Friday, July 22, 2005

A Place of Enclosure

“Then the LORD God took the man and
put him into the garden of Eden
to cultivate it and keep it.”
(Genesis 2:15)

The Lord God took Adam and put him in the garden of Eden. In other words, Adam was enclosed in the place of God’s pleasure and delight.[1] It is interesting to note here that God always surrounds those in whom He takes pleasure and finds delight. This is essential that we understand. As stated in the introduction, there is no greater weapon than intimacy with Christ. It is our intimacy that helps to keep us walking in Truth. It is out of this intimacy that all of the issues of life are meant to flow. So foundationally, it is necessary that we gain a proper understanding of the posture of God and His heart towards us. The reality of God’s endless love was to shape Adam’s very existence and identity. It should be no different for us today.

[1] Eden is the Hebrew word ay’-den. It means, “pleasure,” “delight” and “luxury.” Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon 5731.

Garden is the Hebrew word gan. Gan is “an enclosed place.” It is a “place surrounded” and “defended.” Adam was surrounded by pleasure and delight. Ibid., ref. no. 1588. He was a delight and pleasure to God and God. “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good (exceedingly pleasing and beneficial)” (Gen. 1:31).

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

God, man and a puppy

God created Adam for the very purpose of finding pleasure in his union with the Creator of the universe. Before Adam was given any assignment, role or responsibility, he was put in a place conducive for intimacy with the Almighty.

“The LORD God took Adam
and placed him in the garden of Eden.”

(Genesis 2:15 )

It was out of this intimacy that Adam was to serve. All of his daily activities were to be fueled by this common-union.

This original common-union is one of the most vivid pictures of love. Love, was to be the primary expression of Adam’s existence. Love towards God and love towards His creation. Love towards God was to simply be expressed by a drawing near to the ever-present union of the spirit. Centuries later, James would exhort followers of Christ to “draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). Adam knew this first hand.

This continuous drawing near can be illustrated by looking at a young puppy. Have you ever seen a young puppy? As soon as it sees you, hears you or even smells you – it comes running. Its first expression upon drawing near to you is to give you a big kiss, or shall we say lick. Interestingly enough, this is the same word picture the New Testament gives us for worship. It comes from the Greek word proskuneo, which means “to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand” and “to lean towards and kiss one’s hand in token of reverence.”[1] In other words, as Adam was placed in the place of God’s pleasure and delight, worship flowed as a natural response. It becomes quite fascinating, when we look at what Adam was put in the garden to do.

As Adam walked with God, he was to “cultivate” and “keep” where he had been placed. Adam’s response-ability was two-fold: to cultivate and to keep. First, Adam was appointed to cultivate the garden. Cultivate is the Hebrew ‘abad, which means, “to till, servant, work, worshipper, service, labour, to work for another, to serve another by labour.”[2] For Adam, serving, working and worshipping were all to be one and the same. Just as the Hebrew word for cultivate carries the idea of serving and worshipping being intertwined, the same is true of the New Testament Greek word for latris.[3] Nonetheless, God commissioned Adam to be a worshipping servant.

Secondly, Adam was authorized to keep the garden. Keep is the Hebrew word shamar, which means, “to keep, watch, preserve, attend, being careful, beware, bodyguard, defending, diligently keep, and giving heed.” It carries the idea of a “doorkeeper, gatekeeper, a guard, guardsmen, a sentry standing vigilantly to keep watch, securing the place for protection.”[4]

Adam had been given much. Adam, the master gardener, had been given an assignment from God to diligently guard all that he had been given. Often one of the things a gardener would watch for and keep out of the garden would be a serpent. This is the very first beast that subtlety slithered into Adam’s garden. In doing so, the serpent swayed Adam’s affections away from God. The results, as we will see in later chapters, were very costly.

In First Things First, A. Roger Merrill tells of a business consultant who decided to landscape his grounds. He hired a woman with a doctorate in horticulture who was extremely knowledgeable. Because the business consultant was very busy and traveled a lot, he kept emphasizing to her the need to create his garden in a way that would require little or no maintenance on his part. He insisted on automatic sprinklers and other labor-saving devices. Finally she stopped and said, “There’s one thing you need to deal with before we go any further. If there’s no gardener, there’s no garden!”[5]

Many Christians are like this business consultant, desiring to have a garden of spiritual life, without having to cultivate and keep the garden. Without a gardener there is no garden. Likewise, without cultivation and active keeping there is no growth in the spiritual life of the disciple. How often do we Christians wish we could set up automatic “spiritual sprinklers” to water our gardens? How often do we wish there was an automatic “pruning” process, that didn’t require the effort of surrendering our self-love? As it is with gardening, there is no Christianity without the ever-present active Gardener.

