Hey everybody, pastor Jason here. Welcome to Refuge. Church
online. It is so good to see you today. Our prayer team, our staff
has been praying because today we're going to be focusing in on
prayer and fasting. Tomorrow. We kick off 21 days of prayer and
fasting in 2021. This is something we've done every year since
we've started church. And I believe that God is going to use it.
Just draw us closer to him. I'm excited about what he's going to
do today, and I'm excited about what he's going to do in the next
three weeks ahead of us. Hey, let's pray together. Before we jump
into God's word today. Welcome again to Refuge Church online.
Jesus. We love you so much. We thank you for this morning. We
thank you for the opportunity to worship you. God, wherever we're
at, whatever we're doing this morning, father, we just want to
We want to focus in on Jesus. We want to worship you and we want
to hear your voice today. Jesus, we're just asking, would you
speak to us a fresh and a new this morning? Jesus, would you draw
us closer to yourself in 2021? We want to be everything we were
created to be. We want you to be pleased. We want to hear well
done. My good and faithful servant Jesus. This morning is for you.
We dedicate this time to you today and it's in Jesus' name. We
pray and everyone said, amen. Hey, like I said, this morning, we
are kicking off 21 days of prayer and fasting in 2021. We've done
this every year. Since we launched as a church, this is all about
starting our year praying first and today, we want to specifically
discuss the biblical discipline of fasting. Fasting is voluntarily
going without food or media influence in order to focus on prayer
and fellowship with God.
And you may be thinking to yourself, Jason, don't you teach about
this every year. Absolutely I do because I believe in the power of
prayer and fasting, I believe what it does in our church. I
believe in what it does in our individual lives. And listen, we
are going to continue. As long as this church is here, we are
going to pray in fast every year, focusing in on Jesus, because
fasting is all about disconnecting with this world so that we can
connect more with God. This isn't about God taking something away
from you. It's about our willingness to give up anything,
anything, even food. If it is getting in the way of a closer
relationship with him. Now, there has not been a lot of emphasis
on fasting in churches today, but there is a lot of emphasis on
fasting in the Bible. Moses David, Elijah, Ezra, Esther, Daniel,
Paul, new tests, church leaders, and even Jesus fasted.
In fact, if we look in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus kind of
assumes that this is just a discipline, that going to be a regular
part of our faith and Matthew six 16, he says, and when you fast
in verse 17, he said, but when you fast in Matthew nine 15, Jesus
says, do wedding guests more and while celebrating with the groom,
of course not. But someday the grim will be taken away from them.
And then they will fast. Jesus taught and spoke about fasting all
of the Tom in his ministry. And you may be watching or listening
this morning. And this idea of prayer and fasting is new to you.
Or maybe, maybe you have fasted in the past, but you didn't feel
like it had a great benefit in your life. Listen to me this
morning, the Bible is clear that God is a rewarder of those who
seek him.
I love this verse from Hebrews 11, verse six, and it is impossible
to please God, without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must
believe that God exists. And he rewards those who sincerely seek
him. And remember what the scriptures also say, if we will draw
near to God, God will draw near to us. And so what I want us to do
today is I want us to look at for benefits or for rewards of
seeking God through prayer and fasting. Now this is not an
all-inclusive list. This is not everything that happens when we
fast. But what I want us to do this morning is just get some of
the highlights from God's word. Uh, so if you're taking notes,
number one, fasting always points us to our purpose. Fasting
always points us to our purpose. If we look in acts chapter 15,
starting in verse two, it says one day as these men were
worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy spirit said appoint
Barnabas and Saul for the special work which I have called them.
You see, when we pray and fast, God gives us direction. When we
pray and fast, God points us to purpose. And we see it all
throughout the scripture, Moses, he fasted before he received the
law from God Paul fasted, before he went on his great missionary
journey and planted churches all across the middle East and
Europe, Jesus fasted before he started his public ministry, prayer
and fasting, pointless to purpose. And so maybe you're watching
this year and you're going into 2021. And you don't know what your
purpose is. I would encourage spend time and prayer and fasting
ask God, God, what are you calling me to do God? Why am I here?
Listen, the times God gives us a lifetime purpose. Sometimes he
tells us what he wants to do for the next 15, 30, 45 years.
Sometimes God tells us what he wants us to do in the next 15
And so I'm asking you don't get so caught up and what you want God
to tell you for 30 years from now that we don't forget that God
has something for us, 30 minutes from now two, but prayer and
fasting points to purpose. The second thing if you're taking notes
is that prayer and fasting opens doors in our life. It opens doors
in our life. Know when you sin, since that God wants to open a new
door, that God wants you to walk into a new opportunity. Listen,
don't try to open the door yourself. Many times. God wants to open
the doors in your life that he can get the glory instead of you
getting the glory. Amen. A lot of us, we like to get the glory.
