Many years ago, I joined with thousands of other Southern Baptist pastors and laymen, kneeling on the floor of the Georgia Dome. Unprecedented in the years I have gone to the convention, Ronnie Floyd, Pastor of FBC Springdale, Arkansas, offered an invitation, and literally thousands responded. On that day, I committed myself to fast and pray for personal revival, for revival in my family, for revival in my church, and revival in this nation. And I wish I could tell you that the weeks that followed were the most wonderful time in my life. I wish I could tell you that it was easy. But it wasn’t. You see, I’m addicted to food. Gotta have it. And every time I would try to fast and pray, opportunities to eat arose. When I would go without food for a day, the headaches came. Pastoral responsibilities, family responsibilities beckoned. But I am convinced that all of this was the carnal, fleshly, unspiritual man inside being empowered by Satan to defeat me in my commitment to my Lord.
And I failed. First, I thought of every reason why I couldn’t and why I shouldn’t fast. My health. My family. Baptist’s don’t fast. I even thought it might become a source of pride. But I quickly learned that in truth, true fasting doesn’t bring pride–it destroys it. Suddenly, in the midst of fasting and prayer you suddenly become aware of how weak and insignificant you really are. Suddenly you realize that all of your ability, all of your strength, all of your organization and planning is nothing without the power of God in it.
You say, “Amen!” And most of us acknowledge freely that without God’s strength we can do nothing, but my friends, it’s one thing to say it; it’s another thing to know it, believe it, and live by it.
I said earlier that I failed, but I pray that all of us could have the kind of failure that I experienced. Understand, I am not boasting. I have nothing to boast about. I failed to fast for the length of time that I committed to. But for the first time in my life, I fasted and I prayed. That was 18 years ago. And my friends, I want to tell you what a wonderful time spent with God. Looking to Him constantly and fellowshipping with Him for hours at a time, growing in His presence. That experience changed my life, and understand, it was not what I did but what God did in me and for me. In one sense I failed, but in another sense I realized for the first time what Jesus meant in our passage of Scripture. “This kind does not go out but by prayer and fasting.” Why? Because as Dr. Floyd describes it, prayer and fasting is the gateway to God’s supernatural power flowing into us and through us.
Look at a story in Matthew 17:14 – 21. By this time in the gospels, the disciples had heard Jesus’ teaching, they had seen His miracles, and according to Mark 6 and Luke 9, they had already gone out on their own preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. You can understand their confusion. A father had brought his demon-possessed son to the disciples for healing. Perhaps he had heard of the miracles they had performed. Perhaps it was simply because of Jesus’ reputation. He assumed the disciples could do the same. Whatever the reason, this father believed the disciples could heal his son. The disciples believed they could heal his son, but everything they tried failed.
The Word of God says that Jesus spoke, rebuking the devil and the child was cured. And look at what the disciples did. They came to Jesus and said, “Why couldn’t we do that?” And Jesus said, “The number one reason is lack of faith.” And it’s incredible because faith the size of a mustard seed is enough to move mountains. Look at what Jesus says in v. 10: “Nothing shall be impossible for you.” But notice the next thing Jesus says. “This kind does not go out but by prayer and fasting.” Why? Because prayer and fasting is God’s gateway to supernatural power.