Adam was usurped by the craftiness of the serpent. We must heed God’s lesson from this account and not be caught unaware. We must maintain an attitude that is alert and watchful. We must know what we are watching for to effectively watch. Our senses must be spiritually trained to discern.

“But solid food belongs to those who are of full age,
that is, those who by reason of use
have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

(Hebrews 5:14)

[1] New Testament Greek Lexicon 4352. (pros-koo-neh’-o).
[2] Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon, (‘abad – 5647) (aw-bad’)
[3] New Testament Greek Lexicon 3000 (lat-ryoo’-o). There is another Greek word that carries both the meaning to serve and minister. It is diakonia (dee-ak-on-ee’-ah – Ibid. ref. no. 1248). Today we often glamourize the ministry and look down upon serving as if it’s second class. In other words, we esteem the preacher, who lines people up for prayer and think less of the guy in the sound booth merely serving. Yet, in the New Testament, it was one’s willingness to serve that qualified them to minister, not simply their ability to communicate and captivate the crowds. Diakonia means, “ministry, ministration, ministering.” “service, ministering, esp. of those who execute the commands of others,” “of those who by the command of God proclaim and promote religion among men,” “of the office of the apostles and its administration,” “of the office of prophets, evangelists, elders etc.,” “the ministration of those who render to others the offices of Christian affection esp. those who help meet need by either collecting or distributing of charities,” “the service of those who prepare and present food,” “to attend to anything, that may serve another’s interests,” “to minister a thing to one, to serve one or by supplying any thing.” This word is used to describe both functions in Acts 6. “And the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve (diakoneo) tables” (Acts 6:2). “But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and the ministry (diakoneo) of the word.” (Acts 6:4).
[4] Strongs Exhaustive, 8104, shamar (shaw-mar’).
[5] Edward K. Rowell, Fresh Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1997), p. 146.

Monday, July 18, 2005

the inward music

Man was intended to hear what Boris Pasternak called “the inward music” of our belovedness. In the book, A Traveler Toward the Dawn, John Eagan describes an encounter he has with his spiritual director on the sixth day on his annual, silent eight-day retreat, “John, the heart of it is this: to make the Lord and his immense love for you constitutive of your personal worth. Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. God’s love for you and his choice of you constitutive your worth. Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life.”[1] “Who am I?” asked Merton, and he responded, “I am one loved by Christ.”[2]

There is passage that illustrates God’s heart towards His people. This passage refers specifically to the name Jacob. Throughout the Old Testament, the name Jacob is a common poetic synonym for Israel. This description is no less true of the New Covenant believer. Tucked away in the book of Deuteronomy we read,

“10-He found him in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. 11-As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings, 12-so the LORD alone led him,
and there was no foreign god with him.”
(Deuteronomy 32:10-12)

What a picture of the heart of God for His people. This was His posture toward the children of Israel. The New Testament writers, searching for words sufficient enough to express God’s passionate and redemptive pursuit of man through the death and resurrection of His Son, could find no better word than grace. To understand the power of these verses as it relates to God’s love for mankind, here is my expanded interpretation of Deuteronomy 32:10-12. I have personalized these verses, as God would speak them to the New Covenant Chrisitan.

