“Fasting is the God-appointed way for his children to humble themselves before him.” – Derek Prince
In Leviticus 16, God establishes the Day of Atonement as a holy day for the children of God to humble themselves and seek repentance.
Leviticus 16:29 “This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who [h]dwells among you. 30 For on that day the priest shall make [i]atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. 31 It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. 32 And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father’s place, shall make atonement, and put on the linen clothes, the holy garments; 33 then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.” And he did as the Lord commanded Moses.”
To afflict the soul means to fast. Every Jewish person knows that is the meaning of “afflict the soul.” What is the soul? The soul is the part of the human being that is made up of the mind, the will and the emotions. The soul is the part of us that needs to submit to the Lord. The soul is the part that will go it’s own way. The soul is the part that can be wounded or can be encouraged.
King David wrote an entire Psalm, in which he speaks to his soul. Why would he talk to himself? Does that make him crazy? No. We all “talk to ourselves.” What matters is what we say to ourselves. What kind of self-talk do you allow to go on inside of you? Do you submit your inner life to the Lord?
Fasting is a time to submit your inner life to the Lord through self-denial from food. Let’s look at when King David spoke to his soul.
Praise for the Lord’s Mercies
A Psalm of David.
103 Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
9 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 For the wind passes over it, and it is [b]gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
18 To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.
19 The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.
20 Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.
21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.
22 Bless the Lord, all His works,
In all places of His dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
The other day, when I was feeling under the weather and under a cloud of oppression, the Lord brought this Psalm to mind. I looked it up and spoke it out loud several times, commanding my soul to remember the Lord and to be encouraged by who he is.
Our soul is different than our spirit. Our spirits are raised to life when we put our faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus told his disciples in the garden to pray for at least an hour, so they wouldn’t fall into temptation. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
They were spiritually in agreement with what God wanted, but their will- their desires wanted to go the opposite direction of God’s divine will. The soul wants to follow the flesh. The flesh cries out for satisfaction and the soul loves following the body. James 1:12-15 talks about how we fall into sin and temptation because of the evil desires of our flesh.
Loving God Under Trials
12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
So, as believers, when we fast, we afflict our souls and teach our souls to follow our spirit’s desire to obey the Holy Spirit. Fasting should be a time in God’s Word and a time of prayer and intimacy with God. It is a time of rending our hearts. Joel 2 talks about fasting that is inward- a time where the heart is laid open before the Lord.
“Now, therefore,” says the Lord,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; (emphasis mine)
Return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.
14 Who knows if He will turn and relent,
And leave a blessing behind Him—
A grain offering and a drink offering
For the Lord your God?
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,
Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly;
16 Gather the people,
Sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and nursing babes;
Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber,
And the bride from her dressing room.
17 Let the priests, who minister to the Lord,
Weep between the porch and the altar;
Let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord,
And do not give Your heritage to reproach,
That the nations should [g]rule over them.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’ ”
The word heart in Joel 2:13 is this in the Hebrew:
לֵבָב lebab (523b); from an unused word; inner man, mind, will, heart:―
Today, our prayer is for the Lord to expose our hearts, so he will do spiritual surgery on us to heal us from sinful inclinations. We are praying for God’s will to be done and lived out in practical ways in our lives. We want our faith and our relationship with Jesus to impact everything we do.
Father, in Jesus name, I come before you in humility. Teach me to humble myself before you. I don’t even quite know what that looks like practically. Teach me how to fast and pray. I need you to guide me. I trust in you. I trust in your word.
Lord, my spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak. Build me up in my inner being so that Jesus can live in my heart through faith. I want Christ in the middle of every part of my life. I want to walk in ways that please you- stemming from a transformed heart.
My heart is open before you, Lord. Speak to me. Teach me. Lead me. Create in me a clean heart, Oh Lord. And renew a right spirit within me.
Right now I speak to my soul- I command my soul to bless the Lord! (Scroll up and pray Psalm 103 a loud- do it more than once, if you need to.)
Lord, open my eyes. Pour out your Spirit of wisdom and revelation that I can know you in intimate and practical ways. Lord, pour out your Spirit of wisdom and revelation on your church in American. I pray that you will move your people out of a religious stupor and sleepiness into a Great Awakening. Wake us up, Lord. Wake us up, Lord. Wake us up, Lord! In Jesus’ name.
Pour out your Spirit in those who have never experienced your holy wind and fire. So many churches neglect teaching on your Spirit, Jesus, even though you said you had to leave because it would be better for your Spirit to be here than if you were here in the flesh. Help us to see the boldness for evangelism and the presence of God that the early church experienced. They were hungry for you. We are hungry for you. Teach me to wait on you and to be renewed by you. Teach me and raise me up in your power and in your love.
Expose sin and corruption and lies in the adults in the American church. So many adults go to church and live duplicity. They smile on Sunday morning and then turn around and watch trashy movies filled with sexual content. There is fighting and quarreling and unforgiveness in the home. There is abuse – emotional, mental and physical. People have a form of godliness, but deny the power of God to save and transform. We look religious, but we don’t change the world with our lives.
Forgive us, Lord. Convict the church. Convict the adults in the church- the leaders. Convict for fearful preaching and teaching. We care more about not scaring people than we care about if people are transformed by the truth of God. Forgive us, Lord.
Lord, forgive us for being cowards. Forgive us for exalting our feelings above the truth. Lord, expose the corruption in the adults in the church. Do not let it hide. Expose it, so that people can be saved and healed.
Expose alcoholism and dirty joking. Expose lying. Expose heresy. Expose womanizing and adultery. There is even swinging in the churches, Lord. You know this. The church is in bed with the world. Lord, those who are called by your name are committing adultery with the world. Those who call you by name are leading people astray and twisting your word on issues of same sex relationships. People who go to church are abusing children. People who claim to be Christians are oppressing women. People who claim to be Christians are belittling men and asking them not to be what you created them to be. People who claim your name are posting terrible racist content online. People who claim to be Christians are being led by political parties, instead of by Jesus Christ. Expose this corruption, Lord. Cleanse the church, Lord. Open people’s eyes.
We selfishly cling to things that our flesh desires and make excuses. We don’t want correction- we are hard-hearted. Lord, please deliver us. Lord please bring a strong conviction.
Be merciful in your exposing, Lord. Bring restoration and healing. Bring life.
It says in your word that you will bring a strong delusion on the world in the end because people love a lie, instead of the truth. Oh Lord, have mercy! Have mercy! Save us from the delusion. Protect us from delusions and deception.
Forgive me for believing lies, Lord. Reveal to me all the lies I am believing and cleanse them from my life, Oh Lord. Let me be led by your Spirit and not by my feelings, in Jesus’ name. I renounce a lying spirit and rebuke Satan and all of his lies, in Jesus’ name. I will cling to the truth of Jesus Christ.
Lord, fill me with courage to stand up for the truth, even when the world hates me for you.
Lord, forgive me for being a coward in the face of the world.
Lord, give me strength to live for you and to share the gospel.
Bring people into my life that I can share the gospel with, Lord. Teach me how to share Jesus.
Help me to pray for people and to love people without condemnation. I know you would rather forgive and cleanse instead of bringing judgement. Teach me to be truthful and loving. Teach me to stand in truth and not compromise. Strengthen me for the times when I am persecuted, matter how much I love.
Lord, have mercy on your people. Remember your people are called by your name and the world is watching. Redeem us, Oh Lord. Protect us, by your blood- the blood of the Lamb.
In Jesus name, Amen.