If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Christmas is fast approaching and people, churches, companies are all talking about parties and celebrations. Every city seems to have decked itself up for the Christmas season. The sad truth is that Christmas has become a Christless festival.
Today marks the start of the Nativity Fast in the Indian Orthodox Church. We have to believe the power of fasting as it relates to prayer is the spiritual weapon that our Lord has given us to destroy the strongholds of evil and usher in a great revival and spiritual harvest around the world. At first we question the need of fasting and prayer “Is this truly God’s call for me?” But with each passing day, His call will grow stronger and clearer. Finally, we will be convinced that God has called us to fast, and He would not make such a call without a specific reason or purpose. With this conviction, enter the Nativity fast with excitement and expectancy mounting in our hearts, praying, Lord, what do you want us to do?”
As we begin to fast, our confidence in the Lord will help us. Each day His presence will encouraged us to continue. The longer we fast, the more we sense the presence of the Lord. The Holy Spirit refreshes our soul and spirit, and we experience the joy of the Lord as seldom before. Biblical truths leap at us from the pages of God’s Word. Our faith soars as we humble ourselves and cry out to God and rejoice in His presence. Fasting calls on the Holy Spirit and brings us to repentance, prayer and almsgiving.
We youths need to revive our commitment to fasting and prayer and the rest of the church will respond to this call. Spent time in reading God’s word and make your time with the Lord more spiritually rewarding. There is no point in fasting and prayer until it equips you for spiritual awakening. Hope this Nativity Fast will not slip by without having made a genuine effort to prepare ourselves for the incarnation of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Set Your Objective
Why are you fasting? Is it for spiritual renewal, for guidance, for healing, for the resolution of problems, for special grace to handle a difficult situation? Ask the Holy Spirit to clarify His leading and objectives for your prayer fast. This will enable you to pray more specifically and strategically. Through fasting and prayer we humble ourselves before God so the Holy Spirit will stir our souls, awaken our churches, and heal our land according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. Make this a priority in your fasting.
Make Your Commitment
Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake. How long you will fast – one meal, one day, a week, several weeks, twenty -five days (Beginners should start slowly, building up to longer fasts.) What physical or social activities you will restrict. How much time each day you will devote to prayer and God’s Word. Making these commitments ahead of time will help you sustain your fast when physical temptations and life’s pressures tempt you to abandon it.
Prepare Yourself Spiritually
The very foundation of fasting and prayer is repentance. Un-confessed sin will hinder your prayers. Ask God to help you make a comprehensive list of your sins. Confess every sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and accept God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3,4). Make restitution as the Holy Spirit leads you. Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit according to His command in Ephesians 5:18 and His promise in 1 John 5:14,15. Begin your time of fasting and prayer with an expectant heart (Hebrews 11:6). Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit (Galatians 5:16,17). Go for confession and receive the Holy Mysteries.
Prepare Yourself Physically
Fasting requires reasonable precautions. Consult your physician first, especially if you take prescription medication or have a chronic ailment. Some persons should never fast without professional supervision. Do not rush into your fast. Prepare your body. Eat smaller meals before starting a fast. Avoid high-fat and sugary foods. Limit your activity. Exercise only moderately. Rest as much as your schedule will permit. Prepare yourself for temporary mental discomforts, such as impatience, crankiness, and anxiety. The first two or three days are usually the hardest. As you continue to fast, you will likely experience a sense of well-being both physically and spiritually.
Prepare For Prayer
For maximum spiritual benefit set aside ample time for prayer. The more time you spend with Him, the more meaningful your fast will be. Begin your day in praise and worship. Read and meditate on God’s Word. At noon return to God’s Word and prayer. Try to spend time praying for all those that need our prayers. In the evening be alone and make time for personal prayer. If there are others fasting, meet and pray together. Avoid television or any other distraction that might dampen our focus. When your designated time for fasting is finished, you will begin to eat again. But how you break your fast is extremely important for your physical and spiritual well-being.
If you sincerely humble yourself before the Lord, repent, pray, and seek God’s face; if you consistently meditate on His Word, you will experience a heightened awareness of His presence (John 14:21). The Lord will give you fresh, new spiritual insights. Your confidence and faith in God will be strengthened. You will feel mentally, spiritually, and physically refreshed. A single fast, however, is not a spiritual cure-all. Just as we need fresh infillings of the Holy Spirit daily, we also need new times of fasting before God. It takes time to build your spiritual fasting muscles. If you fail to make it through your first fast, do not be discouraged. You may have tried to fast too long the first time out, or your may need to strengthen your understanding and resolve. God will honor you for your faithfulness. I encourage you to fast and pray from tomorrow in our homes, our churches, our nation, and throughout the world.