Prepare your church for a 2012 breakthrough with a corporate fast in January
For several years now, many in my church, Free Chapel, have joined me in a 21-day fast to seek and honor God in January for the new year. By starting each year with a corporate fast, we have found that God meets with us in very unique and special ways. His presence grows greater and greater with each day of the fast. Without fail, He always shows up.
Corporately fasting in January is much the same precept as praying in the morning to establish the will of God for the entire day. I believe that, if we will pray and seek God and give Him our best at the first of the year, He will bless our entire year. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).
Short Season, Lasting Effect
Fasting is a short season that produces a lasting effect. Out of 365 days in a year, 21 days is not that long to take a break from your routine and experience a fresh encounter with God. We fast corporately as a church at the beginning of every year because that short season sets the course for the rest of the year.
By March or April, I no longer remember the difficulty of that long 21-day fast in January. But God does not forget. His promise in Heb. 11:6 is true: “Without faith it isimpossible to please Him, for He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
We need the cutting edge back. We need the cutting edge back in our prayer life. Leaders, pastors and teachers, we need the cutting edge back in our preaching and ministry. We need the cutting edge back in our churches. We need the cutting edge back in our finances. People frequently ask me how Free Chapel continues to grow and how our campuses are debt free.
I can only point to the faithfulness of the Lord. We honor Him with the first fruits. For the last 12 years, we have set out to seek Him diligently at the beginning of each year in a corporate fast and throughout the year with individual fasts as people feel led to do so. He is a rewarder.
Over the years, we have seen miraculous testimonies of God’s healing power, mended marriages and deliverance from devastating addictions of all kinds in individual lives. Our people at Free Chapel have seen financial breakthroughs like never before.
Meeting Others’ Needs
God’s blessings always overflow the cup. We must never stay focused on our own needs so much that we neglect the needs of others. When you make fasting part of your lifestyle, you begin to hear His heart to release the captives and meet the needs beyond your own borders in ever increasing measure.
We have been able to recently sow millions of dollars into Mission: Bread of Life and Life Speakers, two ministries we have launched to help feed the hungry, provide medical aid and build homes for those left devastated by natural disasters, and assist in building rehabilitation centers for those rescued from human trafficking.
The world needs a people of God who walk in the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit that pulls down strongholds and sets the captives free. But there are no “people of God” without there first being a willing “person of God.”
If you are tired of dull church, if you are tired of a cold, dry, barren relationship with Jesus, it is time to regain the edge. It is time to declare a spiritual fast. The Bible declares that “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way” (Ps. 37:23). I believe God is going to establish who He is in your life again, afresh and anew. The victory that Jesus won against the devil when He fasted 40 days established a pattern for you and me to follow.
Perhaps you have fasted and have seen God bless you and do mighty things in your life. Remember, fasting gets you in a position to receive personal blessing and guidance for your life, and also for God to use you to reach others with His power. It is time to regain the edge, so we can do far more by the Spirit of God than we could ever accomplish with our own strength.
Fasting is not a requirement. Fasting is a choice. Whenever a believer chooses to begin a spiritual fast for one day or for several days, he or she makes a choice to break out of the routine in order to draw closer to God.
I chose to develop a lifestyle of prayer and fasting more than 25 years ago, and I do not know of anything that has been more powerful in my Christian life. It is true in my personal experience and it is true for our church, as evidenced by the multitude of powerful testimonies that stem from our annual corporate fast at Free Chapel.
Gateway to God’s Power
I am more convinced than ever that fasting is a gateway through which God releases His supernatural power into our lives. The choice is ours: we can either open that gateway or ignore it and keep on going in our routines.
For 12 years, our church has committed to an annual 21-day fast in January. With each passing year, I become more certain that this annual fast, set aside to honor God with the “first” of our year, is truly part of His design and calling. I have witnessed profound miracles in this church and through this ministry as we have determined to seek God in fasting and prayer, things that could not have come about in our own strength or effort.
I was amazed to discover that nearly a million people visited our fasting website, jentezenfranklin.org/fasting, during a two-day period on our most recent annual fast. People all over America and the far reaches of the world are beginning to see that fasting is not just for a select few—but that God is a rewarder of all who diligently seek Him.
Fasting is a principle that God intended for everyone to be able to enjoy. It’s not a punishment; it’s a privilege. By making fasting a way of life, you can get closer to God and grow in your spiritual walk like never before. Fasting is one of the most powerful weapons God has given us for our daily lives. Through fasting, you can experience a release from the bondage of sin, restoration in your relationships,financial blessings, spiritual renewal, supernatural healing and so much more.
Another reward of fasting has to do with your future. God has given you a vision, a divine dream for your life. When you fast, you open up the blessings and opportunities He has provided for you to pursue that dream. As you fast, pray for God’s direction and guidance. Focus your faith on your dream and God will show you how you can turn your vision into a reality. Begin pursuing your divine dream today and make the rewards of fasting part of your lifestyle.
Through the life-changing principle of fasting, I encourage you and your church to join us for a corporate fast to start 2012. Seek the Lord in prayer and let your decisions about your fast come from Him. Ask the Lord to show you areas to target during your time of fasting and prayer. Start with a clear goal and make a commitment to stick to your fast. Be ready to grow in your walk like never before as you seek the Lord through the biblical principles of prayer and fasting.
I want to encourage you to target your prayers during the fast. Two specific areas we will be focusing on together are leadership and finances. The Bible instructs us to continually pray for our leaders. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
When you look at this scripture closely, you will find there is a great benefit promised to us if we will seek God’s will on behalf of our leaders. Our prayers can open the door for us to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” When we lift up our leaders, here in the United States and around the world, we can expect God’s peace in our lives and in our nation.
Another great promise, from the book of Isaiah, proclaims that the chosen fast will “undo the heavy burdens and let the oppressed go free.” We are living in tough economic times and I know that so many people are under a financial burden.
As we come together to fast and pray, I am believing that your burdens will be lifted and that financial blessings will be released into your life.
Jentezen Franklin is a New York Times best-selling author and the senior pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville, Ga., and Irvine, Calif., a nondenominational church with 9,000 members. He has authored several books, including his latest, The Fasting Edge. For the past 12 years, his congregation has participated in a corporate fast every January, in which they report seeing signs and wonders.
Your Corporate Fast Connection
Your church and churches worldwide can join Jentezen Franklin and his Free Chapel congregations in Gainesville, Ga., and Irvine, Calif., for their annual 21-day corporate fast in January. For more information, visit freechapel.org or jentezenfranklin.org/fasting. To purchase Franklin’s The Fasting Edge, go to christianbook.com.