cor. 12:7-10). Dad earnestly desired these gifts to manifest through his ministry in order to bring deliverance to the hurting. I personally witnessed these gifts in operation at specific times when dad would minister. Third, dad was a man of fasting. Though he suffered with diabetes, especially the last ten years of his life, he would fast for days before going to a church to minister even in his mid-seventies! While this may not have been wisdom on his part according to his doctors, his spirit burned within him to see God demonstrate His power for the hurting. When asked why he could pray for the sick and thousands receive healing while he still suffered from diabetes, he replied:
“I don’t have the answer. But I do know that Elisha received a double portion of the anointing of Elijah and when Elisha died his bones raised a dead man. Yet we are informed that Elisha died of a sickness. How can a man with such inward anointing die of sickness? It is a mystery so I let God take care of the things I don’t understand…”
The three significant keys Dad used to impart God’s grace of healing to those seeking this grace of God for their bodies, mind and inner spirits were compassion, the gifts of the Spirit and sharpened faith through fasting.
Temptation During a Fast
When Christ was directed by the Holy Spirit into the Judean Wilderness for forty days to encounter the temptations of Satan, we assume that Satan arrived with this mental assault afterthe forty days. His attacks were designed to make Jesus question his identity as the Son of God (“If you be the son of God” – Matt. 4:3-11). However, Luke penned that Christ was actually tempted during the entire forty days and not just at the conclusion, as it is written, “And being forty days tempted of the devil…” (Luke 4:2). Satan was there the entire forty days to mentally harass Christ. We are uncertain of the types of mental pressure placed on Christ during this forty days – or 960 hours – in the wilderness. I have fasted at times and experienced mental thoughts saying, “You will get too weak to preach so you’d better eat,” or, “You have gone long enough, so go ahead and stop now,” or even, “This actually does no good except making you feel miserable, so you need to eat.” Thus, I am certain during the forty days various discouraging words and thoughts were continually being shot like arrows into Christ’s mind.
Recently, during an OCI fast which was called by Pastor Mark Casto, I began to observe something commonly occurring among some who were fasting. It seemed there was an increase in misunderstanding, lack of communication and even offense that would begin to arise among some of the strongest believers. From an outside view, some of these distractions seemed totally ridiculous and made no sense whatsoever. People would misread the comments and the actions of others. I addressed this issue during the fast.
I informed our prayer team that there were two things not commonly taught about that occur during a fast. First, we have the misconception that while we are fasting we are enjoying some type of invisible force field surrounding us that Satan is unable to pierce during the fast. This is totally untrue. In fact, you may encounter more spiritual powers of darkness during a fast, as they know that your consecration will break yokes, bring deliverance and draw you closer to the presence of God. Thus, these attacks of misunderstanding and lack of communication are part of the enemy’s plan to discourage individuals from following through with their commitment to fervently seek God. Fasting is a discipline that brings carnal desires under subjection to the Spirit of the Lord.
The second aspect of fasting that is commonly understated is that during a fast the areas where you privately struggle can begin to surface. I have watched fasting men and women suddenly lose their temper, become confrontational and verbally offend others. This used to puzzle me until I realized that God is bringing these hidden weaknesses to the surface so the individual can see “the real junk” hindering them and deal with these issues before they become a major stronghold in their life! In Hebrew, the word fast is tsuwm (pronounced tsoom) and means, “to cover the mouth.” While there are (in Daniel) different types of fasts, the true Biblical fast of the Old Testament prophets and in Christ’s time was to shut the mouth and abstain from food. Our American society is locked into the three meal a day habit: breakfast, lunch and dinner. When beginning a fast (depending upon your type of fast) craving food, omitting caffeine from coffee, and lacking protein can make you irritable. This irritation serves as an indicator that you are breaking the dominion of your flesh and humbling your spirit before God. While fasting, you will observe moments when the flesh begins to rise up and show itself. Understand this is the area in your life about which God is attempting to deal with you, and it is an opportunity to bring a new level of discipline to yourself.
The Result Always Follows
After Christ fasted forty days, he “returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee” (Luke 4:14). This began his public ministry, followed by miracles and deliverances that flowed from him. Christ gained complete victory over Satan’s temptation, which led to the release of anointing like a wild fire in a dry forest. The results of a true fast are not normally seen during the fast itself, as this is the battle zone. The results often manifest in the days, weeks or months following.
Christ also taught his disciples that there were some demonic spirits that were very strong and would maintain their stronghold unless a person utilized a combination of fasting and prayer (see Matthew 17:14-21). At OCI we are experiencing a life-imparting prayer movement each Thursday night as we are joined by over 800 “Firehouses,” or places of prayer throughout the world. We are determined to accompany this movement with fasting. Through these power twins of faith, we believe we will see multitudes come to Christ and receive their deliverance. Always make fasting a part of your life and ministry.
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International Evangelist Perry Stone, a fourth generation minister of the gospel, directs one of America’s fastest growing ministries – Voice of Evangelism. Throughout his more than thirty-two years of full time ministry, Perry has authored over forty books and booklets; produced over one-hundred videos and DVD’s; as well as produced hundreds of audio teaching albums series. Within the last two decades, Perry has also found time to write for and publish the magazine, The Voice of Evangelism. In the year 2000, Manna-Fest with Perry Stone, a weekly television program was launched and can be seen nationally and internationally via cable and satellite systems around the world. Visit www.voe.org for more information.