The Lord looked and saw man – lost, empty and wandering through a trackless wilderness. Living in a place outside of reality, void of meaning and purpose. Consumed by confusion, desolation, even losing the form of the original intent for which he had been designed. The Lord came to him in this place – the place where death had been spoken claim over him. The Lord came into his very presence, acquired him, delivered him and secured him. In doing so, man became the Lord’s very own possession once again. Change, complete change occurred turning man from the captivity of his wanderings. The Lord surrounded him, established him firmly and gave him a compass, directing his way. Moreover, the Lord instructed man, gave him understanding and distinguished him from all the rest. The Lord now stands by him as a booted warrior, ready to trample all those who would oppose. Man has become the affection of His heart. Even as one greatly cherishes and diligently protects the pupil of their eye, sensitive to every affliction, so the Lord responds the same way to those who are His. As an eagle stirs up its nest, fluttering over her brood to excite and teach them to fly, so the Lord will teach you to live in the places that He has called you to. As the eagle broods over her young, communicating to them a portion of her own vital warmth: so does the Lord, by the influences of His Spirit, enlighten, encourage, and strengthen your minds for activity. As the eagle would spread abroad her wings, not only to teach them how to fly, but to bear them on her back when weary, so the Lord will sustain you. As the eagle, through extraordinary affection for her young, takes them upon her back when they are weary of flying, so that the archers cannot injure them but by piercing the body of the mother, so the Lord has been pierced for you and will continue to surround you with protection. Don’t be mistaken, it is the Lord alone who has brought you out, sustained you and now ever presently guides you.
There is no other hand, no other means, no other god.

It is essential that our theology about God and His posture toward mankind be accurate. We must see Him as the loving Father that He truly is. We will soon look at the role and responsibility that God gave man, however all of that was laid upon the foundation of His sovereign love.

God created Adam for the very purpose of finding pleasure in his union with the Creator of the universe. Before Adam was given any assignment, role or responsibility, he was put in a place conducive for intimacy with the Almighty. “The LORD God took Adam and placed him in the garden of Eden.” (Genesis 2:15 italics mine). It was out of this intimacy that Adam was to serve. All of his daily activities were to be fueled by this common-union.

This original common-union is one of the most vivid pictures of love. Love, was to be the primary expression of Adam’s existence. Love towards God and love towards His creation. Love towards God was to simply be expressed by a drawing near to the ever-present union of the spirit. Centuries later, James would exhort followers of Christ to “draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). Adam knew this first hand.

[1] John Eagan, A Traveler Toward the Dawn (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1990), p. xii.
[2] Thomas Merton, quoted by James Finley, Merton’s Palace of Nowhere (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1978), p. 71.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Meditation in Motion

Here are a couple of ideas to get to your meditation in motion...

During the week try and find time (about 20-30 mins.) to practice meditation. You may find it helpful to follow these guidelines:

Open your Bible to the chosen Bible reading. Leave it open in front of you.

Enter into God's presence in prayer, asking that His Spirit will bring His word to life for you.

  • Slow down. Consciously slow down your breathing; breathe deeper, more gently, invite the Holy Spirit into your life. With every deep breath in say, "I breathe in the Holy Spirit", with every deep breath out say, "I breath out the Love of God". Allow the Holy Spirit to penetrate every part of your being. Picture that happening.
  • Now read the scripture passage slowly. (Do not analyze or study it.)
    Allow the Holy Spirit to teach you what He wants.
  • When a word or phrase "lights up" or "rings a bell", put your bible down. Concentrate on God's word to you by repeating it (gently, not mechanically). Do not force any response/emotion; allow the Holy Spirit to work.
  • As you become aware of the impression (feeling/attitude) God's word has made on you, respond to God in prayer, or in silence if you wish. Be with Christ, bask in His love.
  • As distractions set in, close your prayer off in whatever way you want (you may wish to say the Lord's Prayer).

A couple of passages that are good to ruminate on...

Passage Focus
Luke 10: 38-42 Listening to God in the quiet
Acts 10 :1-27 Listening to God through visions
Acts 8: 1-6, 26-40 Listening to God through an inner voice
Psalm 95 Extol Him!
Jeremiah 18: 1-12 Listening to God in our world
James 1: 22-27 Listen and Obey
John 12: 20 -36 The desert man

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Lectio Divina

This past March I spent three days in a monastery in Michigan for a little solitude, silence, prayer, and reflective-meditation. It was an awesome three days... On the third day, I was leaving the dining area having just finished breakfast. Just next to the dining area is the monastery's library. I thought I would take a few moments and peruse aroiund and see what type of books they had etc. As I was poking around, I came across a book that caught my attention. It was entitled The Rule of Benedict for Beginners: Spirituality for Daily Life. It was a guide to monastic living according to the St. Benedictine Rule. Humm... interesting, I thought to myself.

So, I picked it up, checked it out for the day, and headed back to my room. A little later in the morning I picked it up and began to leaf through it. I came to a chapter that I found pretty inspiring. The chapther was "Lectio Divina" or sometimes called "spiritual reading." Some of the things I had been experiencing in my time with God in Scripture were outlined here in this little book. A practice of spiritual reading (lectio divina) that has been practiced for centuries. Nevertheless, enough about me... below is some excerpts from that chapter... hope you find them inspiring and thought-provoking as well.

