TRANSCRIPTION | Wednesday, January 20, 2021 | The Power of Prayer and Fasting

 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Hey, welcome to our online Bible study. We've been meeting here every Wednesday night 6:30pm, Central; 7:30pm, Eastern Time; Facebook; YouTube; or 3trees.online.church, just to have a time to see what the Lord may have to say to us through Scripture. Tonight we're going to be talking about the power of prayer and fasting. You know, it's the start of a new year. And when you begin a new year, there's so much talk about resolutions and things that you kind of get the chance to reset on. Man, 2020, it was a year where definitely we all want a reset button. And honestly, as we've come into 2021 seems like maybe it's not going to be an easy button for sure. There's still some challenges that are in front of us, as individuals, as communities, as a culture, and even as a nation, as a world. But you know, when you don't know what to do, you got to know where to go. And ultimately, the answer lies in going to God. And so it's interesting to take a look at scripture and see how many times great men and women of God utilized prayer and fasting to really if you will open up a portal just for God to move through their lives and to do things in the earth. You know, one of the things I've been sharing with our congregation is something that's been sewn into my life over the years that when Jesus taught us how to pray, he taught us to pray, Heavenly Father, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Notice the nature of that prayer. We’re not being told by Jesus to pray that we would be able to pull culture or pull others up. But instead, we're being taught to pray that we would be able to pull Heaven down. Just think about the difference in that of, okay, I'm trying to pull my family up, I'm trying to pull all those people that are struggling up versus, hey, I'm just a facilitator for Heaven to come down. And I believe that that's how we are to look at prayer and fasting, that we are just opening our lives up as a vessel for God to work through us as he works in us, first and foremost. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And so in Scripture, there's a passage of text, multiple passages on the subject of prayer and fasting. In fact, if you go to 3trees.com, you can find a link there, ericgilbert.org, as well. You can find a link with some fasting resources to just assist you beyond even what we're going to talk about tonight in a more detailed way. But look at this in Matthew chapter number 17, it’s verse number 14, “And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to him kneeling down and said, Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic. He suffers severely, and he often falls into the fire. He even falls into the water. And so I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him. And then Jesus answered, and he said, oh, you faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you, bring him to me. And watch this, Jesus rebuked the demon. And it came out of him. And the child was cured from that very hour. And the disciples came to Jesus privately. And they said, Why could we not cast it out? And Jesus said to them, because of your unbelief, for as surely I say to you, if you have faith as of a mustard seed, you will say to a mountain move from here to there, and it will move and nothing will be impossible to you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. Notice however this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, what happens here is there is, just to recap it, there is a father who is struggling because his son is bound by some type of demonic activity. And when this spiritual darkness comes against this young man, it tries to throw him into the fire, it tries to throw him into the water, it tries to burn him, it tries to drown him. It's just trying to cause this young man pain, this family pain. And the father when he didn't know what to do, he knew where to go, he knew to go to people who had a relationship with Jesus, and he reaches out to these guys, the disciples of Jesus, and he's like, hey, could you could you pray for my son, could you take authority over this demonic activity that he can be free. And what we discover is that the disciples prayed, and they weren't successful. But when Jesus prayed, he was successful. And so, the disciples come to Jesus and they're like, man, we don't understand. They're in a private chamber with Jesus, they're talking to him, they’re having this little private discipleship moment, Jesus help us understand why were we not able to cast this devil out when you were successful. And Jesus tells them, it's all about faith. He said, if you don't have faith, you're not gonna be able to do it. And he says to him, it doesn't take a lot of faith, just faith the size of a mustard seed, and you could literally move them around. But, however, this kind only comes out by prayer and fasting. There's a lot of things that Jesus seems to be implying there. He seems to be implying that prayer and fasting are a way in which that we can actually increase our faith. Now, that's important to think about because the New Testament actually teaches us that every single person has been given a measure of faith. That's intriguing terminology that Scripture says, every person has been given a measure of faith. It implies that faith is measurable. It implies that some persons might have more faith than other people. That if it's measurable, it means maybe one person's got this much faith and next person's got this much faith. Maybe it's implying that there's somebody that's got faith like a mustard seed, maybe somebody else has got faith like a pumpkin seed, I don't know. But it implies that faith can be measured. And anything that can be measured can either be increased or can be decreased. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