When we open our own doors, we like to post about it on Facebook.
We like to tell everybody, look at what we did, but when God opens
the doors in our life, he gets the glory.
And ultimately that's what we, we want to do with our lives. We
want God to get the glory with our lives. There's a story about a
man, a great leader in scripture named Nehemiah. Listen, if you
want to study leadership and this year study the life and ministry
of Nehemiah. Nehemiah hears that there is a problem. The walls of
Jerusalem are broken down, right? And then was a huge problem.
Especially during this time, time period, because a city without
walls was unprotected and it was open to attack. Nehemiah sees a
door open as God wants to do something, but Nehemiah doesn't just
jump into it. He doesn't just run back to Jerusalem. He doesn't
just tell people we need to go do something. No. He starts with
prayer and fasting and listen to what the Bible says in Nehemiah
chapter one, verse four. When I heard this, I sat down and wept.
In fact, for days I'm mourned, fasted and prayed to the God of
heaven. The first thing Nehemiah did was pray in fast. I see this
opportunity, but God, I'm going to wait on you. God. I want to
hear from you, God. I want to make sure I know what you're calling
me to do in this situation. The Bible actually says that Nehemiah
fasted and prayed for four months before he knew what God had
called him to do, and then went to the King to get permission, to
go back to Jerusalem. And here's what happened because Nehemiah
did this the right way because nearby had, did not try to get
ahead of God because he didn't try to open this own door. The King
gave Nehemiah the money, the people and the authority to do what
God had called him to do. Number three, if you're taking notes,
fasting brings breakthrough.
It brings breakthrough. I love this stories. You've heard me tell
it before, but it's a very powerful, uh, account of what happened
when we pray and fast. The Bible says in Matthew seven, that
Jesus, his disciples, they were going around and they were doing
ministry empowered by Jesus. They were praying for people. They
were seeing people healed from diseases. God had given them the
ability to cast out demons that were puzzles, blessing people. And
all of the sudden they were praying for a demon possessed boy and
they prayed over him and he did not get healed. Nothing happens.
So I imagine they're going around, they're doing this ministry.
They're seeing God do some incredible miraculous things. And they
pray for this demon possessed boy and nothing happens. And so the
boy's father is frustrated. He's ticked off and really more than
anything else, he's desperate.
And so he says, okay guys, I'm just taking my son to Jesus. Uh,
thanks a lot. But, but I'm going to the man I'm going to Jesus.
And so he takes the boy did Jesus. Uh, the, the disciples probably
had all kinds of excuses or right as why the boy didn't get
healed. A lot of times when we don't see God do what we want them
to do. We try to make justifications and excuses for God, but God
doesn't need our justifications. God doesn't need us to make
excuses for him. And so they get to Jesus. And this is Jesus's
response and set Matthew 17, 17, Jesus said you faithless and
corrupt people. Now Jesus is talking to his followers, the people
that are going around healing in his name, casting out demons in
his name. And he calls them faithless and corrupt. That is tough.
But, but what he's saying is, is by faithless, he said, you didn't
trust in me by corrupt. He's saying you tried to do things in your
own flesh, in your own power. And I think for all of us today that
are watching there have been times in our life. There have been
circumstances where we've, we've done things on our own, right? If
you want there to be change in your life, we can't do things on
our own. We have to do things empowered by the spirit. Jesus,
didn't just correct them. He also gave them the answer and we see
it in Mark nine 29 in the King James version. He said, unto them,
this con, this kind of demon can come forth by nothing, but by
prayer and fasting this situation with this demon possessed boy
looked like all the other demon possessions that they had healed,
but it wasn't.
And maybe, maybe the thing is that God doesn't it. It's not that
God doesn't want to work, but God just wanted to be close to them.
They, God wanted to be their pro Wardee and they needed to learn
that in order to truly operate and truly function, the way that
God had called them to, they had to function out of his presence
in their life. And the only way to get to his presence in this
situation was by prayer and fasting, making God the true pro
already. And so maybe you're watching, you're listening and
there's an area of your life where you need breakthrough. It seems
impossible. It seems like you've just been running up against a
wall, Tom and Tom, again, maybe prayer and fasting is the way that
you're going to get the breakthrough that you need in 2021. And
number four, if you're taking notes and we see that fasting
defeats the enemy, fasting defeats the enemy, Daniel tin verses
two through three.
This is Daniel speaking. When this vision came to me, I, Daniel
had been in mourning for three whole weeks. All that time. I had
eaten no rich food, no meat or wine cross my lips. And I used no
fragrant lotions until those three weeks had passed. So, so here's
Daniel talking about a situation. He had a vision, this vision
disturbed him. And so for three weeks, he prayed and fasted. Uh,
listen to what happens in verse 12. Uh, a angel comes to Daniel
and says, don't be afraid to Daniel. Since the first day, you
began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before God,
your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to
your prayer, but for 21 days, for three weeks, the spirit Prince
of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the
arch angels came to help me and I left him there with the spirit
Prince of the kingdom of Persia.
Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the
future for this vision concerns a time yet to come. You see Daniel
had this disturbing revelation, this vision about Israel's future.
And it bothered him so much for three weeks. He could do nothing
but pray and fast, and he didn't know why God wasn't answering.
Why was there silence from God? And finally this angel shows up
and says, listen, Daniel, I've been trying to get here for three
weeks, but a demon, the spirit Prince of Persia, opposed to me
came after me. And I've been trying to fight him off for three
weeks, but God sent another angel to fight him so that I could
come to you. We have to understand that even though we can't see
it, Church there is a spiritual battle going on between the forces
of God and the forces of our enemy, Satan.
It is continually being fought in the spirit world. Yes. And then
the Bible talks about armor. The Bible talks about it happens that
we need. And Paul even talks about praying, always or praying
without ceasing. We have to understand that our prayer and our
fasting has a significant impact on the outcome of spiritual
battles. Our prayer and fasting can help defeat the enemy. Some of
you, you are under spiritual attack in your life. You've been
under spiritual tech maybe for weeks or months, even for years, I
would encourage you. Maybe you need to fight with prayer and
fasting. Maybe there's someone in your life that's dealing with
generational sin. Maybe there's someone you're alive in and the
enemy is attacking them. I would encourage you try prayer and
fasting. Listen, anytime that we go overseas, anytime we go on
mission trips. And anytime that we are trying to do something
significant for God's glory, we pray and fast because we want to
see breakthrough.
And we want to see the enemy defeated. Our faith is not a diff a
defensive position. We're at war as Christians. We need to be on
the authentic, bringing the kingdom of God into this world. And
one of the ways we do this is by prayer and fasting is I was
studying this week. I found this poem. I just loved it. It, it, I
don't know who wrote it, it's anonymous, but it says something
happens when we pray powers of evil, lose their sway. We gain
strength and fear gives way. Therefore, let us pray. Prayer and
fasting is powerful. So we're starting our 21 days of prayer and
fasting in 2021 tomorrow as a church family. And what I want us to
do is I want us to get practical for just a few minutes. We're
going to have resources available for you on our social media.
If you come in person, we'll have them at our campuses. We'll also
be emailing them out to our church family. But we want to give you
some resources. We want to be praying in unity over the next 21
days, but, but let's walk. Get practical of how we do this 21 days
of prayer and fasting. First, you need to choose your fast. You
need this, how you're going to fast. Now, you don't have to tell
me or anybody at church, what that is, the, the fasting police.
Isn't going to show, show up at your house and ask you questions.
This is between you and God, right? And what you need to do is you
need to choose a fast, that presents a level of challenge, but
it's also important, you know, your own body. And I want you to
know your options. And what I want you to do is I want you to do
seek God in prayer and follow what the Holy spirit kills you to
And you can look through what we'll talk about these, but you can
also look through the resources that are available. So here's some
different options of fast. You can do a complete fast, and this
calls for drinking only liquids, typically water and light juices
as an option. And you just, you just drink water in juice for
whatever time period, whether it's for a few days, whether it's
for a week, whether it's for the whole 21 days, but that's a
complete fast. Maybe you choose a selective fast, and this
involves removing certain elements from a diet. Um, one example of
a selective fast is a Daniel fast, where you remove meat and
sweets and bread, and you consume fruits and vegetables for food
and water and fruit juices for fluids. Uh, there's also the
partial fast. And this is involves from abstaining, from eating
types of foods in the morning or in the afternoon.
Maybe it correlates with specific times of the day, such as you
don't eat from 6:00 AM to 3:00 PM or from sunup to sundown. And
you could also choose to do a media or a soul fast, uh, this
fastest common for people who don't have a lot of experience
fasting from food, or maybe you have a health issue and you can't
go without food, or maybe there's an area of your life. That's out
of balance. Like you're spending way too much time on social
media. And you know that it's affecting you. Um, maybe you need to
cut that out. Maybe you cut out social media or watching TV or
something like that is getting in the way of your relationship
with God, but you can choose one of those fast, fast. And always,
if you have questions, reach out to our pastoral team, we love
you. And we want to help you as you walk through this.
