Saturday, September 12, 2015

Fasting and Prayer

by Ken Raggio

This is Chapter 17 from my book:

A distraught father came to Jesus because his young son had frequent, life-threatening seizures causing him at times to fall into water and even into a fire. The man had already taken the boy to Jesus’ disciples, but they could not cure him.

Jesus was sorely displeased with their failure and openly expressed His displeasure. Then He rebuked the devil in the boy, and the devil immediately departed from him. The child was instantly cured.
The disciples came to Jesus privately and asked, “Why could not we cast him out?”

His answer was straightforward. “Because of your unbelief.”

He lectured them briefly, telling them that faith – if only as small as a grain of mustard seed - could move a mountain.

But unbelief prevents miracles. Unbelief is the product of the carnal mind.

The carnal mind is enmity (hostility) against the mind of God (Romans 8:7). The Spirit of God says, “All things are possible,” but the carnal mind says, “It cannot be done.” The mind of God says one thing, but the carnal mind contradicts it.

When Jesus told the Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil”(John 8:44), He was speaking of their carnal minds.

Satan is the father of carnal thinking. Satan perverted the pure minds of Adam and Eve in the Garden by planting thoughts into their heads that were lies - contrary to the mind of God. Before Satan did that, Adam had never had a thought contrary to the mind of God.

In that instant, Satan became the father of the carnal mind. Since that time, men have continued to think contrary to the mind of God.

All carnality is hostile to faith.

“It is the Spirit that quickeneth [gives life]; the flesh profiteth nothing.” John 6:63

Therefore, if you want to see the will of God accomplished, you must absolutely SUBDUE your carnal mind. Your carnal thoughts MUST be totally overruled if you want to see the glory of God.

You cannot think according to the carnal mind and see the glory of God. It is impossible. The flesh profiteth NOTHING.

Your flesh can ONLY doubt God.

“They that are in the flesh CANNOT please God.” Romans 8:8

“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. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Romans 8:12-14

We must MORTIFY the deeds of the body in order to see the life of God working freely in our lives.
MORTIFY means to put to death, kill.

That is what FASTING is all about. Fasting is about crucifying the flesh. Fasting is ONE of the many ways that we go about crucifying the flesh. Fasting is one of the CURES for unbelief.

Consider this. The ORIGINAL SIN committed by Adam and Eve was an out-of-control appetite. God had clearly commanded Adam not to eat the forbidden fruit. Naturally, THAT was the one single thing that Satan desperately wanted them to do.

Satan appealed to the appetites of their flesh, and won. As a result, sin came into the world. That is the most ominous five words that can be uttered – “Sin came into the world.” Think about it.
Sin came into the world because Adam and Eve did not control their appetites.

Like it or not, your fleshly appetites are the most hostile enemies against God. If we did not so freely yield to the desires of our flesh, we could do the will of God. But therein lies the problem.

SIN occurs when our carnal appetites overrule the will of God.

We do not restrain the flesh as we should, so it characteristically betrays God. Satan has made it his permanent business to tempt and tease all your carnal appetites until the day you die.

Now, let’s get back to the story of the demon-possessed boy.

After telling them that their UNBELIEF had prevented the boy from having a miracle, Jesus told the disciples:

“Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:21
You cannot cast out devils with the carnal mind. The carnal mind is allied with the Devil. It descends from its father the Devil. Your carnal mind is itself the child of the Devil.

You must always distinguish between the carnal mind and the mind of the Spirit. Every thought and every act you ever commit will fall into one of those two categories. It will either be carnal or spiritual.

The difference between that which is carnal and that which is spiritual is determined by its obedience or conformity to the Word and will of God.

If your lifestyle conforms to the image of the Son, by being mindful and obedient to the will of God, then you are walking in the Spirit. Paul said,

“Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16

As long as your thinking and living does not contradict the mind of God, you are on safe ground. Anytime your behavior contradicts the Word, you are on carnal, sinful ground.

“The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: these are contrary to one another.” Galatians 5:17

Therefore, if we are to do the will of God, we must conquer our flesh. We must attain to the mastery of our flesh. That does not suggest that the flesh can be permanently subdued. Paul said, “I die daily,”1 Corinthians 15:31.

It is a perpetual, ongoing effort. Every morning that you wake up, you must face another day of warfare with your carnal mind. Every day, you must master that devilish contrary will.

That is where FASTING comes in. Fasting is at the top of the list of weapons we can and must use to subdue the lusts of the flesh.

Fasting addresses the problem of proud flesh. When we deprive our bodies of food for a time, it naturally weakens the flesh. When we accompany our fast with PRAYER, our spiritual man is strengthened.

Fasting puts down the flesh. Prayer lifts up the Spirit.
But there is more to fasting than meets the eye. Any Christian who has any real experience with fasting and prayer can tell you that there is something very supernatural about fasting and prayer. Fasting indeed has a supernatural effect on your life. Fasting breaks yokes.

I began the practice of fasting and prayer when I was a teenager. In the past forty-five years or so, I have spent countless days in fasting and prayer. And I have seen miraculous results again and again and again.

From my school days, I learned that any time I faced a major decision or a crisis of some kind, it was time to fast and pray. It was following fasting and prayer that some of the first ministry opportunities opened up to me. It was following fasting and prayer that I received direction to attend Bible college.
While at Bible college, I committed to a three-day fasting and prayer vigil during which I received an answer from God about my specific calling. I
could write another book simply about my own experiences in fasting and prayer.

