God has a glorious purpose for each one of our lives. We read in Ephesians 1:11 about all of our lives,
“…having been predestined according to HIS PURPOSE Who works
ALL THINGS after the counsel of His will.”
More than impressive when we read those words, far more. God’s purpose for us is so all-encompassign, that He tells us that He is at work in each and every detail of it. All things! He leaves nothing to chance. Nothing is left dangling in the wind. It then should be the heart of each one of us as to what is expressed in the following words:
“I HAVE MY PURPOSE FROM GOD TO COMPLETE, PROMISES TO
GOD TO KEEP, AND MILES TO GO BEFORE I SLEEP.”
God is not a pointless, purposeless, aimless, directionless God in anything that He does. We have not been created by a scatterbrain God Who lives in the goalless whim of the moment. He does not set things in motion, and then like the Deists believe, says to us. “Lot’s of luck, you are on your own. And when you discover what you are going to do with your life, let me know, for I right now I have no clue.” No, no, a milllion times no. In other words:
“HE WAS NOT SIMPLY IN THE MOOD FOR CREATING THINGS AND PEOPLE
ONE DAY, AND SO HE WENT ON A CREATIVE RAMPAGE JUST FOR
THE FUN OF IT BUT WITHOUT ANY ETERNAL INTENT OR GOAL.”
No! No! No! In fact, so purpose-oriented is God the Creator that we are told by the Apostle Paul a most powerful truth:
“GOD’S WILL FOR ALL OF US HAS BEEN PREDESTINED/PREDESIGNED
IN ETERNITY, AND THEN HE WORKS OUT HIS CUSTOMIZED
PURPOSES FOR EACH OF US IN TIME.”
All of this is totally contrary to so many who believe that they are here by chance, and that their lives have no predestined Divine design. They are without eternal meaning, and they are just living their lives on the wing blown by the winds of chance. NIHILISM! NOTHINGNESS! And therefore tragically:
“THE VAST MAJORITY OF HUMANITY LIVE THEIR ENTIRE LIVES WITHOUT
DISCOVERING THEIR MAKER’S MANIFESTO FOR THEIR LIVES.”
Or as someone put it so pointedly:
“WORKING FROM 9 TO 5, SIMPLY TO PROVE THAT THEY ARE ALIVE.
WHY THEY ARE ALIVE TOTALLY ESCAPES THEM.”
But therein is contained the entire point of our existence, and why we were created and recreated in Jesus Christ. God does not create and recreate without a design. The Lord doesn’t want anyone to slip through the cracks. The Lord doesn’t want anyone to die and say that his or her life didn’t matter and really served no eternal purpose. Only those who believe that God the Creator has an exact purpose for them will throw themselves into that purpose for all they are worth.
THE BIG QUESTION – THE WRONG ANSWER
The issue then remains as to how we come to discover our Divine call in life, i.e. the will of God for each one of us. Do we determine it by sitting down, thinking, dreaming, and imagining vocational thoughts, and then trusting in our own ingenuity and creativity to pull them off?
When it comes to how to find our place in life, we have a lot of avenues to choose from. Somewhere in it all there is God. There is endless competition with God out there. You will hear mentors and counselors and psychologists talk about VISUALIZATION, IMAGINING, POSITIVE THINKING, POSSIBILITY THINKING, SUBCONSCIOUS EMPOWERING, and on and on it goes.
Secular and religious humanists lead people to believe that their successful future is to be found in their COGNITIVE CRYSTAL BALL. It is what you think and imagine yourself being and becoming that is in fact what you can be, if you wish hard enough and believe strong enough in yourself for it. You know:
“WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR, IT MAKES
NO DIFFERENCE WHO YOU ARE, THE
DREAM WILL COME TRUE.”
It all sounds so DISNEY-WORLDISH, but I hate to bust your bubble! Sorry, pop goes the weasel. There are several huge problems with all of these PSYCH JOBS, and the main one the Prophet Jeremiah tells us about in Jeremiah 10:23,
“I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself; nor is it in
a man who walks to direct his steps.”
(Secular psychiatrists and guidance counselors and their counselees could save themselves a lot of futile research and searching if they would just consult the Word of God.)
Whoops! This is a huge problem right from the get-go! It is not in us! This means that the plan that God has for us, including our life’s calling, is not in our thoughts, our imaginations, or our dreams first of all. Let me say it again, “IT IS NOT IN US, PERIOD!” Hear it:
“OUR COGNITIVE CRYSTAL BALL IS NOT THE AUTHOR, DESIGNER, OR
PRODUCER OF OUR DIVINE DESTINY.”
