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Praying and Fasting in the New Year

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson
The Truth Network Radio
January 11, 2023 7:00 pm

Praying and Fasting in the New Year

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson

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January 11, 2023 7:00 pm

Stu interviews Pastor Allen Holmes to talk about prayer and fasting.

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to grow closer to God. But even then, is it a liquid fast? Is it a 40-day fast like my buddy Bill Bright used to do even on into his 70s and 80s?

Is it a show, or is there something real going on there? Well, I'm with a pastor in his study, and Pastor Alan Holmes, Definition Church, you're on the Truth Network. We just heard you on the app while I was talking to you. I said, Pastor, I'm going to have to listen to this sermon.

Sorry, I can't talk to you. That was a cool moment, you have to admit. Yeah, it was kind of funny. We got a little picture. I'll try to post it. I'm listening to you on the app, talking to you on the Truth app, which is free, by the way.

You can hear them on there, too. But you just started today, something special. Tell us a little bit about that. Take us a little bit into fasting, the thought behind it, and why it can be very beneficial. And some folks, they hear the word fasting, and they run fast away from whatever they're listening to.

Right. Well, yeah, years ago, we as a church began fasting every January for 21 days, and really calling the church to prayer, trying to help our church learn to give the first portion of their day, the first portion of their year to the Lord. And fasting has been a big part of that.

And I think a discipline that's probably as needed in American culture as any other discipline, because in American culture, in all of our prosperity, we have so much, so much entertainment, so much comfort, so much overindulgence that often, that has robbed us of our hunger for God. You know, the average person doesn't wake up hungry to connect with God. Even if they connect with God, often they do it out of a sense of duty, rather than out of a place of hunger and desire. And I think fasting allows us to get in touch with that again. So fasting is laying aside something for a season in order to get in touch with our hunger, our appetite, and then directing that appetite towards God. It's so important to understand we don't fast in order to suffer and order points with God. You know, Jesus has already suffered for us. That's what the cross is about.

That's settled. But we do fast in order to feel again our appetite, our hunger, our craving, our desire, and then I want to direct that towards God. So one of the things that's true is God has created us with an appetite. And in some, Buddhism, for example, would say your appetite, your desire is bad. So the secret is you've got to kill your desire.

Well, that's ridiculous. Christianity says no, God's created us with desires. And what we've got to do is learn to find our satisfaction in Jesus.

So for example, Psalm 23 begins by saying the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want or I have all I need or I am content. So when we learn to follow Jesus, when we learn to feed on Jesus, then our soul finds satisfaction. Now here's what's so great about that is that when our soul is satisfied in Jesus, we can enjoy his gifts, his blessings, the other things in our life without being enslaved and destroyed by them. The things that's destroying so many American Christians is because we've not found contentment in Jesus.

We're trying to satisfy our discontentment and often blowing up our lives. So we've got to learn to find our contentment in Jesus. So when we fast, we set something aside. In fact, probably the best way to know that your fast is successful is when I fast, I'm full. So when I fast correctly, I've redirected my appetite towards God, and I'm learning to find satisfaction in him and in that connection. This is what Jesus meant in Matthew 4 for as he's coming out of a fast, and he says man doesn't live by bread alone, but every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

So when I lay, for example, when I lay food aside, that I want to give the time, like I just did in the last hour, I want to give the time that I would have normally spent eating, feeding my soul, so that I feel nourished. And that's what fasting is about. So fasting helps us, I think, to accomplish two big things. Number one, it helps us to keep God first in our hearts, because all of us, our heart has a tendency to drift. And whatever it drifts towards, I want to fast that for a season. In order to direct that hunger back to God, I want him to be first. I want to love the Lord my God with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul, with all my strengths.

I want him to be first in my life. In fact, when I fast, years ago I realized if I cut out food, but then I'm overindulgent in some other good thing, then I don't really get the benefit of the fast. So now, basically for a season, I cut out everything. So I cut out food, and I cut out hobbies, and I cut out entertainment.

