Preparing to teach on Matthew 2 very soon and came across this song from the year 1534 called the Coventry Carol about the Massacre of the innocents. Quite haunting. I cannot imagine the pain that the people of Bethlehem felt. Maybe similar to the 150 Christians butchered in South Kaduna last night. link to news about Kaduna massacre
Tonight at 9pm our 40 days of prayer and fasting for Pensacola comes to an end. We know that prayer with fasting is designed to set captives free from a life of bondage and sin (see Isaiah 58) Fasting is further designed as a tool to combat injustice. As we close out this season we are confident that God has heard our prayers. We are confident that good change will be coming to our city. Thank you for being a part of this event. Joe Miller
We are down to the last week of our "40 days" of prayer and fasting for the city of Pensacola. We continue to look at the biblical reasons why fasting is important. Today we are looking at three very specific promises to us. When you fast in a biblical way (fasting for others to be set free) God pays us back in a very real and specific way. We are still in Isaiah 58.
A benefit of fasting is that God will satisfy your soul in a time of drought. Isaiah 58:11 And satisfy your soul in drought Droughts come when the rain stops. There are many times in the bible when drought came to Israel. The most well known drought was in the times of Jacob. He sent his sons to Egypt and they ran into their brother Joseph. Droughts are an inevitable part of our Christian life and our natural life. For example, losing your job will create immediate drought in your life but God’s promise to a person of fasting is that their soul will be satisfied.
Fasting will strengthen your bones. Isaiah 58:11 And strengthen your bone This is a very specific promise for those that feel week and tired. Those that have bones that are creaking. Those that feel pain. Even those that may suffer from osteoporosis.
Fasting will keep you refreshed. Isaiah 58:11You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. A watered garden is green and full of life. This is a continuation of the promise that he will satisfy us in a drought. Those around you may be brown and wilting but you will be flourishing.
We continue our study on fasting. This is reason 21-23. On a side note, today we are fasting for the abortion clinic in Pensacola to shut down. We have seen God supernaturally close one clinic already in our city since "40 days" has started. We will continue to pray until the other one shuts down. God can never fully bless a city as long as abortion is allowed. We will continue to pray and fast in a very peaceful way and allow God to supernaturally intervene.
Fasting will teach us to cover the naked. Isaiah 58:7 when you see the naked, to clothe them. We don’t always notice that the poor are missing winter coats. We don’t notice that the poor don’t have clean socks or that they have shoes with holes in them. Fasting will help us to pay attention. When we pray for the homeless we become aware of their plight.
Fasting will teach us to help our family. Isaiah 58:7 and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? So many times we don’t want to help our own family. We avoid the cousin who borrowed $1000.00 years ago and is still broke. We don’t want him to ask for more money. We avoid the uncle that struggles with alcoholism, the one that always gets drunk at family parties. Fasting will give us the power to create a solution.
Fasting will create the promise that God will guide us. Isaiah 58:11The Lord will guide you always. Fasting is usually directed to the needs of other but it is good to know that God has a reward for those that fast with the right priorities. He will guide our steps. He will take us in the right direction. I have noticed that because of all the fasting I have done for this city, most of my personal problems are taken care of. Very seldom do I have difficulty in understanding where God is guiding my family or my business.
We continue to look at 40 reasons to fast. We pray that your time of prayer and fasting for the city of Pensacola is going well.
The fourth step of Isaiah 58:6 tells us that fasting breaks the yoke. Isaiah 58:6 “… to break every yoke.” A yoke is a piece of wood put on an ox to control his direction and use him for plowing the field. This is an analogy of slavery and a burden. No one wants to spend their life under the hand of a taskmaster controlling your life and making you go where they want you go. Fasting will break the yoke put upon us by the devil. Some common yokes are drug addiction, pornography, smoking and alcohol addiction.
Fasting will teach us to share our food with the hungry. Isaiah 58:7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry. When we fast we have extra food that we can share. The money we would have spent for breakfast, lunch or dinner can be given to the poor and homeless. We start to pay attention to the poor more than ever before. We notice the guy on the corner asking for loose change. We can buy him a sandwich.
Fasting will teach us to provide shelter for the homeless. Isaiah 58:7 to provide the poor wanderer with shelter. Fasting opens our eyes to the needs of the city. We begin to think about the poor that live in the woods. Recently there has been much news about Pensacola laws that make it illegal for anyone to sleep under newspapers or blanket outdoors. Thankfully the city council just changed this law. Link to PNJ article
Today we are praying against hurricanes. (no. Not the Miami team) We are praying that Pensacola doesn't get hit by a real hurricane. I think most of us remember the damage of Ivan. We lost power for about two weeks. The national guard put this city on lock down. We had a curfew and weren't allowed to drive at night. It took years for the damage to be fixed. Since P4P started in 2007 we have made praying against hurricanes a core part of our prayer of protection over this city. We know that Jesus has the power to calm the storm.
