These are my sermon notes from a recent sermon on the topic of fasting. It’s in point form so it doesn’t necessary flow in terms of what it would be like if you were reading an article on fasting. But it has meat in it and some good thoughts re the spiritual discipline of fasting.
17 Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. 18 And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”
19 He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” 20 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.
21 So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?”
And he said, “From childhood. 22 And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe,[a] all things are possible to him who believes.”
24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” 26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.
28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”
29 So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”[
Three Key thoughts
- The Lack of Spiritual Power
- The Lord of Spiritual Power
- The Lessons of Spiritual Power
1) The Lack of Spiritual Power
Let’s set the stage for these verses. In verses 1-13 of this chapter, Jesus had taken Peter, James and John up into Mount Hermon and He was transfigured before them. The glory of His heavenly state became visible on the mountain top. These three disciples see Jesus in His glory. They saw Moses and Elijah and listened to them talk to Jesus about His impending death on the cross. They even heard the voice of God the Father as He praised Jesus Christ His Son!
Then they come across this demonically possessed boy
The saddest aspect of this whole scene is not the condition of the boy; the spirit of the scribes, or the anguish of the father. The saddest part of this whole account is the powerlessness of the disciples.
These men had seen Jesus perform countless amazing miracles, yet they still lacked genuine faith. These men had even cast out demons in the past, Mark 6:7; 12-13. These men had seen the miracles and they had performed the miracles themselves, but now it is said of them “and they could not.”
2) The Lord of Spiritual Power
Jesus hears the father’s story and commands the boy be brought to Him. When he arrives, the demon in the child recognizes Jesus and attacks the boy again. The child is gripped by convulsions, and he wallows on the ground, foaming at the mouth, v. 20. It is a pitiful scene.
As the child writhes on the ground, Jesus begins to question this father. Jesus is attempting to overcome this father’s lack of faith. Jesus asks him about how long the child has been this way, v. 21. The father’s answer is graphic and telling. He tells Jesus that things have been this way since the boy was little. He also tells Jesus that the demon has attacked the boy repeatedly, trying to burn him to death or drown him in the water, v. 22.
Then, the father bears the true condition of his faith. He looks at Jesus and he says, “but if you can do anything, have compassion on us, and help us.” It is a pitiful plea, but it is also a plea from a faithless man.
This father trusted that the disciples of Jesus could heal his son. When they failed, his faith in Jesus and His abilities was shattered as well.
In verse 17, this father had brought the son believing Jesus could deliver him. Now, this father’s faith has been reduced to “if you can do any thing…”
When Jesus hears this man’s words, He responds immediately! The force of the Lord’s words in verse 23 does not really come through in our English Bibles. I don’t know if you know it or not, but the punctuation was not there in the originals. Here is what Jesus was saying, “23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe,[a] all things are possible to him who believes.”
Jesus rebukes the father for his doubt and commands him to place his faith in Jesus for the healing his son desperately needs. When the father hears this, he makes one of the most honest and transparent prayers in the entire Bible. He looks at Jesus and says, “Lord I believe; help my unbelief.” He is saying, “Lord, I do believe in You and in Your power. But, my faith is weak! Help me to grow in my faith.”
Then Jesus commands the spirit to leave the boy and to never return, v. 25. The demon attacks the child one more time and comes out. The child becomes so quiet and so still that the onlookers assume that he is dead, v. 26. Then, Jesus does what He does best; He takes the child by the hand and He lifts him up. The child rises and he is free, v. 27.
3) The Lessons of Spiritual Power
When this episode is over and the disciples are alone with Jesus, the nine who failed to deliver the child ask Jesus about why they failed, v. 28. These men were concerned about their spiritual failure, and they should have been!
The answer Jesus gave them is both simple and telling. His answer is that these men failed because they lacked spiritual discipline in their lives, v. 29.
Prayer is a state of close communion with the Lord. Fasting speaks of a lifestyle of total submission and surrender to the Lord. These men were not communing with God as they should have been. Neither were they as surrendered to God as they should have been.
Fasting is a key way to bring your flesh into subjection to your spirit
Fasting and the related spiritual discipline is a key tool of Spiritual Breakthrough and to release you from your Prison.