Lectio divina is the exact opposite of the diagonal scanning of text with a green marker, to quickly highlight the keywords and main points that might be important for a negotiation session or for a meeting. After that you may forget them again. The spiritual reading Benedict prescribes for his monks was intended in the old monasteries, among other things, to be learned by heart. The lectio divina is about a very slow reading of a text, preferably aloud, that the words may really be mouthed and tasted. This is reading til a word of phrase touches you, till you listen to something that as it were sticks to you. This word or phrase is then repeated aloud, regurgitated, as it were. The Latin term for this process is rumination – simply what you see cows doing in a quiet place, preparing the product of the first digestive process of the following phase in the transformation of grass into milk. During intervening moments this word of phrase is unpacked: what does it say to me? What touches me in this reading? Why does it touch me? What might it mean within my context? How might I fruitfully respond to it? This is about as it were to tap the text from all sides and to listen to it with the stethoscope – not because of voluntary interest, but so that I might give an adequate response to it. With the rumination we try to press a maximum of nutritional juices out of a piece of text. Then we keep reading slowly, til we suspect we have landed again on something nutritional.

This transformation process has a double significance: the text is transformed – because it is brought over and “translated” into my context; and I, the reader, am changed. Sometimes a text can open up so unexpectedly that an inward vista shows itself in which you as it were keep “hanging” for a while. Monastic literature mentions the four phases or steps of the lectio divina: the lectio, the meditation, the oratorio (prayer), and the contemplation. Translated: do a slow reading til you are tripped, with repetition and association, responding, open-mouthed, gratefully looking into the depth or into the distance.

These four phases of increasing deepening are, of course, not always experienced by any means. Often we experience just staying in the course in lectio and meditation. Those are also the only phases we can work on. Whether a word or phrase speaks to you in a manner that a hearty response may be given remains to be seen (a monk once defined his prayer meditation as “sitting and waiting”). One cannot organize unexpected vistas. Moreover, a text may contain some thistles. A text may be nicely locked up, but the reader may as well. “That text says nothing to me (yet),” will often be the reaction. Benedict would say: “Did you listen attentively enough? Did you use your stethoscope? Did you only hear noise?”

The persistent attitude of reading and meditation with the lectio divina reminds us of the triad of first sentence of the Rule: listen attentively, agree heartily, give a realistic response. One can also recognize the three vows in it: stabilitas, quietly persisting; conversion morum, transformation; and obedientia, listening.

Will Derkse, The Rule of Benedict for Beginners: Spirituality for Daily Life (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press), p. 37-38.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Seeds of Contemplation

"Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of invisible and visible winged seeds, so the stream of time brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptible in the minds and wills of men.
Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost,
because men are not prepared to receive them."
(Thomas Merton, Seeds of Contemplation)

In his book, The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer describes how the Holy Spirit germinates the Word of God in our hearts, then grows it, first the blade, then the ear, then the full ear.

"It is important that we get still to wait on God. And it is best that we get alone, preferable with our Bible outspread before us. Then if we will we may draw near to God and begin to hear Him speak to us in our hearts. I think for the average person the progression will be something like this: First a sound as of a Presence walking in the garden. Then a voice, more intelligible, but still far from clear. Then the happy moment when the Spirit begins to illuminate the Scriptures, and that which had been only a sound, or at best a voice, now becomes an intelligible word, warm and intimate and clear as the word of a dear friend."

Monday, July 11, 2005


“Reading without meditation is arid,
meditation without reading is erroneous;
prayer without meditation is tepid,
meditation without prayer is fruitless.”
(Guigo, The Ladder of Monks: 12th-century manual of spiritual)
“Those who have abandoned themselves to God always lead mysterious lives and receive from him exceptional and miraculous gifts by means of the most ordinary, natural and chance experiences in which there appears to be nothing unusual. The simplest sermon, the most banal conversations, the least erudite books become a source of knowledge and wisdom to these souls by virtue of God’s purpose. This is why they carefully pick up the crumbs which clever minds tread under foot, for to them everything is precious and a source of enrichment.”
The Sacrament of the Present Moment

Much of what is sacred is hidden in the ordinary, everyday moments of our lives. To see something of the sacred in those moments takes slowing down so we can live our lives more reflectively.
The word reflect comes from two Latin words: re, meaning “back,” and flectere, meaning “to bend.” To reflect, then, is to bend back something, like the way a mirror bends back an image, providing an opportunity for a closer look. Living, and in this case, reading reflectively provides opportunities during our day for a closer look at things, at people, at ourselves, and at God. The faster the pace of our life, though, the more we will miss those opportunities.

