How Great Is Your Desire?
“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of Him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for All our substance.” (Ezra 8:21)
Ezra had a great journey of leading a large group of Jewish people back to their homeland. He would need protection for defenseless men, women, and children. Ezra shared with King Artaxerxes how the Lord God was good to those who followed Him and how His great power was against those who forsook Him. After this very bold proclamation, Ezra didn’t want to ask the king for military protection in their journey back to the homeland. Instead, he looked to God and he fasted and prayed (v 23). And God heard Ezra’s prayer with guidance and protection towards their destination….
There comes a time in every believer’s life when we have to ask ourselves the question “how bad do I really want this prayer answered?”
If it’s an urgent and necessary need, we will make time for fasting and prayer… if our desire is great, the burden heavy, we will begin to seek the Lord to hear us.
Fasting isn’t easy for most of us. Our flesh demands satisfaction, whether it’s giving up food, social media, TV, recreation, or anything that brings us pleasure. Yet fasting is the best way for us to clear out the distractions of our desires so that we can truly pray and seek God’s guidance. It is a fact that denying our flesh brings about spiritual breakthrough.
Fasting is pleasing unto God because it shows our obedience; yes, obedience, in that we desire to crucify our flesh and what it wants in order to please Him and seek His will, and that requires obedience. It’s not an easy thing to put our flesh under submission. Often we as humans “want what we want when we want it” and we don’t want to wait for it.
And sadly, once we’ve felt the calling to fast, we can find every excuse to break it or postpone for another time. The excuses can come flying in from the enemy convincing us to put it aside. This is when we must push ourselves to follow through and seek God’s strength to do so. Repeated failure in fasting is a sign that our flesh has a greater dominance over our lives.
Fasting isn’t meant to prove how spiritual we are; as we should not be fasting just for ourselves alone, or to the appearance of others to see and praise us for how righteous or holy we are; no, it is but to seek the will of God and to intercede for others.
We can read where it is written in (Zechariah 7:5-6), the Lord speaking to Zechariah saying, “did ye at all fast unto Me, even to Me…. and when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves? So, we may see here that the Lord desires us to fast seeking Him, and not of ourselves.
Actually, true heartfelt fasting reveals how much we need God’s help, and how great our desire is. It gives us perspective and insight into our own inner spiritual need over the physical needs, so that we can have a greater confidence in our prayers to God. Commitment to fasting and prayer combined will bring great revelations to you and increase your faith in your walk with the Lord. There is great power in availing yourself to become weak….
Jesus instructs us in (Matthew 6:16-18) about fasting where He says, “Moreover, when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”
There is a warning and a promise in this passage: where Jesus says, “verily I say unto you they have their reward”… that isn’t a positive reward, but instead God’s anger will be poured out upon those seeking man’s validation and approval for their works. And the promise is that our “Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
What a beautiful promise that is to know we will be acknowledged by the greatest: the Almighty Creator, who will reward us openly before others. There can be no other greater acknowledgement in my mind.
The Lord has much to say about fasting and a few of the reasons we should be fasting in (Isaiah 58:2-14), as well as the promises that He guarantees as a result of our obedience. We may see that He says in (v 6-8), “Is not this the fast I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee: the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward.”
Oh, what a powerful promise. Please read on a few more verses; the promise continues. Such beautiful verses these are. I remember these each time I begin a fast. I remember this in that; I am praying for someone else first and foremost, to bind the enemy in their lives, to ask God to intervene in their lives, and secondly, I am praying and fasting for a specific need or desire in my life to be heard by my Lord. When the desire is great; to where it is a heavy burden upon your heart, then this is the best reason and most powerful way to reach the Father’s ears: by fasting and diligent prayers. Remember: “the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16), and we know that He hears us as it is promised in (Psalm 34:15) and again in (1 Peter 3:12). I believe that He repeats things because it is of much importance, and of course He wants us to know and believe Him. You can trust Him. If He said it, it is true without a shadow of a doubt.
Therefore in closing this morning, I ask you: how great is your desire? I challenge you to seek the Lord with fasting, along with your prayers. You may simply begin with just a few hours of putting your flesh under submission. Skip just one meal; instead giving it to God by using it for Him: “with prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests be made unto the Lord” (Phillipians 4:6). Instead spend that time that you would have spent preparing that meal and partaking of it, in prayer, reading the Word and of course without eating.
And fasting does not have to simply apply to the physical aspect of eating food. The same can be applied if you choose to fast from any particular pleasure of your flesh: like watching TV or social media. Turn off the TV for an hour during your favorite show and read the bible instead…. Step away from your computer or your phone for an hour, or even greater two hours; and devote that time to the Lord….
Gosh…did I just hear a gasp? Yep, it takes obedience and desire. Again, how bad do you want it?
I assure you that you will not only grow stronger each time you do this and succeed; but you will feel such joy as your faith will be increased and you will see victories begin to take place in your prayer life.
The Lord says, “Prove Me and see if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10). He is certainly referring to tithing here, however I believe He means this to apply to all things in our lives. It has been my own personal experience that after I have spent much time in prayer and fasting; whether it be from food, or my TV, if my time is spent primarily interceding for others, that my Father brings blessings in for me. I always feel stronger, more confident, and much more happier. My joy seems to be greatly increased after a day of fasting, or simply just denying my flesh whatever it wants, to instead give that time to my Lord and my God. That my life could be pleasing to Him is my greatest desire, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that….
Dear Lord, many times I’ve struggled with giving up things that I like, yet I know to seek your face is more pleasing and I so want to grow up spiritually with this discipline in my life. I pray for the strength to fast and pray, and put aside my fleshly desires more each day for you my Lord. In Jesus holy name I pray…. Amen
God is with us….