We need to do what we can do and God will do what we can’t
Some things that we can learn about the practicalities of fasting from Isaiah 58
The passage opens with God giving instructions to someone. While the person is not named, the simile of a trumpet and shouting suggest that the metaphor is of God speaking to a prophet in the role of a king’s herald
1. aloud—Hebrew, “with the throat,” that is, with full voice, not merely from the lips (1Sa 1:13). Speak loud enough to arrest attention.
- The topic is the sin and attitudes of the people (vv. 1-2).
- The people respond to God with a complaint (v. 3a).
- God then addresses the people directly, first by challenging their actions (vv. 3b-4),
- then by pointing to what they should be doing (vv. 5-10),
- and finally concluding with a future promise as the result of their faithfulness (vv. 11-12).
- In the larger unit, the final verses of the chapter (vv. 13-14) reiterate a particular example of their faithfulness as the necessary conditions for a future restoration.
V3 God changes the pronoun from addressing to a collective group to addressing the message individually
The passage begins with strong words about the people’s rebellion and sins (v. 1), and continues with accusations of unrighteousness and disobedience (v, 2). This announcement clearly defines the gravity of what the people are doing.
Yet, the first part of verse two seems to portray the people is a positive light. They seek after God, ask for his justice, and “delight” to know his ways and to draw near to God. They fast and claim to humble themselves before God (v. 3).
We are immediately faced with the question around which this passage revolves. How can a people who seem so intent on serving God be considered so rebellious and sinful? One key to this question is the interplay of several words throughout the passage that serves to direct the answer.
The immediate context is the issue of fasting. The people had called a fast, and wondered why it seemed to have no effect on God (v. 3). While we sometimes associate fasting with personal acts of piety and devotion, in the OT fasting was usually associated with negative circumstances, such as in morning or in the face of some calamity from which the people needed deliverance or God’s presence (e.g., Jud 20:26; 7:6; 2 Sam 12:16, etc.; note v. 9b). Jeremiah even equated fasting with crying out to God (Jer 14:2).
From this perspective, fasting could be easily perverted into a way to manipulate God into doing what the worshipper wanted. In a formula that reduced worship of God to the level of magic, they apparently assumed that if they fasted, God should respond and addresses the situation that prompted the fasting. And so they were willing to challenge God because he had not performed in response to their fast (v. 3).
The implication is clearly that they were not fasting as part of devotion to God, but for their own interests. They expected God to improve their situation because they had fasted (Zech 7:2). That seems to be the case in Isaiah as the prophet makes nearly the same observation: “you serve your own interest on your fast day” (v. 3c). They may have been encouraged by aspects of the tradition that seemed to support this way of thinking, for example Psalm 37:4-6:
Principals we learn about Fasting and its power from IS 58
1) When we fast we should change our conduct to reduce our pleasures
V3 “ In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
Corinthians talks about fasting sex.
May be a fasting could include fasting – TV, sport something in which we derive pleasure
2) We should be mindful of the way we treat people
V3 And exploit all your laborers.
In fact a lot of Is 58 – is about the way we treat others
3) Motive for which we fast
V4 – fast for strife and debate
4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
Matt 6 talks about this too – what is our motive for fasting. If it is to appear spiritual and get the accolades of man – it’s just messed up.
4) We need to be aware of what we say and change unrighteous communication
V 9 If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
We have seen some types of and requirements for fasting, but what I really want to know is what its effects are. What is to be gained from refusing my body its most basic need?
The Effects of Fasting
- Fasting Leads to Freedom
Isaiah 58:6 says,? 6 “ Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Matt 17:21 The story of the young boy who had demon issues and the disciples prayed
Jesus says – this type does not come out but through prayer and fasting.
Fasting seems to increases the authority of prayer.
Also seems to be an increaser of our faith
V19 – the disciples say – why couldn’t we do see results
Jesus says – because of your unbelief
And the antidote for that was – prayer and fasting.
So when it comes to stronghold and issues in your life that seem to be immovable – fasting can strengthen your faith and increase your authority
I like Jehoshaphat’s response to a battle brewing
2 Chron 20:1-4
1 It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites,[a] came to battle against Jehoshaphat. 2 Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria;[b] and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi). 3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to ask help from the LORD; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.
2. Fasting leads to souls being saved
You can apply v6 to the unsaved
Fast for your loved ones.