Therefore, it is essential that we take pauses. Pauses create spaces in reader’s heart so the words the writer has written have room to live. The space we give words – whether those words are the text of Scripture or the texts of our daily lives – allows them a place to live in our hearts. Without creating spaces of time in our lives, we stunt whatever growth the words were meant to produce.
Believers throughout the Bible were used to putting pauses into their lives. They structured pauses such as set times for daily prayers, strict observances for weekly Sabbaths, and holy days that punctuated the year, such as Passover and Yom Kippur. This habit of structuring pauses made it easier for them to take spontaneous pauses during the day, which is so essential for living a reflective life.
If we stop reading and don’t pause or reflect, how can our hearts have a chance to respond to what is written, to be touched by it in some way, or to be softened by it, even broken by it?
The pauses give resonance to the words, giving them a place to live in our heart. That is why it’s important to schedule pauses into our day. A busy schedule crowds out those pauses. When life pressures us to put as much as we can into a day, we start reducing the type, combining paragraphs, editing out the spaces, eliminating the margins. And after a while, we simply stop reading.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Biblical Examples of Prayer & Fasting

Biblical Examples of Prayer & Fasting
Collected and Summarized by Lora Miller

1 Samuel 7:6 - Samuel judges Israel and tells them to turn from idol worship. The Children of Israel gather at Mizpah and pray and fast as an act of repentance.
1 Kings 21:17-29 - Elijah is sent by the Lord to Ahab, King of Israel, to condemn him for murdering Naboth and stealing his vineyard. When Ahab heard these words of condemnation, he fasted and lay in sackcloth. The Lord then spoke to Elijah to go to Ahab and tell him that since he had humbled himself in the sight of the Lord, the calamity would not come in his days but in the days of his son.
2 Chronicles 20:3 - The people of Moab and the Ammonites came to battle against Jehoshaphat. He fears Judah’s destruction and seeks the Lord by proclaiming a time of fasting and prayer throughout Judah. Because of this, Lord gives them a miraculous victory.
Ezra 8:21-23 - As Judah returns to Israel from Babylon, Ezra declares a fast to “humble themselves before the Lord” that He would show them “the right way for them and their little ones and all their possessions.”
Nehemiah 1:4 - When Nehemiah hears that the walls of Jerusalem are broken down and that it’s gates are burned with fire, he prays and fasts. His prayer is both a prayer of repentance and a prayer for God’s restoration.
Esther 4:3-16 - Haman conspires to make King Ahasuerus sign the decree that he will kill all the Jews. Queen Esther, her maids and all the Jews in Shushan fast and pray for the Lord’s favor. God delivers the Jews and Haman is executed.
Daniel 1:8 - Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Mishach, and Abed-Nego were put under the chief of eunuchs during their captivity in Babylon. Daniel and his friends refuse to eat the delicacies of King Nebuchadnezzer’s table because they “refused to defile themselves.” During this fast of purity they ate only vegetables and drank only water. God honored their purity and they were stronger and healthier than all the other men.
Daniel 6:18 - When Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den, King Darius spent the night in prayer and fasting for Daniel’s safety and deliverance. The king’s prayers were answered and Daniel was guarded by an angel.
Daniel 9:3 - Daniel reflects on prophecy given by Jeremiah and understands that Judah will soon be lead out of Babylon back to Jerusalem. He “sets his face toward God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, ….”
Joel 2:12-16 - God gives the people of Judah a call to repentance in prayer and fasting through the prophet Joel. Fasting and prayer in this passage is seen as a turning back to God and purifying of the heart from sin
Jonah 3:5 – The prophet Jonah preaches to the people of Nineveh, predicting their doom, but the people believe in God and proclaimed a fast. During this fast, neither man nor beast was permitted to eat or drink and “God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring on them and He did not do it.”
Matthew 4:1-11 – Jesus fasts for forty days and forty nights and is tempted by Satan.
Mark 1:12-13 – Same as above.
Luke 4: 1-14 – Same as above.
(Note: v1. Lead by the Spirit // v14. In the POWER of the Spirit)
Luke 2:37 – Anna, a prophetess, lived in the temple. She “served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” She saw the redeemer with her own eyes and “spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”
Acts 9:9 – God struck Saul blind on the road to Damascus. During his three-day period of blindness, Saul neither ate nor drank.
Acts 10:30 – Cornelius was fasting and praying when an angel appeared to him. The angel tells Cornelius to send for Peter and when Peter comes and preaches the gospel to these Gentiles, the Holy Spirit falls. This was the first instance of the Holy Spirit falling on the Gentiles.
Acts 13:1-3 – The leaders at the church in Antioch fast, pray, and set Saul and Barnabas apart for the work God had for them to do. “Then having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.” **
Acts 14:23 – Paul and Barnabas follow the same pattern in which they were sent out to appoint elders in every church. They “prayed with fasting, (and) they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”***
1 Corinthians 7:5 – Paul teaches that married couples are not to deprive one another except in times of prayer and fasting.
2 Corinthians 6:5 – As Paul speaks of all his hardships, he mentions his times of fasting and prayer.
2 Corinthians 11:27 – Paul speaks again of his commitment to a fasting lifestyle as he speaks of the many things he endures as a minister of Christ.