Wow, we sure don’t want to blow it here, and step out of the will of God and step into our own concoctions. It is much easier to step into something that is not the will of God than it is to get out of it once we’re in it! How well many of us know that!
THE EXCLUSIVE DIVINE SOURCE
Well then, where is it? IN GOD! Oh my, we are back to God and His will again! Those God fanatics always in everything start there and end up there! They make everything a God-thing! I mean, a little bit of God will go a long way for many religious folks. But for most people, even religious ones, you can easily overdo this God-involvement stuff. A little dab of God will do ya! But after that, we are on our own.
Life is about positive and possibility thinking. Life is about imaging. Life is about sweet dreams. Life is about wishful thinking. Just as people today in the world and in the church want to define their own moral codes, so they want to chart their own courses.
Sorry, it isn’t what we imagine ourselves doing with our lives. It is what the Lord wants us to do with our lives. It is what the Lord has planned for us, not a vocational counselor or a prosperity guru. Do you think that Joseph in his coat of many colors was dreaming or imagining himself Prime Minister of Egypt? Jonah and Saul/Paul could never have imagined what God had planned for their lives. It was the farthest things from their minds, and God literally had to pound it into their heads with a sledge hammer. What was in them was not of God, in fact, it was of Satan and self.
It is all in God and not in us, and we too must find our way in God in order to find our way in life! And to many, this is about as foreign as CYBER SOURCING. It makes about as much sense as SATELLITE TRANSMISSION. All very complicated, but the simple point here is this:
“THE SIGNAL DOES COME FROM WITHIN US, RATHER, IT COMES
FROM ABOVE US.”
Someone says, “I have never heard of any of this before. I have never heard of THE DIVINE DESIGN AND PURPOSE OF OUR LIVES. I was always taught that it came from psychological and vocational counseling and testing, and then we take it from there. This is all new to me.” Yes I know, and it is to lots of people who have bought into humanism’s teaching that the way of man is in himself, that is, in his thoughts and imaginations and wishings and abilities.
There is only one place to go to! Go to God! God commands us in Proverbs 3:5-6,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own
understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will
make your paths straight.”
What part of that don’t we understand? It is a complete wipe-out of all this positive-possibility thinking and magic-carpet ride imagination stuff as our GPS.
Trust in the Lord! Focus on and rest in His presence, and not primarily on His purpose. We must first live a Divine presence-immersed life, and secondly a Divine purpose-Divine-directed life. Hear me:
“THE PURPOSE OF GOD IS IN HIS PRESENCE, AND ONLY WHEN WE
CONSTANTLY PRACTICE HIS PRESENCE WILL HIS PRESENCE
BE IN THE PURPOSE.”
I very strongly prefer to think and speak of a DIVINELY-DIRECTED LIFE, rather than a purpose-driven life. Christianity is not a cattle drive. Christianity is a shepherd-sheep relationship. Jesus the Good Shepherd said of Himself and His sheep in John 10:4,
“…He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him because they
know His voice.”
“CHRISTIANS ARE NOT DRIVEN, THEY ARE LED.”
He leads, we follow. Oh yes, he burns within us His purpose for our lives. I call it HOLY GHOST HEARTBURN. When He puts that call in your head and your heart, no amount of Alka-Seltzer will put the fire out. God first of all inspires us with the purpose, and then the God-filled purpose inspires us in service for God.
Don’t trust in your own mind! God and God alone knows and makes the path that we are to travel in life clear and direct. He alone has the map for our futures, for He drew it from all eternity. He will speak to our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and mark the way by His still small voice, and His opening to us doors of opportunities (Divine Providence). He alone can steer us straight.
The Lord promises His children His faithful and sure guidance as we read about Him promising to us in Isaiah 30:21,
“And your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk
in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left.”
Oh how I love that! I have made some wrong turns in my life, simply because in my stubbornness and self-willfulness I ignored the word/voice behind me. Oh I heard it alright, but went my own way. In each case, it was a bad decision. We sometimes must learn the hard way when we refuse God’s way!
I. PRAYING FOR GOD’S WILL IN OUR LIVES
Let set this straight before we dig into this:
“THOSE WHO DON’T REALLY BELIEVE THAT GOD HAS A PLAN FOR THEIR
LIVES ARE GENERALLY THE SAME PEOPLE WHO HAVE LIFELESS
PRAYERS AND PRAYERLESS LIVES.”
Someone might ask, “Just how do I get tuned in and turned on to what God has for me? So far it all sounds pretty complicated – mental engineering, positive thinking, possibility thinking, imaging, holding things in my subconscious, wishing etc. I think I have tried it all, although I am not sure, and I have gotten nowhere. How does this Christian-guidance thing work and how do I get started?”
Yes I know, hearing you talk reminds me of a man who stopped by the computer store where he had recently purchased a PC. He said to the salesman, “I have a question about a computer that I bought here the other day.” The salesman asked him, “What kind did you buy sir?” The customer said, “A Crimean Extravaganza Nineteen Hundred.” Asked the salesman, “Wow, that is really a nice computer. Do you need some add ons? Do you need some more memory? Do you need an accelerator board?” The customer responded, “No, no, you don’t understand. I just need to know how to turn the thing on!”
FIRST OF ALL, right here is where the “Road to Discovery” begins, and hear this real good:
“DO NOT FIRST OF ALL SEEK GUIDANCE, BUT SEEK THE GUIDE.”
We read the passion-filled words of Jeremiah 23:11-13,
“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for
welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
“Then you will call upon Me, and come and pray to Me, and I will listen
“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for me with all
“GOD DOES NOT TELL US FIRST TO SEEK HIS PLAN FOR THE FUTURE,
BUT TO SEEK HIM WITH ALL OUR HEART.”
Christianity is first of all a heart thing, not a head thing. Jesus is not first of all our guidance counselor, but rather, our Divine Husband. I remember how I felt after an entire afternoon of counseling, I couldn’t wait to get home to my wife and feel her soft cheek against mine. I needed to know that she loved me, and that the whole world had not gone crazy. God is wanting your entire heart first, last, and always. He wants us to make love to Him and He to us. Christianity if anything is a LOVE AFFAIR between God’s heart and our hearts. Listen now:
“CHRISTIANITY IS NOT FIRST OF ALL ASKING GOD, BUT ADORING GOD.”
Praise Him, exult Him, thank Him, love on Him, spend quality time with Him every day. Enjoy His company and let Him enjoy yours. Tell Him how much you adore Him and why. Most religious people don’t do that. Rather, they dial His number only when they need something. That is seeking things, but not seeking Him. SEEK HIM WITH ALL YOUR HEART! He first wants your heart, not your prayer list. Prayer is first a heart to heart love-life with our loving Heavenly Father, and not just constantly hitting upon Him for things.
We need to get this deep into us:
“PRAYER IS FIRST OF ALL A RELATIONSHIP THING, NOT FIRST OF ALL
A REQUEST THING.”
If we listen to ourselves pray, in the main we will come down with the embarrassing realization that most of our prayers to our Loving Lord are “please do this, please get me this, please help me with this, please take care of this.” If you will:
“THE MAJORITY OF OUR PRAYING DEALS WITH WHAT HE CAN DO
FOR US, AND NOT WHO AND WHAT HE IS TO US.”
Then we can ask Him about His plans for our lives, and what He wants us to be and do. But here it is:
“WE FIRST OF ALL MUST SEEK HIM WITH ALL OUR HEART BEFORE WE
CAN FIND HIS WILL FOR OUR LIVES. OTHERWISE ALL THAT HE IS
TO US IS A FORTUNE COOKIE OR CONFUCIUS SAYS.”
If you will:
“ONLY WHEN WE HAS OUR HEARTS WILL HE HOLD OUR HANDS AND
WILL HE GUIDE OUR FEET.”
Do we understand that? Really?
SECOND, we must hear the Word of God from the lips of Jesus in Matthew 7:7,
“ASK, and it shall be given you….”
I ask, what could be clearer than that?
We are to ASK GOD first of all, not ask our parents. Many parents have expectations and hidden agendas for their children. They want their children to become this or that. And all too often children become unhappy surfers being propelled upon a surging wave of parental objectives and goals for their lives. Our children must never be driven to a certain calling or enterprise as the means of gaining the approval from their Dad and Mom. Status, recognition, and materialism are so often in the mix.
And then the Word of God from the pen of James in James 4:2,
“…You do not have because you do not ASK.”
We have not because we THINK not? No! We have not because we POSITIVIZE not? No! We have not because we POSSIBILIZE not? No! We have not because we IMAGINE not? No! We have not because we DREAM not? No! We have not because we WISH not? No! The Bible says that we have not because we ASK not.
It is really embarrassing when you let yourself truly think about what God is saying to us. Do you mean to say Lord that it is as simple as ASKING YOU AND THEN RECEIVING FROM YOU YOUR COUNSEL AS TO YOUR WILL FOR MY LIFE’S CALLING? It has to be more complex than that! It sounds too good to be true!
It is amazing where and what men look to for direction in their lives. “It is all in the stars and planets,” say the ASTROLOGERS. You know how it goes, in that they were born under the sign of this planet or that star, and that will determine whether you will be a thief or a timber cutter. They believe that the sun or moon or planets can move their will this way or that way, and cause them to choose one way and not another way.
Not only do the SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC determine what we choose, but who we are. As in this astrology song by Harvey Sid Fisher:
“VIRGO HAD TO KNOW THE WHY, THE WHO, WHAT, WHEN AND WHERE, I WORK
TO REACH PERFECTION AND THEN IMPROVE FROM THERE. I’LL STRETCH A
DOLLAR TILL IT SQUEAKS, I’LL GO ON SAVING SPREES, I’LL
THINK SO HARD I WILL NOT SEE THE FOREST FOR THE
TREES. VIRGO VIRGO VIRGO.”
Because ole Sid is under the sign of Virgo, he is a perfectionist, a tightwad, and an over-analyzer.
Natural man is so willing to be deceived, and Satan is always more than willing to deceive him. What the natural man does not realize is this:
“IT IS NOT IN THE PLANETS ABOVE HIS HEAD, BUT IN THE LORD JESUS WHO
HOLDS ALL OF THE STARS AND PLANETS IN THEIR PLACES. ONLY
HE CAN PUT US IN OUR PLACES TOO.”
“THE HUMAN CREATURE SCORNS THE CONTROL OF THE CREATOR, BUT BOWS
BEFORE THE WILL OF THE CREATED.”
“MAN BY NATURE WOULD RATHER SEEK IMAGINED GUIDANCE FROM
SOMETHING TOTALLY UNLIKE HIM, THAN ASK THE ONE IN WHOSE
LIKENESS HE HAS BEEN MADE.”
It is just another example of what the Apostle Paul said in the first place about spiritually and morally retarded humanity in Romans 1:25,
“For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served
the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever. Amen”
If you will:
“EVERY TIME GOD BY HIS WORD AND SPIRIT MAKES GOOD SENSE, MAN
PREFERS THE DEVIL’S NONSENSE.”
THIRD, don’t lose heart. There are some of you out there right now who are seeking God’s purpose for your lives, including some of my grandchildren. You aren’t getting as yet that clear, Holy Spirit confirmed direction. Remember Jesus’ instruction to is disciples in Luke 18:1,
“…that at all times they should pray and not lose heart.”
Those of you who are unsure about your future and God’s plan for your life, even though you have prayed and prayed, don’t ever stop praying! Here is where the rubber hits the prayer road, and it can be a longer road than you thought it would be. Keep on asking! Don’t panic! Don’t get discouraged!
-You may be going through a dark tunnel, but the light will come. Don’t lose heart! It may be that God wants to keep you right where you are, at least for a time. Remember:
“THE GRASS IS NOT ALWAYS GREENER ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE
FENCE. THE GRASS IS GREENER WHERE YOU WATER IT.”
Praise and thank Him in the now, and He will make it plain!
-For others of you, God has been trying for years to get you from where you are to where He wants you to be. He has been attempting to birth His purpose in your life, and the good news is that it is never too late with God. Maybe you have lost heart because what He is speaking to you and showing you, looks too difficult and out of reach to you. You have to grab on to what now follows, and shake loose from it if the fallacy of it has grabbed on to you:
“THERE IS A GREAT AND CONFINING FALLACY RUNNING THROUGH ALL
OF US, AND THAT IS THAT WE MISTAKE DIFFICULTIES FOR
IMPOSSIBILITIES, AND THEREBY WE SUBSTITUTE
INABILITY FOR DUTY.”
What does the Lord say? We read in Luke 1:37,
“FOR NOTHING WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD.”
Hear it, and do not lose heart because of the cost or the feeling of inability. One should not be surprised that what the GREAT GOD calls us to do appears to be way beyond us. Of course it should, because it is all designed for His glory and not for our convenience. Take this deep into your heart:
“WHEN IT COMES TO GOD’S WILL FOR OUR LIVES, DIFFICULTIES ARE IN
FACT THE OPEN DOORS TO OUR DIVINE DESTINY. ALWAYS!”
-Someone else reading this has had a Holy Spirit heartburn in you for something your entire adult life, but you have never followed through. Now you have lost heart because you think that you are too old. And now you are saying to yourself that by the time you get there, you will be way too old. Might I ask you, “How old will you be when you don’t get there?” Age is never the primary factor, the call of God is!
There was this lady who was very pregnant, went into labor and waited too long to go to the hospital. She didn’t make it, though she did get into the hospital but gave birth on the elevator. She was so embarrassed. She apologized again and again to the nurses. One of the nurses said, “Don’t be embarrassed, for a couple of years ago there was a lady who didn’t even make it to the elevator. She gave birth on the hospital lawn.” And the woman said, “That was me too.” Better late than never!
-And then there might be those of you who have a deep and defined stirring, but nothing has opened up for you yet. Don’t lose heart! Don’t get impatient with God! Remember the words of Psalm 37:7,
“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him….”
The most harmful thing in the world is try to speed God up. Abraham was guilty of trying to hurry things along. Abraham fathered Ishmael with Hagar, and we have had the feud between the Arabs and the Jews ever since Abraham got in a rush. Quickie prayers are the sign that you are growing impatient. Quickie prayers lead to quickie decisions, and quickie decisions are generally bad decisions. This is not poetry, this is prose. This is not exaggeration. It is if anything an understatement. It cannot be overstated.
FOURTH, and listen closely now. We are to constantly pray our way through life first of all. But just as importantly:
“WE ARE TO TRUST OUR WAY THROUGH LIFE, NOT FIRST OF ALL
REASON OUR WAY THROUGH LIFE.”
Hear the well-known but still not fully grasped words of Proverbs 3:5,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your
We are not anywhere told by God to first of all think our way through life. How is that for a shocker to modern “MINDMAN?” We are primarily to be “PRAYERMAN” AND “TRUSTMAN.” We are not first of all to brain our way through life, but to bow our way through life.
“BRAINING OUR WAY THROUGH LIFE AS THE PRIMARY ROAD TO DISCOVERY
WILL OFTEN END UP THINKING OURSELVES OUT OF THE
MIND OF CHRIST.”
We are told this:
“LEAN NOT AT ALL ON YOUR BRAIN, BUT LEAN TOTALLY UPON
Someone undoubtedly is saying, “How nuts is this? This preacher is telling us not to use our heads.” Of course this preacher is not saying anything of the kind. We are to love the Lord with all out mind. What he is saying is what he heard a preacher once say, “If you have a brain in your head you will pray at all times, and only when you pray at all times (Ephesians 6:18) can you even dare to use the brain in your head.” He was right on! Only then will we hear the voice of God giving us a nudge in the right way, decision by decision. God’s people were never meant to be primarily “MINDMEN!” They were created by God to be “TRUSTMEN” and “PRAYERMEN.”
FIFTH, then we can either choose to obey God’s voice, or turn a deaf ear to Him and grope our way through the darkness. As William MacDonald observed, “For everyone who deliberately makes a choice, there are probably three who simply drift. They think of themselves as the pawns of chance or luck. They are fatalists. But, still, they have made their choice, and that choice is to drift along and take whatever comes.”(William MacDonald, “Think of Your Future,” Page 25)
Christians want to avoid the drift. Christians want with all their hearts only what God has for them. They want God’s will more than life itself. Just like their Master, Jesus Christ. Not my will, but God’s will be done! Only those who yield their all to God will receive His guidance and avoid the drift.
Here is how praying for the will of God for our lives truly sounds. As William MacDonald points out, “Betty Stam made life’s great commitment nine years before she was martyred. She wrote in her Bible, ‘Lord, I give up my own purposes and plans, and all my desires, hopes and ambitions (whether they be fleshly or soulish), and I accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all utterly to Thee, to be Thine forever. I hand over to Thy keeping all my friendships. All the people whom I love are to take second place in my heart. Fill me with thy Holy Spirit. Work out Thy whole will for my life, at any cost, now and forever. To me to live is Christ.’”(William MacDonald, “Think of Your Future,” Page37)
God took her at her word. Betty and her husband John were called by God to be missionaries in a small town called Jingle near the eastern coast of China. Not exactly the stuff dreams are made of. Christianity is not a dream world. Christianity is in the real and raw world of life and death, love and hatred, light and darkness, befriending and beheading. John and Betty were killed by the communists. John was beheaded, and Betty was killed a few moments later. Because for John and Betty to live was Christ, for them to die was gain!
William Whiting Borden of Yale made his life’s great commitment but a few years before he died of cerebral meningitis in Egypt while en route to China with the Gospel. In 1912, he offered himself to God for the China Inland Mission. He studied in Cairo, Egypt to learn Arabic. He was stricken with cerebrospinal meningitis. He died at age 26. He had once prayed, “Lord Jesus, I take hands off, as far as my life is concerned. I put Thee on the throne of my heart. Change, cleanse, use me as Thou shalt choose. I take the full power of Thy Holy Spirit. I thank Thee.”(William MacDonald, “Think of Your Future,” Page 37)
Only when we yield ourselves unreservedly to God will we be able to hear His voice calling us. Hear it:
“IN RELIGIOUS HUMANISM, MAN USES GOD FOR HIS PURPOSES, BUT
IN CHRISIANITY, GOD USES MAN FOR HIS PURPOSES.”
I am not talking about becoming a preacher or a missionary. It may well be that God is calling you to be a plumber or postman. What is important is, “God, use me, just as you will, when and where! I lay myself and all that I am and have before you” Do we have the courage to pray that prayer? That alone gets God’s attention. That alone assures us that our lives will not be wasted, we will avoid the drift, and we will not be dreaming man’s dream but God’s.
Almost all of us will ever receive correspondence in our lives from the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize Committees. Probably all that we will get down here is mailings from Publisher’s Clearing House. But all that matters is that one day we will receive the highest accolade one can ever receive, as our Lord says to us:
“WELL DONE GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT.”
II. FASTING FOR GOD’S WILL IN OUR LIVES
Here “The Road to Discovery” passes by all of the “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” along the way. That means, no matter what Burger King says, “We Can’t Always Have It Our Way.”
It is thoroughly Biblical to say that THE PRAYER ROAD by itself is not enough, and by itself will not lead us to real discovery. It must be accompanied by another spiritual discipline – FASTING! Hear me:
“PRAYER AND FASTING ARE THE TWO WINGS OF DEVOTION, AND WE CANNOT
FLY TO GOD’S THRONE OF DISCOVERY AND ENABLEMENT
ON JUST ONE.”
That is the Bible’s dynamic duo, not mental engineering and imaging. They not only empower us in our struggle against sin and Satan in order to overcome them, but to help us hear from God and powerfully walk the rugged road that He would have us to travel. Indeed:
“CHRISTIANITY MUST HAVE THESE TWO – PRAYER AND FASTING – TO EVEN
EXIST, LET ALONE THRIVE.”
Jesus said in Matthew 6:5,
“And when you pray.”
He did not say,
“And if you pray.”
Jesus said in Matthew 6:16,
“And whenever you fast.”
He did not say,
“If ever you fast.”
Modern Christians overeat and under fast, if they fast at all. They do go on crash diets on occasion, and then once again gorge themselves into obesity. Most modern church people are more interested in gourmet cooking than they are in Biblical fasting. In fact, they have attended churches their entire lives and never once were taught about or challenged with the need for fasting for Divine guidance in their lives.
The problem is:
“SOME OF US ARE PROFESSING CHRISTIANS, BUT NOT
George Bernard Shaw exposed us when he stated:
“WHAT A MAN BELIEVES MAY BE ASCERTAINED NOT FROM HIS CREED,
BUT FROM THE ASSUMPTIONS ON WHICH HE HABITUALLY ACTS.”
Jesus assumed that we would pray and fast! No doubt about it!
Writes David Redding in his book, “Faith Of Our Fathers,”
“IF A FARMER PRAYED IN THE FIELDS NOW, HE WOULD STOP CARS. WE
ASSUME ANY SIGN OF BELIEF TO BE BOGUS. THAT IS HOW
FAR FAITH HAS FLED.”
“SELDOM WAS THERE ANYTHING GREAT OR HOLY ACCOMPLISHED
IN THE BIBLE WITHOUT FASTING.”
Bodily abstinence with prayer is double strength to the spirit of man. The ways of Religious Humanism and Biblical Christianity are vastly different.
Prayer and fasting are true soul food. It goes all the way back to Moses. When Moses was being prepared to receive the law of God, it was with fasting. (Deuteronomy 9:9) When Jesus began His great earthly ministry leading to His atoning sacrifice on the cross, He did so through forty days of fasting. (Matthew 4:2) If Jesus had not denied His flesh, He would have been weakened in His spirit. If His table had always been spread with flesh food rather than spirit food, then I ask the Holy Spirit to allow me to adapt what the Psalmist said in Psalm 69:22 to Jesus Christ,
“The table would have been His snare.”
Jesus would not have set His face to Jerusalem and ultimately to Calvary had He not fasted. Hear it good:
“FLESH MUST BE DENIED BEFORE THE SPIRITUAL CAN FULLY AND
CLEARLY BE EMBRACED.”
“WE CAN ONLY HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS WHEN WE
DENY OUR HUNGER AND THIRST FOR EVERYTHING ELSE.”
The Christian Church, from its very inception, heard from God and found its way by prayer and fasting. We read in Acts 13:2-3,
“And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy
Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to
whichI have called them.’”
“Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on
them, they sent them away.”
Church history points to this moment as the time when “Christian Missions” was truly birthed, and the first Christian missionaries were sent forth by Christ through His church. Who these missionaries were to be, and where they were to go in order to do the work that the Holy Spirit called them to, flowed from the spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting.
Without prayer and fasting in the Christian life, we are grasping at shadows. Without both of these as part and parcel of normal Christian living, we will not be able to hear God’s voice amidst the crowded streets and seductive calls that will sweep us away and lure us in the wrong direction. Barnabas and Saul were swept along “The Road To Discovery” by the Holy Spirit, for we read in Acts 13:4,
“So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia,
and from there they sailed to Cyprus.”
A very quick but most important truth must be spoken here. Prayer doesn’t get past our noses when we are embracing and living in sin. We read in Psalm 66:18,
“If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”
Likewise, if we are entertaining sinfulness while we are fasting, it will not get past our stomachs. We are living in the shallowest day in the church, when sinners are being held, patted, kissed, and constantly paroled. Prayer and fasting are futile in such a permissive apostasy.
Get this straight:
“IT IS FIRST OF ALL THE HEART EMPTY OF SIN THAT GOD DESIRES,
NOT THE STOMACH EMPTY OF FOOD.”
And again, fasting in the Bible was often connected with wearing sackcloth and ashes, but the fact is:
“GOD IS FAR MORE CONCERNED THAT WE BE CLOTHED WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS
ON OUR HEARTS, THAN WITH BURLAP AND DUST ON OUR BONES.”
III. LISTENING FOR GOD’S WILL IN OUR LIVES
Then on “The Road to Discovery,” we must listen to the voice of His Spirit speaking to us as read again these awesome words in Isaiah 30:21,
“And your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk
in it, whenever you turn tothe right or to the left.”
Lock coordinates into His guidance. Listening for and to His voice! Normal Christianity! Let’s face it, God has a very hard time getting through to 21st humanity, including Christians. They are too occupied, and I mean constantly occupied with watching television, than to be able to hear from God. If they spent as much time before God as they do before their living room Cyclops, I have no doubt they would hear from God much more clearly.
We live in a TV addicted society, and that includes church people. A man showed up at church with his ears painfully blistered. After the service, his concerned pastor asked, “What in the world happened to you?” The man replied, “I was lying on the couch yesterday afternoon watching a ballgame on TV and my wife was ironing nearby. I was totally engrossed in the game when she left the room leaving the iron nearby. The phone rang and keeping my eyes glued to the television, I grabbed the hot iron and put it to my ear.” The pastor asked, “So how did the other ear get burned?” He said, “Well, I had no sooner put the phone down and the guy called again.”
More than that, many old-line, mainline denominational churchgoers in America in all of this are closer to Religious Humanism than to the authentic Christian experience. It is much more comfortable for them to be self-guided and self-reliant than to be God-guided and God-reliant.
Oh yes, church folks can be very religious about their religion. Doctrines! Traditions! Rituals! But this mysticism and fanaticism about seeking God at all times and about all things, and then literally hearing His voice speaking in response, well, that is just too super-spiritual and far too super-rational. This they feel makes men extremists as they are so viewed by typical self-reliant churchgoers. Though they will sing at Easter, not really knowing what they are actually saying,
“He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.”