I want to say again, if you have health issues, please talk to
your doctor before going without food for an extended period of
time. So after you choose your fast, I would also encourage you to
spend time with God, um, arranging a special time each day, where
you're spending time in God's word, where you're spending time in
prayer, where you're seeking. God's where you're worshiping,
singing his praises, memorizing scripture. Listen, if we don't
spend time with God, then we're just on a bad diet, right? And
we're just going without food. That's why prayer and fasting are
always seen together in God's word. Spend time with God. I also
think it's important to, to read this from the scripture, Matthew
six, 16 through 18. It says, when you fast, don't make it obvious
as the hypocrites do for, they try to look miserable in the shelf.
So people will admire them for their fasting. Go down to verse 18.
No one will notice that you're fasting except for your father who
knows what you do in private and your father who sees everything
will reward you. My hope. And my prayer is that all of us will
fast in some way, but you don't have to let everybody know that
you're fasting. This is about spending time with God. This isn't
about trying to show out for other people. Also wants you to be
aware of opposition. Be aware that your enemy Satan, he's going to
try to pull you away from prayer. He's going to try to pull you
away from spending time in the word. You may immediately feel the
enemy. Try to discourage you. Hey, I would incur go immediately to
God in prayer, ask God to give you the strength, ask God to give
you resolve the enemy.
He's going to put a target on you because he knows that fasting is
powerful. He knows that God has something special for you. The
enemy Satan doesn't want you to grow in your faith and he'll do
anything from making you hungry and grumpy to bringing up trouble
in your family or at work to stop. You make prayer, a protective
shield against those attacks. And then I would encourage you to
expect results. Even if you don't see anything immediately, I told
you before, God always meets us at our level of expectation in a
renewed closeness with God, a greater sensitivity to spiritual
things are usually the results of a fast, but I don't want you to
be discouraged. If you don't have a mountaintop experience. Uh,
many people who have completed extended fast, they talk about a
feeling of near-miss to God that they've never had before. And
sometimes people will come out of a fast and say, well, gosh, I
didn't feel that just because you did
Feel God doesn't mean that he wasn't there. Our faith is always
greater than our feelings. Again, I'm excited about 21 days in
2021. I believe that God wants to do something powerful. I believe
that God to heal some hurts in our life that we experienced in
2020. But I believe that in 2021, that we can be effective for
God, that he still has a huge vision for us as a church that he
has called us. And he has empowered us to accomplish. And I
believe that so much is going to start with digging in for the
next three weeks in prayer and fasting and devotion and spending
time with Jesus. Maybe you're watching, you're listening. And
that's not even the reason that you were watching today. Maybe
you're watching because of what I'm about to say. Next. I want you
to understand that God loves you.
God loves you more than you could ever. Imagine. God loves you so
much that he sent his son Jesus Christ to live a perfect life, to
become a perfect sacrifice for you to die on a cross and to
ultimately resurrect, to bring himself back from the dead so that
you and I could be forgiven and set free. And if you will place
your faith in Jesus Christ, the Bible says you're not just going
to have a new year. You're going to have a brand new life. You're
going to have a brand new purpose, and you're going to have a
brand new board that will lead you and guide you each and every
day of your life. But listen, it's a decision that only you can
make your parents can't make it for you, a priest or a pastor.
Can't make it for you. You have to choose to follow Jesus.
And I want to give you that opportunity today. If you say Jason,
that's me. I need to follow Jesus with my life. I invite you to
pray this prayer with me. God, I've been going my own direction
with my life. My life has lacked purpose. I just feel lost. I feel
like there's something missing and God, I believe what's missing
is Jesus. I believe that you sent your son Jesus to live a perfect
lie. I believe that Jesus died on a cross for me because of his
great love. And I believe that Jesus Rose again from the grave and
he's still alive today calling me to himself. Jesus, I want to
follow you for the rest of my life. Jesus, you are my Lord and I
love you and Jesus, it's in your name. I pray. Amen. If that was
you, please don't change the channel.
Don't turn this video off without letting me know, because I want
to reach out to you this week. I want to pray for you by name and
I want to send you some resources to help you grow in your faith
and become more like Jesus. You can give your name, your email
address in the digital connect card in the post above, or it can
be found on our website. Listen, I love you. I am for you. This
church family is for you and Jesus is for you. And I believe that
if we put Jesus first in 2021, this really can be our best year.

Welcome back to a short series on Prayer and Fasting! This week we break down what it looks like to pray & fast, looking at stories of prayer and fasting in the bible!