**Kingdom Dynamics at Acts 13: Prayer and Fasting Birth Signs and Wonders. The signs and wonders ministry of Paul and Barnabas were birthed as church leaders prayed, fasted, and sought the Lord. After the Holy Spirit Himself had called the two men, the leaders laid hands upon them and sent them forth. Later, Paul and Barnabas followed that same pattern, traveling from city to city, strengthening disciples and ordaining elders in the churches. What is that pattern? Disciplined fasting and prayer.

***Leadership Traits. Leaders of the early church arrived at decisions only after fasting and prayer. In Antioch the prophets and teachers fasted and prayed, seeking God’s direction for the church. While they waited on God, the Holy Spirit gave direction, thus beginning the missionary ministry, which eventually took the gospel to the whole world. Godly leaders rely on God for the direction and the empowering of their lives and ministry. Disciplined fasting and constant prayer are proven means for this, and as such, are mandatory in the lives of leaders.

Jesus teaches on prayer and fasting:
Matthew 6:16-18 – (16) WHEN you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. (17) But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, (18) so that you so not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Matthew 9:15, Luke 5:33-35, and Mark 2:18-20 –(18) The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why so the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast? (19) And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. (20) But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them and then they will fast.

Mark 9:14-29 –Jesus heals the boy with epileptic and mute spirit and says “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.

Acts 13:2 Ministered translates a verb used of the official service of priests. Here it speaks of their ministry of public worship. They fasted: Fasting is a spiritual exercise, a voluntary restraint from food for the purpose of seeking God. This practice was encouraged by Jesus’ own teaching (Matt. 9:15; Luke 5:35).

Recommended Reading Related to Fasting

  • Lost Art of Intercession

  • The Hidden Power of Prayer&Fasting

  • God's Chosen Fast

  • Sunday, July 03, 2005

    Types of Fasting

    Types of Fasting...
    As outlined by Elmer L. Towns in Fasting For Spiritual Breakthrough

    Nine different types of fasts based on the passage in Isaiah 58:6-8.

    The Disciple’s Fast:

    Purpose: “To loose the bands of wickedness” (Isa. 58:6) –freeing ourselves and others from addictions to sin.

    Key verse:

    “ This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matt.17:21)
    Background: Jesus cast out a demon from a boy whom the disciples had failed to help. Apparently they had not taken seriously enough the way Satan had his claws set in the youth. The implication is that Jesus’ disciples could have performed this exorcism had they been willing to undergo the discipline of fasting. Modern disciples also often make light of “besetting sins” that could be cast out if we were serious enough to take part in such a self-denying practice as fasting – hence the term “Disciple’s Fast.”

    The Ezra Fast:

    Purpose: To “undo the heavy burdens” (Isa. 58:6) – to solve problems, inviting the Holy Spirit’s aid in lifting loads and overcoming barriers that keep ourselves and our loved ones from walking joyfully with the Lord.

