I had always equated fasting with power. My reasons for thinking this way came directly from my limited understanding of the Scripture. In Luke 4:1-13 Jesus has been led by the Spirit into the Wilderness. For forty days He was tempted by the devil (verse 2). Obviously, we do not know the full extent of these temptations. The temptations that we do know about occurred on the 40th day (verse 2). This tells us two important things: first, our Lord was a Man of amazing personal fortitude; second, our enemy is a stinking coward who attacks when we are at our weakest.
Jesus withstood these temptations through an extraordinary combination of astonishing courage and deft application of the Scripture. To my uninitiated mind, this translated that fasting was power. I was wrong.
No food for forty days. Not even fruit juice or vegetable juice or broth. Just water. I began my first juice fast at 215 lbs. and ended at 185 lbs. I began the second juice fast at 202 lbs. and ended up below 175 lbs. Jesus was so weakened that Matthew and Mark both make special note that angels came to minister to Him when the fast was complete (Matthew 4:11; Mark 1:12). He wasn’t experiencing supernatural power when He fought with the enemy. He was on the verge of complete physical collapse.
My first 40 day fast ended on a Saturday. I was elated mentally but physically I was drained, stretched, and incredibly tired. I was thoroughly broken and humbled in a way I had never experienced before. I was scheduled to preach the following day. Even though the fast was technically over, I had determined that I was going to fast through the morning services in order to have access to greater spiritual power and anointing. But Holy Spirit had different plans. Very gently, He spoke to my heart and told me that I was to break the fast in the morning, before the services. I was really in no position to argue, but I had to ask why. He took me to Luke 4:14 and showed me something that I had simply never put together before.
“Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit….”
I always knew that Jesus had returned from His 40 day fast in the power of the Spirit, but I had never made the connection that that awesome power was not released, was not realized, and was not activated until after the fast was broken!
Here’s what I experienced. I went to the hotel restaurant that Sunday morning with a tremendous sense of expectation. I had read and heard about the proper way to end a 40 day fast, so I also approached this moment with a degree of caution. However, I simply could not resist having a cup of coffee. It was the best cup of coffee a man ever had, and I could already feel something happening in my body and spirit. I waited a few moments. I felt really good, and went up to the buffet to check things out. I got a small bowl of oatmeal, sprinkled on a few raisins (I thought that was kind of risky) and returned to my table. Every bite seemed to awaken something new and powerful; it was life surging through my very fiber and every part of me was reviving. I finished the oatmeal, waited a few minutes, had another cup of coffee. At that point something interesting happened. I felt the hand of Holy Spirit on my shoulder, patting me, indicating that it was OK to go up for more. So I did. I ordered a double cheese omelet and scooped up some lovely potatoes before returning to my table. I ate it all, and with every bite felt energy and power simply flowing into my body and spirit. I waited a few more minutes. Another tap on my shoulder as if to say, “It’s alright. Go ahead.” I made one of those big Belgian waffles; you know, the kind that fills the whole plate. A little butter, a lot of hot syrup. Ate it all. Felt absolutely fantastic. Waited a little, had another cup of coffee. Another tap on the shoulder. Got a beautiful bowl of fresh fruit – cantaloupe, melon, pineapple. Cleaned it up. Felt even better. No more tap on the shoulder. I returned to my room, and felt as if I was literally gliding over the floor. As I walked or glided or whatever it was I distinctly heard the enemy say, “You’re going to get sick!” I didn’t even acknowledge it and just kept going.
How can I describe what I was feeling? For many years I have sung the wonderful verse from Isaiah 40:31 – “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” For the first time in my life I actually experienced that divine promise. I literally felt (and still feel) twenty years younger.
There was an amazing presence of the Lord when I returned to my room. I immediately began to worship. Before I knew it, it was time to leave for the services. There was a sense of purpose that I had not experienced before. This continued to grow and expand within me so that by the time I was actually able to minister the Word I felt ready to explode. The unction of the Spirit was palpable and powerful, but it wasn’t until ministry at the altar that the full release of the anointing was revealed. I have very simply never known anything like it in my entire ministry experience; it far overshadowed what has already been described in the previous chapter.
Here is what I have learned, and the lesson I would leave with you: