Key Six — Commit Yourself to Prayer and Fasting

The sixth of our steps to excellence in ministry is to commit ourselves to a lifestyle of prayer and fasting.

Prayer

Prayer is the foundation for success in every Christian endeavor.

Jesus is our example.

Have you noticed how often the Bible mentions that he withdrew to a lonely and solitary place to pray?

In fact, if you study it out you’ll see that Jesus moved from one place of prayer to the next and in between, the Power flowed!

Mark 1:35King James Version (KJV)

35And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

Luke 6:12King James Version (KJV)

12And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

These are just two of the many instances recorded in the gospels.

Jesus was in continual communication with God through prayer. 

He spent hours every day separated from the people, fellowshipping with His Heavenly Father.

If he had the need for preparation through prayer, how much more should we? 

In fact, such foundation and preparation is the only thing that will keep us together when we’re faced with the situations that require a great deal of faith.

Even the apostles recognized this need!

They chose deacons to assist them in their duties, saying:

Acts 6:2-4King James Version (KJV)

2Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

3Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

4But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

If we have taken the time to saturate our minds and hearts with the word of God – to the extent that we’re single-minded on that word, our thinking will no longer be influenced by doubt, fear, and unbelief.

We will stop wailing and begging God for power to do the job.

We’ll experience the truth of 1John 2:27; Which promises the anointing that abides or remains in us.

1 John 2:27King James Version (KJV)

27But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

All we have to do is open our mouth and of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

The word will be what is in your heart in abundance and that is what will come out. 

Prayer and study are the keys.

The anointing is there – we have, past tense, received it

But it is accessed and released by prayer.

Our ministry will be severely limited if we’re not prepared to base it on fellowship with God.

It is in our prayer time; more specifically, time spent praying in the spirit –that we will find out what God would have us say in the moment and how to conduct ourselves.

Nothing can be substituted for prayer. 

Fasting

Now, a few words on a very popular subject – fasting!

We won’t get into the nuts and bolts and specifics on how to fast – that’s a book all by itself.

Contrary to popular belief, fasting was not given to us as a spiritual discipline that helps us convince God to do something he doesn’t want to do or influence Him to act on our behalf.

Abstaining from food does not impress God!

The purpose of fasting is to shut off the influence of the flesh in order to become even more in tune with the spirit.

It brings areas to the surface that need correction so you can deal with them in light of the word.

It will keep us keen to the voice of God for guidance– both for our own lives and the lives of others for whom we are interceding.

We must be very careful not to fast in order to receive visions or apparitions from the Lord.  Why?

Because Satan would love to step in and manifest himself as an “angel of light” in order to deceive you!

Make a quality decision not to seek dreams and visions.

If the Lord sees fit to bring them that’s great!

But we have to determine to base our faith on and receive our revelation from the Word of God alone!

Why?

Because, anything we receive, aside from the Word of God will not produce faith. 

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

Fasting helps us receive from God but it does not push God to action.

Faith is all it takes to move God to exercise of power for you.

The problem is not God’s unwillingness to help us or his inability to intervene on behalf. 

The problem is the believer’s spiritual density!

It’s our inability to understand and receive what Christ has already provided to Calvary.

Fasting is simply a tool that puts us in a position to be more spiritually sensitive and “tuned in” to God, so we can better receive from him.

Let’s talk about the rewards of fasting:

Matthew 6:17-18King James Version (KJV)

17But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

18That 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.

The reward of fasting is whatever motivated you to fast in the first place.

Whatever it is, establish it by faith and declare it before you even start to fast.

Expect to receive it! 

God will see in secret and reward you openly.

Perhaps you’re fasting for no other reason than to fellowship with God.

That is a sound reason and you will receive your reward of divine fellowship.

You may be fasting to better understand something from the Word of God that you know he has been trying to reveal to you, but you haven’t been able to grasp it, yet.

That understanding can be the reward you seek during your fast.

Perhaps you have been praying for an unsaved family member.  Your fast can be undertaken as a time a special intercession.

Declare the purpose of the fast and that will be the reward.

Key Five–Look to the Word Day and Night

Proverbs 4:20-21King James Version (KJV)

20 My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.

21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.

Joshua 1:8King James Version (KJV)

“8This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

When the going gets tough, the pressure builds, and it seems like everyone in the world and all hell together are arrayed against you, God demands that you walk by the Word and nothing else.

The Psalmist said:

Psalm 119:97 King James Version (KJV)

97O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.

Closely related to step four,

Key Five to Effective Ministry is to look to the Word day and night.

Looking to the Word will produce several effects on your life and ministry you simply cannot get any other way.

Proverbs 4:5-9King James Version (KJV)

5Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.

6Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.

7Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

8Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.

9She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.

The ornament referred to here, is being clothed with the favor of God.

It is the result of seeking God’s wisdom by exalting his Word, which in turn brings divine favor.

The wisdom of God places a Crown of Glory (God’s grace or favor) upon your head.

This grace, or favor of God, is available to every person on earth, without exception.  Remember, “God is no respecter of persons.”

However, there are conditions.

Favor cannot be earned.  It is the gift of God you do not merit it; you receive it.

Although it is for all, God’s grace is not automatic.  It must be appropriated by the believer through faith.

We already know that “faith comes by hearing and hearing, by the word of God.”

The basis for receiving God’s favor is through faith. 

Therefore, you receive God’s favor through the Word.

The Word promotes.

If we will refrain from self-promotion and refuse to exalt ourselves, but, instead lift up the word of God – then He will promote us and bring us to a place of honor. 

Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:6-7King James Version (KJV)

6Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

7Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

We humble ourselves by:

  • Placing ourselves in God’s hands
  • Casting all our cares upon him
  • Holding our tongues
  • Refusing to pull strings or vying for power

Look, you might get what you desire!

But if you wrangle it on your own, then you will have to maintain it on your own without any help from the Spirit of God.

If he didn’t place you in a position, he’s not obligated to sustain you there. 

You will be responsible for your own failures.

Why all this time in the Word?

Think about what I asked earlier:

How effective do we want to be?

A music major in college practices hours every day.  Olympic skaters spend 6 to 8 hours daily in training routines.

We as ministers, ought to discipline ourselves in the Word constantly – especially in our beginning years.

We must permeate our minds with the Word and solid Bible-based sermons.

We must do whatever it takes to become totally saturated with the Word.

Many of you have done that for years.  The rest of us will benefit from your example.

A side benefit of looking to the Word :

Looking to the Word, helps control your flesh.

Psalm 119:11King James Version (KJV)

11Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

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Hebrews 5:12-14King James Version (KJV)

12For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

13For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

People have the mistaken idea that as Christians, we have to fight against carnality until Jesus comes to free the body of Christ.

This is not true! 

Sound strange?  Listen:

We simply have to learn to consistently walk in the spirit.

We must walk in the spirit in order not to fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16King James Version (KJV)

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

The body has no nature of its own.  It will do whatever it is told.

Many people have said, “When you’re born again.  The nature of God is in your spirit, but the adamic nature is in your body.”

Hey folks!  That is simply not a true statement! 

In the first place, sin was never Adam’s nature.  Adam’s original nature was perfection – he had the nature of God!

After the fall, satan’s nature took root in him and caused the problems.

Adam invited that nature through his high treason.

But it wasn’t in his body.  It was in his spirit.  His body was trained to follow his spirit.

Now, lest you think I’m somehow talking about “sinless perfection.” Let’s be clear.  I am not!  But we can sin less.

Our bodies will do whatever they are trained to do. 

If our reborn human spirit dominates our flesh, more of our actions will be Godly ones.

Did you ever notice that we can sin without even thinking about it? 

Most people sin without even trying – it just comes “naturally”! 

How then can we ever hope to overcome this situation?

The answer is found in Romans 12:1-2:

Present your body as a sacrificial offering to God. 

Reprogram yourself to automatically act on the word in obedient faith.

In sports, it is called “muscle memory.”

You repeat an action so often, that it becomes unconscious.

By continuing to put the Word of God into your mind, spirit, and body, you will eventually come to a place where the Word controls all three.

When that happens, the spirit becomes the dominant force in your life and everything else will conform to it.

We will have become separated from the world and we will have become Word controlled.

Key Four — Strip away all Else

Just before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed a special prayer for his disciples.

John 17:17-18King James Version (KJV)

17Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

18As thou hast sent me into the world, even so, have I also sent them into the world.

As we all know, to sanctify means to “separate” or “set apart.”

We are separated from sin and set apart unto righteousness so, to have an effective ministry – Key Four helps us to remember that we must strip away everything in the world from our lives until there is nothing left but the Word and things of God.

Sin

One of the first and most important things that must be rooted out is sin and sin consciousness!

The sin part is, I think, fairly obvious.

But what do I mean by “sin-consciousness”?

How many times have you heard, or ever said, like me: “I’m just an old sinner, saved by grace”?

The Bible truth – which is often hard for us to understand and accept is that we were sinners; but now, we have been saved by grace.

Since the time of our new birth, we’ve been made the righteousness of God in Christ!

2 Corinthians 5:21King James Version (KJV)

21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Consider:

1 Corinthians 1:30King James Version (KJV)

30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

What am I trying to say?  Or, more importantly – not say?

Do we still sin?  Of course we do!

But when we sin, we then go on to access and appropriate our right standing with God by confessing our sin and receiving forgiveness.

He is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us.

For our part, we must begin to emphasize our right standing with God.

When we help people get born again, we need to teach them “who they are in Christ,” and what a glorious inheritance they have, not, “over yonder” but right now, because of what he has done for us.

Second – we must strip away negative confessions.

Don’t confess that you are sick, sinful, needy, weak and fearful.

 Find out what God has to say about you in His Word and begin to confess those things instead.

Say to yourself:

  • I’m the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.
  • By his stripes, I am healed
  • The joy of the Lord is my strength.
  • The Lord meets all my needs according to his riches in Glory by Christ Jesus.

Begin to confess what the Word says you are.

The Lord is plain – He says what He means and means what He says.

His word is truth! 

We must learn to control our speech.

Matthew 12:34-37King James Version (KJV)

34O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

35A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

36But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

37For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

For example:

We take for granted, common expressions in clichés.

  • I was scared to death, or
  • That tickled me to death or
  • I’m just dying to see that!

We must rid ourselves of this kind of thinking!

Do it out of respect for Jesus!

Do it out of respect for the word!

Let’s began to express ourselves, based on the truth of that word! 

Besides, expressions like this are simply untrue.

You weren’t scared to death; you weren’t tickled to death.  You were never even close to death.

But we pick up these expressions and they become such a habit that we’re not aware of what we are really saying.

When we have grown to the point in our spiritual lives where we have confidence in the integrity of our own words; we won’t have any difficulty believing the absolute truth of God’s word.

We must get rid of our “idle words.”

As ministers of the Gospel; whether it’s pulpit ministry or the ministry of the saints, we set the example.

We must make absolutely sure that what we say is accurate, true, and honest.

Thirdly, get rid of spiritual junk food!

Romans 12:2King James Version (KJV)

2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Put the Word of God first in your life and let it strip away all the other things.

That’s not to say we can’t relax and have personal and family time.  But, none of these principles will work while we sit and watch TV day and night.

There are habits we must break sometimes!

By putting God first — we are establishing priorities.

Ever get bored?  I know I do!

Boredom indicates that our Word level is low.

It has been put into second place to some natural, physical thing. 

These are not necessarily sins per se – most are simply time wasters.

A steady diet of newspapers and social media, ( Facebook, Twitter etc.), is harmful to our spiritual well-being, just as junk food is to our physical health.

We simply cannot feed on carnal distractions and be effective ministers of Jesus Christ.

The media generally dwells on the negative side of life – wars, inflation, accidents, death, conflicts.

The Bible says in Matthew 13:22, that the cares and worries of the world will choke the word.

We must not allow the worldly media and circumstances around us to determine what we believe. We must instead, put our trust in God alone and what His Word says.

Everything in moderation!  That’s the key! 

Nothing wrong with reading the newspaper. 

But for some, reading their Bible the way they read the newspaper, would make all the difference in the world.

Finally, lay aside the cares of the world!

Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us to, “be careful for nothing”, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let our requests be made known unto God.  And when we do that, it assures us that: the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard or keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Let’s say we have a problem or face a crisis.

 By focusing on the situation – we begin to act out of fear and even panic, rather than by faith and the promise of God.

Some say, “Well brother, we’re only human!”

That’s simply no longer true! 

We are sons and daughters of the Most High God.

By allowing ourselves to be consumed by the problem; doubt, fear, and confusion can take over.

If we do that, we simply close the door to what God wants to give.

We must let the Word of God separate us from the cares of the world. 

For example: for pressing needs, find the scriptures that promise that the Lord will meet our needs.

Matthew 6:33King James Version (KJV)

33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 7:7King James Version (KJV)

7Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

Philippians 4:19King James Version (KJV)

19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

So, number four in the Keys to Effective Ministry is to Strip away all but the Word!

The Holy Ghost will always lead us in accordance with the Word, so our victory is assured.