In this chapter, what stood out to me was the Fast that was already over, and the fasting that Paul did when the ship was in trouble. Fasting! It is because the Lord is teaching me many things about fasting at this time in my life.
The Fast, capitalized, in verse 9, refers to the Day of Atonement, the only appointed time of YHVH which is a day of fasting (Lev 23:26-32), and not a day of feasting, celebrating, and rejoicing. It is THE Fast in the Hebrew culture. It always falls in the fall of the year, September or October. The Day of Atonement begins on the evening of the 9th day of the 7th month (which is the beginning of the 10th day, for in God’s calendar, the new days begin at sunset).
Now, Jesus said that when the Bridegroom is with us, we cannot fast. But when the Bridegroom is taken away, then we will fast (Mar 2:19-20). The Bridegroom is away, and we are awaiting His return, in this season! The Hebrews fasted on Atonement to afflict their souls for their sins, and to receive forgiveness for the year that was past. What do Christians do on Atonement? For our sins have been forgiven!
First of all, is there any hidden thing in our heart, or in our walk, that is displeasing to God? Fasting before Him helps to humble ourselves and allow the Lord to speak to us, and to open our eyes to whatever it might be that is displeasing to Him, so that we can repent of it! I doubt a year will ever pass that there will not be something that the Lord would reveal. 🙂
Secondly, yes, our sins have been forgiven! But there are many who have not received the atonement provided for them by the blood of Jesus. I fast on Atonement for all those I know, whom God has placed in my life, who have not yet received His atonement! I spend the day in prayer and intercession for them, if perhaps the veil will be dropped from the eyes of their hearts, and that they will be able to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ Jesus! (2 Cor 4:3-4).
Then in verse 21, we see Paul, after they had been driven by a storm for a number of days, fasting. Fasting and prayer go together in the Scriptures, especially prayer for deliverance! Instances that come to mind, are Esther’s fast before approaching her husband the king of Persia over Hamaan’s plot to kill the Jews (Est 4), and Daniel’s fast for a restoration of Jerusalem and the people of God from captivity in Babylon (Dan 9).
There is something about fasting, a thing done in the natural world, that breaks power and strongholds in the spiritual world. They can be strongholds of sin, addictions, demonic powers, unbelief, evil strategies being brought to bear – but whatever they are, fasting is a powerful tool, coupled with prayer, that breaks the power of those things.
We have seen with our own eyes someone who had been cursed from birth by their father, who had been someone of authority in the Satanic religion, delivered and set free from deep- seated demonic possession and deception after fasting and prayer for four days!
I recently read the testimony of Lou Engle of The Call. God called him to a fast! It is powerful what followed. International House of Prayer has called believers to fast with them in the Global Bridegroom Fast on the first Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of every month, with a few extra days, for a total of 40 days of fasting every year, until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ! God had been speaking to me about fasting with prayer before this, and this was confirmation for me to step out into more than one- day fasts.
Now, more than ever before, let us fast for Israel, for her enemies are gathering around her. Let us fast for Muslims to come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and be delivered from the bondage of Islam! Let us fast for Israel to see her Messiah! Let us fast for a new wave of pure devotion and truth to break forth in the churches! Let us fast for the sleeping giant of the Church to wake up from her slumber!
What I have learned about fasting so far: It is not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord! (Zec 4:6) When I hoped to have enough will power in my flesh to make it, I have failed, but when I relied on the Spirit to be my strength, then I have been successful!