Annual Physical. It is a term that is synonymous with the procedure of blood work. With the orders that a doctor gives the lab for his patient's blood work, he also gives the patient instructions to follow in preparation for the test:
DO NOT EAT ANY SOLID FOOD AFTER MIDNIGHT THE NIGHT BEFORE YOUR PROCEDURE.
AND DRINK ONLY CLEAR LIQUIDS DURING THAT TIME.
What is so important that we cannot eat or drink after midnight? The goal is to have the patient's blood stream pure of anything that could possibly effect the levels of impurities such as sugar, etc. Food or sugary drinks could alter these levels and cause the doctor to start treating the patient for an issue that doesn't actually exist. It just 'appeared' to be a true statement but was based on a temporary condition from outside particles that enter the blood stream. To cancel the possibility of this false report, a medical fast is ordered.
Our spiritual lives are in need of the same focus. Throughout scripture, we are taught about the importance of fasting. We see when others fasted for deliverance from the enemy or when coming before God to repent as a nation. Or seeking healing for a loved one. And we are told to make fasting part of our own routine. Twice in Matthew 16 we read, "and when you fast....". It is not a 'if you fast'. It clearly states 'when' because our Father knew the importance of fasting.
Just as fasting after midnight helps to have the blood stream clear, fasting coupled with prayer helps to clear the line of communication between Abba and us. It prepares us to go before the throne of God in prayer. When fasting, we are more accurate with hearing His voice as He speaks. We are cleared of distractions and able to seek His face with more fervency.
When we need guidance and instruction, we should pray and fast -
Ex 34:28 "So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments."
Before appointing others into a ministry, we should pray and fast -
Acts 13:2 "While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' "
When interceding for those away from God, we should pray and fast -
Is 58: 6 “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?"
Facing a tough battle that seems impossible? Get prepared for battler by prayer and fasting -
Mark 9:29 "And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
With a time of repenting and wanting more of His presence, we should pray and fast -
Ezra 8:21 "Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods."
If we follow the example Jesus set before us, fasting would be a lifestyle choice same as eating well or exercising is in our lifestyle. Just as we heed the instructions of our earthly physician, we need to take to heart the instructions of our heavenly Physician and make it a practice in our lives to fast and pray. As our spiritual lives are clear of debris from life, we become more prepared to face challenges in His strength.
Let's not wait for a leader to call a time of corporate fasting. Let's choose to make it part of our lives, even weekly, for the sake of the kingdom. It will prepare our hearts and bring fresh and clear perspective in our lives.