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Thursday, July 11 2013

Prayer and Fasting

"Fast," as the English word that refers to abstaining from eating (and usually drinking), originated from an Anglo-Saxon word, foest, which meant to hold firm against eating (the English "hold fast" and "fasten" originated from the same original word, which produced other terms, such as "steadfast" which is merely another pronunciation of stand fast). While many regard fasting as an unusual practice, or something that only "religious" people do, fasting is actually a natural daily occurrence for everyone (unless some health issue precludes safely fasting overnight) - the English word "breakfast" refers to breaking the fast after the many hours of a night's sleep.

In referring to longer periods of abstinence, "fast" is used to translate the Hebrew word of the Old Testament, pronounced tsoom, which literally means to cover the mouth, as in to fast. In the New Testament, "fast" is used to translate the Greek word, pronounced nace-tyoo-oh, which specifically means to abstain from food.

The longest fasts recorded in the Holy Scriptures were the miraculously-enabled (such long fasts would have been fatal otherwise) forty-day fasts of Moses, Elijah and the Messiah.

Moses

"34:27 And the LORD [see Who Is The LORD?] said unto Moses [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Moses], Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel [see also Israel In History and Prophecy: The New Covenant]. 34:28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments." (Exodus 34:27-28 KJV)

"19:7 And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. 19:8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. 19:9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? [see The Prophets: Elijah]" (1 Kings 19:7-9 KJV)

"4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil [see Satan's Fall: From Conservative To Liberal and Who's Hiding On Your Wall?]. 4:2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. 4:3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:1-4 KJV)

It was a purposeful lesson that those three men, Moses (representing God's Law of true Freedom; see The Yoke Of Freedom and The Constitution Of The Kingdom Of God), Elijah (representing the prophets; see The Prophets: What Is A Prophet?) and the Messiah (Who unified the Law and the prophets in Him; see The Feast Of Trumpets Prophecy) also appeared together in the "transfiguration" - a prophetic vision of the future Kingdom of God (see The Church In The Kingdom Of God and What Is The Day Of The LORD?).

"17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother [see also What Did Peter and John See That Others Didn't?], and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 17:2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 17:3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

17:4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

17:5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." (Matthew 17:1-5 KJV)

"It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God"

The most well-known fast of Bible History, for the Day of Atonement, began as commanded by "the LORD God," Who was Jesus Christ: "10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 10:2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 10:3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 KJV) to The First Christian Church after the Exodus (again, see Who Is The LORD?). It has been one of the true Christian Holy Days ever since (see Calendar of Christ's Holy Days).

The Sinai Peninsula

"23:26 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 23:27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 23:28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God.

23:29 For whatsoever soul [see What Does The Bible Really Say About Your Soul?] it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. 23:30 And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. 23:31 Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 23:32 It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath." (Leviticus 23:26-32 KJV)

The believers of the LORD chose to occasionally fast for other reasons as well, usually during times of tribulation.

"20:26 Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God [see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Tabernacle], and wept, and sat there before the LORD, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD." (Judges 20:26 KJV)

"1:11 Then David [see Israel In History and Prophecy: King David] took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that were with him: 1:12 And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Saul and David], and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword." (2 Samuel 1:11-12 KJV)

"12:16 David therefore besought God for the child [see David And Bathsheba]; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. 12:17 And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them." (2 Samuel 12:16-17 KJV)

"20:3 And Jehoshaphat [see Jehoshaphat Of Judah] feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah." (2 Chronicles 20:3 KJV)

"4:15 Then Esther [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Purim] bade them return Mordecai this answer, 4:16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish." (Esther 4:15-16 KJV)

The Messiah taught fasting, including prayer and fasting on occasion (see also the Fact Finder question below).

Waiting To Be Healed

"17:18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour [see The Healing Spirit].

17:19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 17:21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." (Matthew 17:18-21 KJV)

As with so many other things, the religious authorities of that time perverted right things of the LORD into their own ideas of religion. The Messiah rebuked and condemned such self-righteous hypocrisy (see Religious Parties and Is Your Church A Cult?). Notice that Christ didn't say not to fast; He said don't fast like a for-show hypocrite.