My wife and I cut out intimacy during this time. And really, for three weeks, we are very, very focused on how do I connect with God, feed my soul, and really looking for spiritual renewal in my own heart and life. And the second big thing that fasting does is it prepares our heart for the new thing God wants to do. So you remember when the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus in Matthew 9 and said, Why don't your disciples fast? And Jesus says, Well, the bridegroom doesn't fast. The best man doesn't fast when he's got the bridegroom there. In other words, you don't fast when you're at a wedding.

When you're at a wedding, you celebrate, right? And he said, But once the bridegroom is gone, once Jesus is gone, then my disciples will fast. Because when Jesus leaves and our heart begins to drift, fasting brings us back, centers us on Jesus. And then he tells the story, the little metaphor, you know, of the patch and the cloth with a hole in it and the wines, the new and old wine skin. And what he says is if you put new wine in an old skin, because that skin is not flexible anymore, it's dried and it's got it's hardened because it's older as it tries to expand instead of expanding, it'll break.

And so then the wine is lost and the skin is destroyed. And what Jesus is saying is that when we fast, it gives us a new wine skin. When we fast, it softens our heart because for most of us, there are some areas in our life where we've not allowed God in. So maybe we've given Jesus control of 80 percent of our life, but we've kept this 20 percent.

What the fast does is the fasting opens the door to the 20 percent. The fasting brings me to the place where I'm saying, Jesus, I want you to have it all. And I'm preparing my heart to receive the new thing that God wants to do in my life. So as we begin this year, we want to prepare our hearts for the new thing God wants to do in 2023. And so that's basically how we're trying to help the whole church focus as we begin this year.

Let's begin with Jesus. Let's expect him to do something new. There's so many promises, right? If we draw near to him, he draws near to us. When we seek him, we find him.

We search for him with all of our heart. So many promises in scripture, if we'll come towards God, he's already coming towards us. So we try to help the church begin expecting God to do something new. And so we want to prepare to receive it, and fasting helps us do that.

I love it. That's Pastor Alan Holmes, and your church has gone through this or going through this right now. Fasting and prayer for the new year. Give us a quick baby steps.

We're out of time, but just real quickly, challenge. Maybe other pastors want to take their church through a little season of fasting. Or an individual.

Or just fasting maybe just for a day or two. Like, well, what's a good way to start into this? And what's the kind of prayerful heart approach we should have before the Lord in doing this?

Well, let me tell you a couple of resources. If you go to our website, Definition Church, if you go to our website, there is a guide to help you create a fast plan. It's all laid out there for you.

It makes it real simple. Yesterday, we challenged our church, if you haven't fasted before, to make a couple of very basic commitments. Number one, for 21 days, make a decision. The first thing I do every day is I'm going to connect with Jesus.

So that was first. Number two, our 21 days of prayer and fasting, we meet for prayer every morning from 6.30 to 7.30. So they can come and do it in person, or they can watch online. We've encouraged them. Come on, engage with us for the 21 days. Yeah, do this with us. We can take this journey together.

And so those were some simple steps. Of course, we told them about the resources online so they can build a plan and really take advantage of this moment. I love it. You can hear him on the Truth Network. You can hear him at his website. Give that website one more time for folks that want to check out this particular, how folks want to get on the fast track. What's that website again? It's Disdefinition Church. Google Definition Church. We're actually the only definition church in America. How about that? Which is one of the reasons why we picked that new name a couple of years ago.

But it's easy to find, and it's right there on the home page. Well, thanks for the encouragement, Pastor. And for everyone out there, this is a great way. Again, appetite. What are you hungry for? And this really reminds you quickly to join the psalmist who said, As a deer pants for water, so my soul longs for thee, O God. So often we have so many other things filling the departments and compartments of our life that we forget that our fundamental basic hunger would be, so maybe starve some things out a little bit in the new year, even a short-term fast, just to remind you of what we should really be hungry for. That's exactly right. That sounds great.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-11 20:37:33 / 2023-01-11 20:42:15 / 5

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