Mark 4: 35-41 "That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
I remember being in Costa Rica on two separate occasions. Once we were in the rain forest where it rained every day. The problem was that an outdoor crusade had been planned. As a team, we got together and prayed for the rain to stop for our crusade. Lo and behold there was no rain that evening. The crusade went as planned and many were saved, including a young boy who was so excited that the next day he brought his whole family to the church and they all became Christians.
A few years after that, my wife and I were leading a team in the capitol city of San Jose. We had planned to do drama presentations in the city square as a way to evangelize. Once again, it was raining and raining. We got together, spoke to the winds and prayed for sunshine. Within minutes, everything stopped and we were able to present the gospel to the people of San Jose, Costa Rica.
As we pray against hurricanes today remember that you have the same authority to control the winds, waves and storms as Jesus did. He said, "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." (john 14:12-14)
Why do we pray against hurricanes? Because hurricanes can be classified as the work of the devil. John 10:10 says the enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy. That is exactly what a hurricane does.
I pray that your time of fasting and prayer continues to go well. Do not be surprised if things get difficult during these 40 days. I have found that the devil does not like us praying and fasting for Pensacola. He will do his best to stop you. So do not get discouraged. Keep pressing on.
We continue our study on 40 biblical reasons for fasting. Today, we are on reason 15-17. We will begin to look at Isaiah 58. This is the most informative biblical passage on why we fast food. God explicitly states that fasting has a purpose.
Fasting is God’s way to loosen bonds of wickedness. Isaiah 58:6 “Isthis not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness." There are strongholds that hold people, cities, regions and countries in bondage. Fasting loosens the bonds that hold people captive. These bonds of wickedness could be religions (Islam), cults (Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons) mindsets (liberal, pro-abortion), worldview (atheism, secular), addictions or emotions (depression) Fasting will begin to loosen these bonds that attach themselves to minds. I am reminded of Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Our fasting allows us to fight a more deliberate battle.
After loosening the bonds of wickedness fasting will then undo the heavy burdens. Isaiah 58:6 To undo the heavy burdens. God considers us burdened when wickedness holds us down. People are held down with depression, heaviness, struggles, poverty, and incorrect worldviews, etc. This is the second step of a biblical fast. One to loosen and two to undo (remove)
The third step, fasting will then set the captive free. Isaiah 58:6 To let the oppressed go free. Fasting will set the captive free from the burdens spoken about in the prior two points. Freedom from incorrect worldviews, freedom from addictions, freedom from various struggles and freedom from sickness such as cancer.
Today we start our "40 days" of prayer and fasting at 9pm CST. Thank you for being a part of praying and fasting for Pensacola and Escambia County. We can be assured that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
Today as I was sitting in church I was thinking about something my son has done the past two years for "40 days" In addition to praying for the city he makes a commitment to fast 30 meals in 40 days. He was only 12 when he first did this. But he writes a list of numbers 1-30 and then marks them off one at a time as he skips meals. Many people have a difficult time fasting and I thought this was an ingenious way to incorporate fasting into our prayer lives. I think this may help someone reading today.
I have been blogging about the benefits of fasting now for six years. If you have any questions about fasting just scroll backwards for some good information. I can sum up the reasons to fast for our city with just three words. The three words that Jesus said in Matthew 6. "When you fast......" He didn't say if you fast. He said "when you fast".
Here is picture of his 2012 list from my instagram account.
We are spending some time looking at biblical reasons to fast food. Fasting food (not eating) is a spiritual principle designed by God to create change in our lives and the people that we pray for. King David fasted with prayer on a regular basis. The following psalms give us insight into his life...
We can fast when others are sick. Psalm 35:13 But as for me, when they were sick, My clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; And my prayer would return to my own heart. When others are sick we can fast for them. King David had a heart after God and he considered fasting for his friends a priority. (even if they did not return the favor)
We can fast when we are overwhelmed with problems. Psalm 69:10 Shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my brothers, And an alien to my mother’s children; Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting, That became my reproach. I also made sackcloth my garment; King David was feeling very overwhelmed in this psalm. He is pouring out his hurts, shame and depression to God. Fasting was a part of his healing process. He fasted and wept before the Lord seeking His help. This is something that we should take to heart. When you feel overwhelmed with depression and sin, begin to fast and pour your heart out to God.
Furthermore, we can fast when we are feeling poor and needy, when your heart feels hurt and betrayed. Psalm 109:24 But You, O GOD the Lord, Deal with me for Your name’s sake; Because Your mercy is good, deliver me. For I am poor and needy, And my heart is wounded within me. I am gone like a shadow when it lengthens; I am shaken off like a locust. My knees are weak through fasting, And my flesh is feeble from lack of fatness. I also have become a reproach to them; When they look at me, they shake their heads. Fasting is a way to work through pain and betrayal. The psalmist’s heart was wounded. Fasting was a way to work through the pain.