    Key Verse: “So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.” (Ezra 8:23)

    Background: Ezra the priest was charged with restoring the Law of Moses among the Jews and the rebuilt the city of Jerusalem by permission of Artaxerxes, King of Persia, where God’s people had been held captive. Despite this permission, Israel’s enemies opposed them. Burdened with embarrassment about having to ask the Persian king for an army to protect them, Ezra fasted and prayed for an answer

    The Samuel Fast:

    Purpose: “To let the oppressed (physically and spiritually) go free” (Isa. 58:6) –for revival and soul winning, to identify with people everywhere enslaved literally or by sin and to pray to be used of God to bring people out of the kingdom of darkness and into God’s marvelous light.
    Key Verse: “So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured it out before the Lord. And they fasted that day, and said there, ‘We have sinned against the Lord’” (1 Sam. 7:6)
    Background: Samuel led God’s people in a fast to celebrate the return of the Ark of the Covenant from its captivity by the Philistines, and to pray that Israel might be delivered from the sin that allowed the Ark to be captured in the first place.

    The Elijah Fast:

    Purpose: “To break every yoke” (Isa.58:6)-conquering the mental and emotional problems that would control our lives, and returning the control to the Lord.

    Key Verse: “He himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness…He arose and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and nights” (1 Kings 19:4,8)
    Background: Although Scripture does not call this a formal “Fast,” Elijah deliberately went without food when he fled from Queen Jezebel’s threat to kill him. After this self-imposed deprivation, God sent an angel to minister to Elijah in the wilderness.

    The Widow’s Fast

    Purpose: “To share [our] bread with the hungry” and to care for the poor (Isa.58:7)- to meet the humanization needs of others.

    Key Verse: “The jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah” (1Kings 17:16, NIV).

    Background: God sent the prophet Elijah to a poor, starving widow-ironically, so the widow could provide food for Elijah. Just as Elijah’s presence resulted in food for the widow of Zarephath, so presenting ourselves before God in prayer and fasting can relive hunger today.

    The Paul Fast

    Purpose: To allow God’s “light to break forth like the morning” (Isa 58:8), bringing clearer perspective and insight as we make crucial decision.

    Key Verse: “And he [Saul, or Paul] was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank” (Acts 9:9)

    Background: Saul of Tarsus, who became known as Paul after his conversion to Christ, was struck blind by the Lord in the act of persecuting Christians. He not only was without literal sight but he also had no clue about what direction his life was to take. After going without food and praying for three days, Paul was visited by the Christian Ananias, and both his eyesight and his vision of the future restored.

    The Daniel Fast

    Purpose: So “thine health shall spring forth” (Isa. 58:8)- to gain a healthier life or for healing.

    Key Verse: “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank.” (Dan. 1:8)

    Background: Daniel and his three fellow Hebrew captives demonstrated in Babylonian captivity that keeping themselves from pagan foods God had guided them not to eat made them more healthful than others in the king’s court.

    The John the Baptist Fast

    Purpose: That “your righteousness shall go before you” (Isa. 58:8) –that our testimonies and influence for Jesus will be enhanced before others

    Key Verse: “He shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink” (Luke 1:15)

    Background: Because John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus, he took the Nazarite vow that required him to “fast” from or avoid wine and strong drink. This was part of John’s purposefully adopted lifestyle that designated him as one set apart for a special mission.

    The Esther Fast:
    Purpose: That “the glory of the Lord” will protect us from the evil one (Isa. 58:8)

    Key Verses: “Fast for me… and my maids and I will fast…. And I will go to the king…. And she found favor in his sight” (Esther 4:16; 5:2)

    Background: Queen Esther, a Jewess in a pagan court, risked her life to save her people from threaten destruction by Ahasuerus, king of Persia. Prior to appearing before the king to petition him to save the Jews, Esther, her attendants and her cousin Mordecai all fasted to appeal to God for His protection.

    Categories of fasting - also by Elmer L. Towns
    (Obviously, these should be modified as God directs.)

    1. The Normal Fast
    going without food for a definite period during which you ingest only liquids (water and/or juice). The duration can be 1day, 3 days, 1 week, 1month or 40 days.

    2. The Absolute Fast
    allows no food or water at all, and should be short. Moses fasted for 40 days; but this would kill anyone without supernatural intervention.

