by John Meador
Anyone who reads an article entitled, "Transformational Preaching" has at least one thing in common with Jesus-he wants his teaching to have impact in a real way with people's lives.
So I guess you're about that. This, then, will interest you.
Fasting. You know, not eating. Now, I'm not talking about starving yourself, but I am talking about the practice of abstaining from food for a time of greater prayer, seeking, and sensitivity to the Lord because you want your preaching and your ministry to have a greater touch from God. Transformational preachers are about that.
We're talking about taking ministry to another level-which basically means taking you to another level spiritually. While fasting may have nothing to do with the "mechanics" of preaching, it has everything to do with the "man" who preaches. I've found that one simply cannot fast and pray and then not have a greater burden and passion for the people God has given him to shepherd.
You see, when preachers want to become more effective, they often look for new tools, new ways of illustration, new titles and series, a new book, but we could be in danger of missing one key issue. We may need a new level of prayer and passion in our own lives.
This is not an article on how to fast, but one in which I encourage you to find out about it and explore it. Moses fasted 40 days, as did Jesus as He began His earthly ministry. Daniel fasted 21 days while spiritual battle was taking place in the heavenly places-just before God gave him great revelation. Just do a word search on the word "fast" and you'll have a great trip down the path of fasting.
Jesus said something about fasting to His disciples when He came off the Mount of Transfiguration. The disciples who remained below had attempted to cast demons out of a young boy and had failed. Jesus promptly cast the demon out and "the boy was cured at once" (Matt. 17:18). Further, Jesus answered the question put to Him by the disciples, "Why couldn't we do that?"
He said, "This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting" (v. 21). Now I know this is not the context of preaching, but it is the context of ministry, and unless you consider preaching to be just an "art form" you can make the ministry connection. The disciples had apparently "hit the wall" when it came to their own spiritual power and the encounter with the demoniac. I've got to tell you that I believe the same thing happens to me in ministry. I hit the wall. I can't seem to see progress or victory in the lives of those I preach to. During those times, I am often led to fast.
My first fast took place many years ago, and I was burdened for our congregation. We were approaching a Bible conference time when I knew we'd be exposed to some good, strong Bible teaching, and I was asking God to break through in the lives of our congregation. I was reading Isaiah 58, where the Lord makes a distinction between the hypocritical fasting of certain members of the Israelites, and a true fast in which God is transforming the life of the one fasting as well as others. I was mesmerized by the passage, and began to pray for God to do exactly what the passage said a true fast would do.
I was stunned at how it all unfolded. I prayed during times in which I would have otherwise eaten, and fasted for just ten days. During those ten days, however, ministry unfolded before my eyes in an amazing way. I saw God do the incredible. I saw the ministry of the Word in that conference take on a new depth of power in our church-and in my life. Above it all, there was renewed passion and zeal for prayer, something I desperately needed.
I've been led to two 40-day fasts since that time (and a host of other, shorter fasts) and each time has been a period of great personal revival. I've gotten answers to prayer that did not come any other way. I've seen God speak through me when I had no strength to do it myself. I've seen him give me new zeal and insights. It has led me to a greater dependency, not on methods, but upon Him.
We, as preachers, are in an era where we're depending on technology more, upon environments, worship, and amazing illustrative methods. Let's not forget to depend more on the Lord and His power.
Let's learn to fast and pray, and see God do what ONLY God can do.
John Meador is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Euless, Texas.