After Bible college, I took a permanent position on the staff of a large Church. Every Tuesday and Thursday was a designated fast day for the entire Church. Everyone was called to fast until 3 PM every Tuesday and Thursday. Then, every year, the entire Church was called to a 30-day fast during the month of October. The Pastor, myself, and many of the other members of the congregation joined in that 30-day fast. During that time, we ate no solid foods. We only drank liquids like water, tea, coffee, orange juice, or other low-calorie drinks.

The results were measurable. We saw countless miracles, signs and wonders, as well as large numbers of people receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

One notable miracle which I will never forget occurred in 1972, in a special Sunday service following a time of Church-wide fasting and prayer.

An elderly lady came for prayer. Her vision was failing. She had lost an eyeball many years earlier to a disease. The doctors had removed the eyeball from its socket. She only had one eye to see with, and vision in that eye was beginning to fail. She came for prayer and a miracle.

I was sitting at the grand piano when she came across the platform to be prayed for. I was no more than fifteen feet away from her as she stood for prayer. Suddenly, she began to worship loudly. She declared that she could see.

At first, nobody realized what was happening. Then she explained, “I can see out of my right eye!!” That was preposterous. She had no eyeball in her right socket. But she reached down and took a Bible off the pulpit. She opened it up and began reading it aloud. It didn’t make any sense.

The Pastor asked her, “Are you seeing out of your socket?” She said, “Yes!” He placed his hand completely across her left eye, and about 600 people witnessed this lady reading about a dozen verses from the Bible with an empty eye socket!

I know it sounds incredulous, but I saw it with my own eyes.

If I tell you that I believe in miracles - believe me.

Fasting breaks yokes. Jesus said, “This kind goeth not out but by fasting and prayer.”

Fasting has a supernatural effect in the spirit world. Demons are dealt a crippling blow when we fast.

I have two theories which I cannot prove, but I believe they are true.

1. Fasting precipitates divine retribution.

I believe that because Adam and Eve sinned by yielding to their physical appetite (eating the forbidden fruit), as an act of retribution, God honors the man or the woman who FASTS. God responds to fasting and prayer by manifesting His supernatural power.

In other words, since the ORIGINAL SIN was OUT-OF-CONTROL EATING, God appears to show respect to the person who DENIES HIS APPETITE to do the will of God, by granting supernatural power against his adversaries. Fasting inspires God to miraculously intervene in behalf of the one who fasts and prays.

2. Fasting reduces Satan’s access to our carnal desires.

Satan leads us into sin by appealing to our physical appetites (lusts). But when we fast (deny or mortify our flesh) those temptations fail. Unclean spirits cannot accomplish their evil schemes. God miraculously intervenes when a believer sacrifices his appetite to the will and purpose of God.
Unclean spirits are frustrated and defeated.

That makes sense to me. And I think it is true.

For that reason, I continue to practice fasting and prayer. I have seen supernatural things happen at the end of the first day of a fast. At other times, I have fasted three days, ten days, 21 days, 30-days, and once, I even fasted 40 days. You can say whatever you want, but I have seen God intervene in the most amazing ways as a result of fasting and prayer.

Consider these Biblical examples of fasting:

When Moses fasted forty days, he came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments.
When rebel enemies rose up against him, God opened the earth and swallowed them alive.

Again, Moses fasted forty days, and prevailed with God not to destroy Israel for worshiping the golden calf.

Elijah fasted for forty days after his grueling ordeal with Ahab, Jezebel, and hundreds of false prophets. Afterward, the still, small voice of God spoke to him and told him to go to Damascus and anoint Hazael as the next King of Syria, anoint Jehu as the next King of Israel, and Elisha as the prophet in his room - quite an outcome for a forty-day fast. Two kings and a prophet came from that fast.

Daniel fasted and prayed twenty-one days, after which the angel Gabriel visited him and showed him epic prophecies pertaining to the Last Days.

Jesus fasted forty days in the wilderness. He overcame Satan himself in a great victory, and that launched the greatest ministry ever known.

Cornelius was the first Gentile upon which the Holy Ghost fell. An angel of the Lord appeared to him WHILE HE WAS FASTING AND PRAYING, and instructed him to call for Simon Peter, who came and showed him the way of salvation. Cornelius’ fast opened the door to the Gentile Church.

After the Church at Antioch engaged in a period of fasting and prayer, God ordered them to lay hands and Barnabas and Saul and send them into the missionary work. Paul’s great ministry began at the conclusion of a corporate fast.

You cannot imagine how God will respond when you commit yourself to a season of fasting and prayer.

There is nothing complicated about a fast. Just do it, and see what God will do. One day. Three days. Ten days. Whatever. Just obey your heart, and God will honor it.

“Prayer is reaching out after the unseen;
fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal.
Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that
we are ready to sacrifice anything,
even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”
Andrew Murray 1828-1917
“When the saint ceases to seek after holiness, purity, righteousness, truth;
when he ceases to pray, stops reading the Word
and gives way to carnal appetites, then it is that Satan comes.”
Smith Wigglesworth 1859-1947

This is Chapter 17 from my book:

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