Fasting for Life: Medical Proof Fasting Reduces Risk of Heart Disease, Cancer, and Diabetes - Francis E. Umesiri (2016)
Part 2. Fasting for the Whole Person
Chapter 16. PRAYING THE SCRIPTURES
God is our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.
—PSALM 46:1, AMP
The abstinence is not to be an end in itself but rather for the purpose of being separated to the Lord and to concentrate on godliness. This kind of fasting reduces the influence of our own self-will and invites the Holy Spirit to do a more intense work in us.
—BIBLE PROFESSOR BILL THRASHER1
THERE IS SOMETHING TRULY RESTORATIVE AND formative in engaging the Holy Scriptures during prayer and fasting. God’s salvation is embedded in these words of life. They earned that label for a reason: God’s life saturates them. As we meditate on His words, God’s life becomes light, shining brightly across the darkness of this world and life’s temptations, trials, and pains. When we search the Scriptures, we should engage them with all our hearts, because within them is the essence of life. God’s Word contains His power to save, restore, bless, encourage, correct, and refresh. Fasting becomes more profitable when we devote time to ingesting His holy words. We sing His words, read them, and pray them. The words of Scripture even have a way of expressing clearly what our spirits are feeling.
For example, take the psalms. I am continually amazed at the depth of humanity revealed in their words, whether struggles, sins, triumphs, enemy problems, jealousy issues, or the betrayal of close friends. I am even more amazed at the ability of the psalmist to express my soul’s deepest prayers. Sometimes as I meditate on them, my soul cries, “Yes!” I am drawn to a place where I receive the right words to pray out the longing and groaning of my innermost being. It seems as if there is always a scripture or psalm that suits every moment, whether times of intense joy or desperate pain.
Allow me to share how I engage the psalms in prayer. (Of course, everyone tends to approach Scripture differently, so there is no prescription about how you ought to allow scriptures to instruct and guide you.) I start by meditating quietly on Scripture and allowing it to speak to me, search my heart, and heal any evil way in me. Then I pray with these scriptures. I often will use a psalm as a tool to allow the Holy Spirit to pray through me and for me. You may ask, “What does praying the Scriptures look like?” I don’t know what that looks like for others, but for me it involves taking up each verse, praying the words out loud, rephrasing the words to suit the cry or pain in my heart, and turning those words of Scripture to words of prayer toward God.
Praying Psalm 46
Here is what praying the Scriptures might look like if I were praying with Psalm 46, using the New International Version. Since this is meant as a personal prayer, I use a lot of expressions of “me,” “I,” and “mine.” Still, I hope you will take my words to mean you personally. Pray and say those words back to God, because, in the words of the late Carl Rogers, noted psychologist, “What is most personal is most universal.”2
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (v. 1).
God, thank You for being my refuge and strength. You have been a refuge, a shelter, and a place of protection for believers in ages past. You are my present refuge. I run to You, O Lord, for protection from the troubles I am in right now. My mind may be in turmoil about this circumstance, but I come into Your shelter. Bring me peace from the storm. Lord, You are a storm shelter for me and my family from the adverse winds of life. Lord, You are also my strength, my anchor, and my stay. I receive Your strength for today. God, You are a very present help for me in time of trouble. I come to You, knowing that You are present, strong, and willing to help me. You are a present help. I know I needed Your help yesterday, but You are still my present help today in any trouble. You are the help I need. So, I have come to You, dear Lord. Here I am before my refuge and strength. The God of heaven is myrefuge. The God of heaven is my strength. The God of angel armies is an ever-present help for me. I rejoice in You, rock of my salvation.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging (vv. 2–3).
O God, because You are my refuge and strength and an ever-present help in trouble, I choose not to fear. In the name of Jesus Christ, I reject fear and agitating passions. I receive freedom from worry and anxiety. I know that physically the waters of life seem to be roaring against me right now, but I choose to be calm in Your presence. I receive Your peace, because You will give them perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You. I stay my mind on You, my refuge and strength. The mountain of obstacles seems to be mounting, but in the name of Jesus, I choose to rejoice in God, my Maker. You are my stay and anchor. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so Your strength and shelter surround me. I am hid in Christ and Christ in God. My life is hid in You, O God, my refuge and strength. I uproot fear from my mind. I cast down imaginations that sow seeds of fear and anxiety in my mind. I trust in You to shelter my mind, even in this turmoil.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells (v. 4).
God, You have left us a river, the Holy Spirit, whose streams make glad the city of God, the church of the living God. Your Holy Spirit lives and moves in the congregation of believers, and He also lives and moves in my heart. Oh, may Your streams make glad my heart. Make glad my home. Make glad my children. I present myself and mine as a holy place for Your dwelling. Did Jesus not say that for those who believe, out of their innermost being will flow rivers of living waters? According to Your Word, by this He meant the Holy Spirit whom those who believe will receive. Thank You, Lord, that You have given me the Holy Spirit. I pray now that His rivers of living, refreshing water will flow out of my innermost belly. May the joy and renewal that come from the Holy Spirit emanate from my innermost being right now.
God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day (v. 5).
Hallelujah! God is within me. I will not fall. I will not fail. God will help me, and early. A new day is coming—the dawn of His help. I will stay fixed in His will; He will help me right on time. I am going to keep following the right path, because He will help me at the break of dawn. Weeping may last for a night, but His joy comes in the morning. Morning will come. This night season will be over eventually. His strength will keep me through the night. God, who is within me, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, will help me.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress (vv. 6–7).
Yes, I know that the economy is bad. I know that those big corporations are laying off employees. I know that there are economic, political, and biological forces at play that cannot just be ignored or wished away. But the Lord Almighty is with me. The God of Jacob, the God who helped even cheating, conniving Jacob, is with me. He has chosen to be my fortress, my refuge. It is not by works, lest anyone should boast. It is by grace that we are saved. His grace alone is my redemption. His shelter is strong enough to withstand every wind of economic, political, or biological change. The God of Jacob is my fortress!
Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire (vv. 8–9).
Oh, enemy of my soul, come and see what the Lord does. You thought you had thrown a death-dealing curveball at me, but God makes wars to cease. God breaks the bows and shatters the spear of war. God has taken what you meant for evil and has turned it around for my good. God is turning my mourning into joy. He is giving me the oil of joy for any heaviness. God is taking my mistakes and using them for His glory. God is turning those kids hooked on drugs around and using them for His glory. Oh, come and see what God can do with a life given over to Him. I give You my life, God. Take it up and make the wars cease. Break the bows, spears, and weapons of war fashioned against me. Bring me to a place of refreshing grace. Renew my life again.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (v. 10).
God has said to me: “Be still and know that I am God.” Now, my soul says yes to God. Dear Lord, I choose to be still, to stop fretting, and to yield all to You. I know You are going to show Yourself as God, the Almighty One. You will be exalted in my life and circumstances. Your glory will be revealed in my world. Be exalted in my decisions, my daily walk, and my actions. Teach me to be still. Teach me to let You fight battles in my life. Help me to stop struggling and constantly fighting. I choose to let You take control, to defend me and advocate for me. I will be still and know that You are God.
The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress (v. 11).
That is my hope and confidence: that the One who is sovereign and reigns supreme is for me. You are on my side. The God who patiently worked in Jacob until he became the Israel of God is with me. He is on my side. You are not giving up on me. You are still working in me. You have a plan to make me the person you want me to become. My heart rejoices in the fact that the God of Jacob is my fortress through life. I breathe easy. I rest secure in Your love. Thank You for being my refuge and strength. Amen.