"6:16 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. 6:17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 6:18 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." (Matthew 6:16-18 KJV)

The "New Testament" Church occasionally fasted in the same way, and for the same reasons, that God's true people always have (keeping in mind that those with health issues that prevent safe and healthy fasting should not fast).

"13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul [see Straight Street] for the work whereunto I have called them. 13:3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. 13:4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus." (Acts 13:1-4 KJV)

"14:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith [see Faithful Doers Of The Word], and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed." (Acts 14:21-23 KJV)

"7:1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 7:2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband [see also The Birth Of The Bride]. 7:3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 7:4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. 7:5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency." (1 Corinthians 7:1-5 KJV)

Fact Finder: Why is "prayer and fasting" beneficial?
See How To Pray


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This Day In History, July 11

472: Western Roman Emperor Anthemius was captured and executed in Rome by his own generals (see A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars; also Whatever Happened To Those Romans?).

911: The Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte was signed between Charles "the Simple" and Rollo of Normandy.

1302: The Battle of the Golden Spurs (Dutch Guldensporenslag); the Flemish (Flanders is the southern area of the Netherlands that 5 centuries later became the Dutch-speaking northern area of Belgium) defeated the king of France's royal army.

Martin Frobisher 1346: Charles IV of Luxembourg was elected Holy Roman Emperor in Germany (see The Holy Roman Empire).

1533: Pope Clement VII threatened English King Henry VIII with ex-communication if he did not resume his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Henry wasn't impressed with the threat - the marriage was annulled by Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, and afterward Henry married Anne Boleyn. Two years later, Henry broke with Rome and established the Church of England as the national religion of England (while at the same, as with the rest of the "Protestant" world, they maintained nearly all of Rome's antichrist doctrines; see Antichristians and Is Your Religion Your Religion?).

1576: English explorer Martin Frobisher sighted Greenland.

1613: The first Romanov Czar, Michael, was crowned in Russia ("Czar" is the Russian form of "Caesar," as is the German "Kaiser"). The dynasty lasted until the Russian Revolution in 1917 when the reigning Czar at that time, Nicholas II, and his entire family, were executed by the communist revolutionaries.

1616: Samuel de Champlain returned to Quebec.

1708: Forces under England's Duke of Marlborough defeated the French under Louis Vendome at the Battle of Oudenarde during the War of Spanish Succession.

1740: Jews were expelled from Little Russia by order of Czarina Anne.

1750: Halifax, Nova Scotia was destroyed by fire.

1776: English explorer Captain James Cook set sail on his third voyage.

1804: Aaron Burr, a former Vice President of the U.S.A. killed former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in a duel over political rivalry and accusations.

1882: During the Anglo-Egyptian War, the British Mediterranean Fleet began the bombardment of Alexandria, Egypt (see also A History Of Jerusalem: The British Mandate).

1889: Tijuana, Mexico, was founded.

1906: Sunday became the official day of rest in Canada; the Senate passed the so-called "Lord's Day Act" which was approved by the House of Commons by Sir Wilfred Laurier's government and was supported by Protestant and Roman Catholic churches and labour groups. The act restricted business, prohibited entertainment, sport, and almost all commerce on Sunday. The law remained in force until the Supreme Court of Canada struck it down in 1985 because it was judged to infringe upon the religious rights of non-Christians - an ironic view because the Sunday law in fact infringed upon the religious rights of true Christians. The Government had the right idea, but the wrong day; Sunday has never been, nor will ever be, the true Christian Sabbath (see When Is The LORD's Day? and Why Observe The True Sabbath?).

1919: The eight-hour working day and "free Sunday" become law in the Netherlands (again, as explained above, the right idea, but the wrong day).

1942: The longest bombing raid of the Second World War was carried out by 1,750 British and Canadian Lancaster bombers (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars).

1962: The first transatlantic satellite television transmission.

1979: After orbiting the earth since 1973, the U.S. Skylab re-entered the Earth's atmosphere and disintegrated over the Indian Ocean.

1995: Full diplomatic relations were established between the U.S.A. and Vietnam.

1995: More than 8,000 men and children in Bosnia were murdered by Serbian troops commanded by Ratko Mladic.

2006: Over 200 people were murdered in a series of terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India.


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