So, Scripture tells us that when a man sews, he will reap. Scripture says that when a man sows sparingly, he reaps sparingly; when he sows bountifully, he reaps bountifully. Scripture also tells us that if someone sews to the flesh, they reap the flesh; if they sow to the spirit, they reap to the spirit. Why is all that important? Because it's talking about measurements. And so when we think about the fact that we could sew to the spirit and reap to the spirit, and if we sewed bountifully to the spirit, we would reap bountifully from the spirit; well, then, what do we want to do? We want to starve our flesh and feed our spirit. Now, before you take that too far in the realm of talking about diet, fast, etc, what we're saying there is there was probably the need for seasons in our life where that we set aside time to let God know that we are more hungry for Heaven than we are for earth. We are more hungry for the presence of God than we even are for that next meal. And you know, it's amazing how that when circumstances happening, that spiritual hunger, that spiritual craving intensifies. That's okay, utilize those moments like a fuel in your life to increase the measure of the Holy Spirit in your life through prayer and fasting. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And so Jesus has told him, hey, if you had the faith, you could have cast out this demon. However, this kind. In other words, this kind. When you're up against the pig devils, when you're up against the really difficult things in life. When you're up against like spiritual wickedness that is of the next level kind. I’ve said this for years, another level, another devil. Somebody said it to me a long time ago, I've never forgotten it. It makes so much sense that when you go to that next level, there's going to be another devil. There's going to be something else that comes against you. The enemy is going to try even harder to push you down. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, the Bible actually tells us that in the last days, it'll be another level of another devil. That Scripture tells us that in the last days, there's going to be stuff that the enemy is going to save just for those moments to bring stuff out of his arsenal that no generation, no people on earth have ever seen before until that time period. Now it sure looks like we're living in the last days. I have no clue how it all comes out chronologically, neither do you. But when you start looking at the way that things appear, it's not hard to believe that we are living in the last days. And if that's the case, it means that the enemy is gonna pull stuff out of his arsenal that no generation has ever had to deal with before. And in those moments, it's gonna be this kind of devil. It's going to be something that you're going to need all the faith that you can muster to be able to deal with what the enemy’s trying to throw at you. And so if that be the case, then we want to increase our faith. And this kind comes out only through prayer and fasting. And so if you've never been intentional in your prayer time, hey, let me make a recommendation to you, it's probably about time to get intentional. And if you've never been intentional about being a person of fasting, and that's something you feel turning over in your heart right now, then it's probably about time to learn how to be a person who lives a lifestyle of prayer and fasting. And so our church is in 21 days where we're just trying to pick out some mealtimes we're trying to pick out some days, maybe we're even trying to pick out some sections of weeks where that we're saying, okay, we're going to take those times when we typically would have sat down and enjoyed a natural meal, and we're going to replace it with a spiritual meal. We're going to take a time where that we're going to just supplement with Word, supplement with private time with the Lord, supplement with really making sure that our prayer life is what it could be, and should be with God. Because we know that we're up against, like Jesus said, this kind comes out only through prayer and fasting. We're up against that kind of devil, and we want to pray, and we want to fast, we want to seek the Lord. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, another thing that I would just say in the vein of prayer and fasting that's always stuck out to me in regards to what Jesus taught, it's also recorded in the book of Matthew, it's chapter number nine. Let's look at verse 14 and verse 15. “And then the disciples of John, they came to Jesus saying, why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast? And Jesus said to them, can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, but the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Now, what seems to be said here is that John the Baptist had disciples, and then obviously there were Pharisees who were hanging out in the temple environments, and they were giving themselves over to the study of the Word, to praying, and fasting. And so John's disciples, they're really focused on fasting a lot. The Pharisees are focused on fasting a lot. But then they notice, wait a second, Jesus and his disciples, those disciples don't seem to be fasting a lot. They seem to be eating more than they're fasting. And John's disciples come to Jesus and are like, hey, we need some clarification on this. Because John's got us fasting, and Pharisees are fasting, and your guys seem to be eating a lot more than we are. Or can you help us understand that, we don't get it? And Jesus says, when the bridegroom is near, you don't fast, instead, that's the moment when you're feasting. And so what Jesus seems to be saying is that, when he's in this close proximity of relationship with his disciples, there's not as much need for them to fast because that's that time of celebration that his presence is close to them. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Now notice, we go on over into the book of Matthew, and they've tried to cast out a devil, and Jesus wasn't with them. And Jesus says to him, the reason you weren't able to do this is because you weren't practicing a lifestyle of prayer and fasting so that your faith could be increased. Now, what I think we take away from this is that just exactly what Jesus tells John the Baptist’s disciples, is that when he's near, it's not as important that you fast, but when he's not near, it is very important that you fast. And the disciples saw that a devil literally kicked their tail, because they hadn't been fasting when Jesus wasn't near, when he wasn't with them. So if we have a takeaway from that, in practical application, it's probably that when we don't sense the presence of God near, like, when it feels like that we're in some place in our relationship with God, where he's just a little further away than what we're accustomed to. And we're not sensing that his presence is saturating and soaking everything that we're doing, it's probably a great time to recognize, hey, I may need some time set aside to fast and seek the Lord during this season, during this time period. And I hope that makes sense to you that there's some times when it just feels like God is so near it just feels like man, I just sense God in everything. I'm driving on the road, and I sense God. I'm having a private time, you know, just maybe having lunch, and I sense, God. But there's other moments where just maybe he doesn't feel as near, and maybe that's a great time for you to have a cue in your own walk with God of hey, today's a day when it would do me some good to give strong consideration to setting aside that natural mealtime and instead just spend some time eating spiritually on the Word of God, the true bread of life, and then engaging the presence of the Lord because my faith needs some impartation. My faith needs to go up to the next level, so that I can whip on this kind of devil. New level, new devil, gotta be ready to fight. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

So I give you some testimony, as we kind of close this time together today, about places where I’ve seen prayer and fasting work for our church and even in our personal life. So the story of 3trees is that In September of 2020, we celebrated our 20th year of ministry. God's been so good to us, God's been so gracious to us. You know, when we first got started, as a pastor, I had no clue what I was doing. You know honestly, probably still don't have a clue what I'm doing. But God has brought us from a place where we were in a little converted truckstop restaurant, and had six people sitting on borrowed funeral home chairs, running a little piano. And me and Mandy were trying to lead music and provide the preaching. And I mean, I can't even figure out how God was ever able to use some of what that looked like in the beginning stages. But within a couple of years, we had experienced some growth. And we were realizing it was time to move out of the little truckstop restaurant and go purchase some land and build a small building. And we stepped out by faith to purchase some land. And once we purchased that land, we again, inexperience of a young pastor 20 years ago, realized there was an issue with the right away. And it didn't look like it was going to go away easy. In fact, the other person involved in the right away issue was wanting to take it to court. And I didn't have peace about that and didn't feel like that's what we were supposed to do. And we just started praying, like God, what are we supposed to do. And we felt like that there was an alternative, that instead of arguing over this particular right away, maybe we could buy land from an adjoining property owner. And even though that would cost more money, we just felt like it was the right thing to do to give peace to the situation, and then we could build a new road and make our own right away. And the problem was, somebody had to sell us land. And when we talked to the other landowners, nobody felt good about that. And we're like, well, what are we supposed to do? We prayed. And my father, who has always been a man of prayer and fasting, felt like that he was supposed to go on a 40-day fast. Now, 40-day fast is something I've only heard about in the Bible. But my dad felt like that, that's what God was calling him to. And he just wanted to see his faith increased. And my dad really felt like what was standing between us and a miracle was a lack of faith. And, again, all these things we've talked about earlier in this Bible study tonight, you know, this kind comes out only through prayer and fasting, because if you got enough faith, you can move a mountain with even just the faith of a mustard seed. So my dad believes in this scenario that I'm talking about 20 years ago, 18-20 years ago, if he fast, his faith is going to increase, and God's gonna move this mountain, that's a right away issue for us. So, my dad started fasting, and he was abstaining from food. And in the 40th day, we still didn't have a breakthrough. But it was somewhere around about that 40th day that we felt impressed by the Lord, that we were supposed to go and draw up the purchase contract for the land we were trying to buy to fix the right away issue, draw it up in advance. So, we drew it up in advance. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And you know, my dad, he decided to extend the fast. And on the 43rd day of his fast, I got a phone call at 7:30 in the morning, and it was the owner of this property we've been trying to buy, and we're notified, ready to sell and ready to sell now. You know what I did, I grabbed that purchase contract that had been drawn up in advance by faith, and within 30 minutes, I was sitting at that person's kitchen table. My dad went with me. We sat down, signed the paperwork. And for a very reasonable sum, we were able to buy this land, and then build the right away. And we were able to construct the first ever church facility that 3trees owned. And I've just, I've looked back so many times and reflected upon how our faith increased during that time of prayer and fasting, and especially on behalf of my father. How he just set a standard right there at the very beginning of we're gonna trust God. And if God gets us in, God's gonna get us out. And that measure of faith increased until a mountain was moved. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, it's kind of funny to think that the first 3trees facility wound up on a hillside. And the way that we built that road was by moving a mountain of dirt out of that hillside and putting it down in what was a valley, and anybody that comes into the Russell springs facility from the Russell Spring’s side of highway 80, you're driving on a miracle, because a mountain that dirt was moved down into that valley, and we just drive across it. Every time we come in the property, it just seems so mundane, just pulling into the property. Listen, it was a miracle to make that facility take place. And now God's blessed us so much to have Campbellsville and Columbia, and we believe there's more locations to come. We're going to pray, we're going to fast, and we're going to believe that we're going to plunder hell, and we're going to populate Heaven. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Maybe you're believing for a loved one to be saved, and that's what you pray and fast about. Maybe you're believing for God to give you direction, God to give you clarity. Maybe that's what you pray and fast about. Maybe there's a situation that's been giving you anxiety. Maybe it's even a health situation, and somebody loves somebody you care about, and you feel like, hey I need to pray, I need to fast. You let the Lord speak to you individually. And again, if you want further clarity, you can go to ericgilbert.org. I think we also have it at 3trees.com. You can grab some items there that we've prepared to help you more practically understand the why behind the what when it comes to praying and fasting. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And so I've also found that when I pray, and when I spend time fasting, not only does it make me feel nearer to God, and increase my faith, but I've also found there is a clarity that seems to just cut through the confusion. I've found that I'm more broken. I found that so many times in praying and fasting, I just feel like I'm more in tune with the heart of God, and places where I would have been calloused, and I would have been hard hearted, I find myself just being very broken, and being very kind. And I've found in those moments where I've went a long time and just felt like I don't know what God wants me to do, just suddenly, it just almost unexpectedly, it's like you just hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit, and you know exactly what it is that God wants you to do next. And there's an assurance that's associated with it. I've seen in moments like that dreams and visions seem to be heightened in regards to a relationship with the Lord. It seems like gifts of the Holy Spirit function with greater clarity and even greater power and greater authority. And all of that comes from God is near and faith is increased. Faith is increased, and God is near. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

What really happens with praying and fasting? You're making yourself available to God. And there's a part of you that you're emptying out and you're saying, God, fill me up. I want to pray with you. Father, I ask you that as we go into this new year that we will be people of prayer and fasting that are available to you, and that we're emptying out places in our life, God, where that you can feel us up to greater levels of your Holy Spirit. Show us God, lead us, and teach us, guide us in how to increase our faith, and also God experience your presence in greater ways. Lord, we're yours. And we make ourselves available to you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Thank you so much for giving me the chance to hang out with you tonight. I want to hang out with you again next Wednesday night. We'll have another online Bible study, 6:30pm, Central; 7:30pm, Eastern Time; YouTube; Facebook; or 3trees.online.church, any of those portals, you can join us. I'd also love to worship with you on Sunday morning, whether that's at one of our locations. You can go to 3trees.com, find the service times and the addresses or you can join us for church online. The church online time is 9:30, Central; 10:30, Eastern, on all those same portals that I mentioned just a moment ago. God bless you. I promise you this if you go with God, he'll go with you, greater things are yet to come in your life.