3. Leads to a Giving Spirit
Isaiah 58:7 says, 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Again we see that fasting it linked to being others focussed
We can fast for the needs of others to be met
4. Fasting Leads to Spiritual Insight
Isaiah 58:8 says, “ 8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
v. 8 “light break forth”…it’s like God turns on the lights and now you know what to do!
My experience is that when I fast my spirit becomes more sensitive to the things of the spirit.
It seems that I hear from God more clearer
Paint the picture of the sunsets I see in the morning – and as I walk it goes from being dark to grey to rays of sunlight.
And everything starts to move and come alive a fresh for the day
And that’s the picture that God paints for us.
5 . Fasting Leads to Healing
Isaiah 58:8 says, “… Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
What a great motivation to fast
6. Fasting Leads to greater protection
Isaiah 58:8 says, “…then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.”
From Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary on Crosswalk.com
From John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible on searchgodsword.org
He gathers his people to himself; he protects and defends them; he takes care of the weak and feeble, and that are straggling behind; and he brings them up, being the reward, and saves them. The phrase denotes a glorious state of the church in the latter day, when the glory of the Lord will be risen on his church, and abide upon it, and upon all that glory there shall be a defence
- IT seems like a reference to Exodus 14 when the Egyptions were pursuing the Israelites towards the Red Sea. For the Israelite’s protection, the Spirit of God & the pillar of Fire moved from in front of them, to their rear, protecting them from any attack by the Israelites. (verse 19 & 20)
- So this was part of God’s salvation (Ex 14:13), to deliver the Isralites from the enemy that wanted to enslave & oppress them.
- If you also think about the Armour of God in Ephesians, everything is on the front, nothing on the back, but it looks like it is the Glory of God that is our armour for any sneak attack from behind.
7. Fasting Leads to Answered Prayer
Isaiah 58:9 says, 9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
Contrast this to Is 1:15
15 When you spread out your hands,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers,
I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood.
8. Fasting Leads to Influence
Isaiah 58:9-10 says, “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”
9. Fasting Leads to God’s Guidance
Isaiah 58:11 says, “The LORD will guide you continually
10. Fasting Leads to God’s Provision
Isaiah 58:11 says, “…11 The LORD will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
11. Fasting Leads to a Godly Heritage
Isaiah 58:12 says 12 Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In
12. Fasting Leads to Joy
Isaiah 58:13-14 says, 13 “ If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the LORD honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words,
14 Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
13. Fasting Leads to Blessing
Isaiah 58:14 says, And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
Extreme Christianity – All great leaders have an extreme relationship with God
Jesus – Luke 4
Anna the Prophetess Jesus
Cornelius John the Baptist
Fasting is Hard
Why would you fast?
- To defeat the enemy in your life.
- When you are in the midst of a crises
Paul – Shipwreck. Act 27:21
- Freedom from Addiction
- To Seek the Lord
2Chron 20:3-4 Jehosophat
- When you are being sent on a mission from God.
Biblical Lengths of Fasting
- Part of a day
- One day
- Three days
- Seven days
- Fourteen days
- 3 Weeks
- Forty days
Examples of Corporate Fasting
Israel before a battle People of Juda
Israel at Mizhah Jesus during the reign of Ahasuerus
Sauls Army Pharisees
David’s Mighty Men Disciples of John the Baptist
Judah Multitudes following Jesus
People of Nineveh Leaders of the Church of Antioch
If this Blog has been helpful, informative, or inspirational to you, please feel free to share it on Facebook or Twitter. Email Subscriptions to my blog are welcome or you can contact me through Facebook (facebook.com/peter.pilt5), Twitter (@PeterPilt) or Insta (@PeterPilt). Have a great day.
My Top Ten Most Popular Blogs Are:
- Exposing Nimble: Dumb Little Loans Deceptive Little Company
- Today the World was Outraged by the Wrong Thing: The Mitchell Pearce Incident
- Top 20 Creative Sermon Titles and Illustrations From Peter Pilt
- Compelling Evidence of the Authenticity of the Bible.
- Social Media: Is it Positive or Negative for a Person’s Spiritual Journey
- Is it OK to Eat Red Meat on Good Friday?
- Powerful Meditation on Ezekiel 37, The Valley of Dry Bones
- 44 Powerful Emotive Australian Photos
- Peter Pilt’s Seven Thoughts on the Sydney Siege
- 39 Powerful and Thought Provoking Questions