They really don’t believe that song. If they did, they would stop calling those who practice it the far-out mystically and emotionally affected ones.
However, don’t think that you will hear from God one word when you persist in neglecting the Word of God. God is not a dog who barks when we say, “Speak!” The Voice behind you will only come when you are listening to the Word of God right in front of you – the Holy Bible.
I find it hard to talk to those people who I can tell are not listening to me. Their eyes are all over the place, and all they are waiting for is for me to stop talking so they can start. I won’t even try to give counsel or advice to such people even when they say they want it, for they don’t really care about you or what you are saying. God feels the same way, as He says about such frustrating people in Matthew 13:15,
“…and with their ears they scarcely hear….”
“YOUR LIFE MUST BE ATTENTIVE TO THE WORD OF GOD, BEFORE YOU
CAN BE ASSURED THAT GOD WILL BE ATTENTIVE
TO YOUR WORDS.”
Let your life show that you are attentive to the God of the Word before you can expect to hear a word from God. That is how it works. Pilots, so I am told, must go through intensive training to retrain their minds and their instincts not to adhere to what they think and feel as to what is up and down, but to believe the instruments and to lock coordinates into them. So we must constantly and prayerfully believe what God is telling us, and lock coordinates into God and His Word, and not into our own understanding. A “Word of God Fixation” is required!
God’s promise to speak to us and guide us into His will for our lives is one of the most awesome assurances in the Word of God. And your ears will hear a word behind you,
“This is the way, walk in it.”
Jesus says in John 10:27,
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they
Abraham, known as the father of all believers, lived by faith in the same way that all of us must live our lives. Eighteen hundred years before the birth of Christ, a man by the name of Abram, who was 75 years old at the time, lived in a region of a country that today would be known as Iraq. God spoke to him and told him to get out of town. He believed God. He immediately set out for a new land which God had promised to show him.
Over and over again, we read in the Bible words like,
“And God said unto him.”
For many devout denominationalists, that no longer takes place! They have God not alive and speaking into their lives, but embalmed in what they refer to as “Bible Times.” Their faces stiffen when someone talks about God speaking to them. If they were honest, they would say, “I don’t know much about that. I have a hard time believing that. I have never heard God speak. I really don’t know what you mean by that.” What a shame and a tragedy! It never occurs to them that the reason they don’t hear God is that they are not listening for God. In fact, their spiritual hearing apparatus is not even turned on because they have been taught that God no longer speaks person to person.
But the harsh truth is that he who will not hear God will be in reality a disobedient servant. To be sure, we cannot do the will of God without hearing it from God. But equally true is that we can hear the will of God for our lives without doing it. In either case:
“MAN WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE NOT ONLY FOR THE WORDS THAT
HE HAS HEARD FROM GOD, BUT ALSO FOR THE WORDS THAT
HE SHOULD HAVE HEARD BUT DIDN’T.”
I have over the years come to understand more clearly why God speaks to us in the still small voice. It is because He wants to grow us up spiritually. He wants to strengthen our faith in Him and deepen our dependence upon Him. God could shout at us I suppose, but then we would not have to draw near to Him. We would only have to be in shouting distance, and our relationship with Him would be distant too. But now we must be still and close to Him in order to hear His voice. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)
That is Christianity!
“GOD WILL NOT SPEAK TO THOSE WHO AS A WAY OF LIFE DO NOT SPEAK
TO HIM AS A WAY OF LIFE.”
“THOSE WHO DO NOT SPEAK TO GOD WILL NOT BE LISTENING FOR
“IF WE DO NOT SET ASIDE EACH DAY A SIGNIFICANT TIME TO SPEAK WITH
GOD, NO DOUBT THAT NEITHER WILL WE SET ASIDE A TIME
TO HEAR FROM GOD.”
“ALL OF THIS COMES DOWN TO THE FACT THAT MANY RELIGIOUS FOLK
TALK AT GOD, BUTSELDOM IF EVER DO THEY TALK WITH HIM.”
You say, “I don’t hear any of this in my church. All I hear about is self-belief, positive and possibility thinking, and tapping into my unlimited potential.” Yes, I know! But now you know the choice. Positive thinking, imaging, and wishing hard – Religious Humanism! Prayer, fasting, and listening – Christianity! The choice could not be clearer. Amen!*
*Vast segments taken from Bob Klingenberg’s book, “Modern Christianity Corrupted.” There are no copyright restrictions on anything in this article. God bless!