    3. The Partial Fast
    one that omits certain foods or is on a schedule that includes limited eating. It may consist of omitting one meal a day. Eating only fresh vegetables for several days is also a good partial fast. Elijah practiced partial fasts at least twice. John the Baptist and Daniel with his three friends are other examples of those who participated in partial fasts. People who have hypoglycemia or other diseases might consider this kind of fast.

    4. The Rotational Fast
    consists of eating or omitting certain families of food for designated periods. For example, grains may be eaten only every fourth day. The various food families are rotated so that some food is available each day.

    Friday, July 01, 2005

    The Enthusiasts

    ENTHUSIASTS...Loving God with Mystery and Celebration

    “Excitement and mystery in worship is the spiritual lifeblood of enthusiasts. …enthusiasts are inspired by joyful celebration… cheerleaders for God and the Christian life. Let them clap their hands, shout ‘Amen!’ and dance in their excitement, that’s all they ask. …They don’t want to just know concepts, but to experience them, to feel them, and to be moved by them.”(28)“

    Enthusiasts enjoy a celebratory form of worship as well as many of the more supernatural forms of faith. …like to let go and experience God on the precipice of excitement and awe.” (152)CAUTIONS“The necessity of maturity will probably lead virtually every enthusiast through (the) canyon of unanswered prayer, where expectancy runs dry and the only mystery seems to be where God is hiding.” (162)“In the midst of a celebration it’s easy to forget how fearful and awesome God is. Without reverence, however, celebration degenerates into shallow triviality.” (165)“

    Just because we feel good during a time of worship doesn’t mean we have offered up our will in an appropriate manner…just because we feel down or ‘flat’ doesn’t mean we aren’t effectively worshiping God.” (170) “Enthusiasts by temperament are particularly fed by such experience (and) long to preserve the mystery of faith. Accepting the mystery of faith has both its strengths and its dangers, for while there is much mystery and supernatural activity in Scripture, there are also strong warnings against improper manifestations of what is popularly called ‘spirituality’.” (154)

    Ann Kiemel Anderson, King David, Graham Kendrick; Zig Ziglar; Barbara Johnson; James Robertson; Swindoll; hayford;

    I Chron. 13:8; 15:16; 16; II Chron. 29:26; Luke 19:37-40; Acts 16:25; Eph. 5:18-19; Acts 3:7; I Cor. 14:40; Acts 8:9-24;


    Jason Upton songs
    JoAnne McFatter songs
    Graham Kendrick songs

    1. Keep track of your dreams. Write down any that seem significant. The meanings should be fairly obvious to you. Talk with someone about them.

    2. Spend time just listening to God. Write down what you hear Him saying.

    3. Cultivate the mystery of expectancy: ask God to bring someone in your path to whom you can minister; Start a conversation with a stranger.

    4. Spend time with children: lead music at children’s church; act out Bible stories for them.

    5. Use your imagination to put yourself into the scene when you are reading Bible passages. Try to understand how the participants were feeling, thinking, acting.

    6. Use your imagination to consider how you might act on the teaching of the Scriptures, e.g., the Beatitudes; teachings about forgiveness; tithing.

    7. Be part of a strong church that holds its members accountable. Ask for a prayer partner or a mentor.

    8. Take a course; learn an evangelistic method to give you a witness structure.


    1. Think about unanswered prayer in your life. To what do you attribute this? How do you respond when God says, “Wait.”

    2. What are you expecting/wanting from God right now. Talk with Him about it. What does He tell you?

    3. In what ways does God speak to you in your daily life? What forms does it take? What does He say? How do you react?

    4. How do most like to celebrate God? What are some other ways you might like to experiment with?

    5. How do you feel when others around you don’t sing at all or sing softly throughout a song service, don’t raise their hands or move at all during worship?

    6. What changes would you like to see in the worship services at your church that would make worship a more satisfying experience for you?

    Carothers, Merlin R.. Answers to Praise: Letters to the Author of Prison to Praise. (1972). Bridge-Logos Publishers. ISBN: 0882700154

    Carothers, Merlin R. Power in Praise: Sequel to Prison to Praise. (1993). Bridge-Logos Publishers. ISBN: 0912106263.

    Carothers Merlin R.Prison to Praise. ISBN: 157748343X.

    Kiemel, Ann. I Love the Word Impossible. (1976). Tyndale House Publishers. ISBN: 0842315756.

    Kiemel, Ann. It’s Incredible. (1980). Tyndale House Publishers. ISBN: 0842318186.