Fasting List-School: 40 is NOT a Magic Number
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40 is NOT a Magic Number - Teresa Seputis

Originally from: (Teresa Seputis)

Originally dated: Mon, 10 Mar 1997 14:35:30 -0800 (PST)

I just wanted to share with you that 40 is NOT a magic number. God has called some of us to fast for 40 days. If you are called to fast 40 days, then it is a good idea to obey God and look to Him for grace to do so. I would never encourage anyone to intentionally disobey God.

However, there are many of us on this list who have NOT been called to fast a full 40 days... at least not on a water/juice fast. I am concerned that some of us are feeling pressure to fast harder or longer than what God has called us to do simply because He has called some others to harder or longer fasts. (It's not really "peer pressure" because no one on the list is pressuring anyone else. However, there through unintentional comparisons, enemy accusations, etc, some of us have been experiencing that pressure. The enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy.. and I am concerned that he is stealing some of our victory regarding fasting. I think he is doing this by trying to put us under greater expectations regarding fasting than God has put on us ... then trying to make us feel guilty when we don't live up to those false expectations.)

I have a friend who is on staff at a large Church. God called her to a Daniel fast (just plain vegetables). She was on this fast for about two weeks... in was incredibly hard for her -- harder than for me to do a liquid fast. She came under some intense spiritual warfare, which is not at all uncommon on long fasts, and remained faithful. She invited the Lord into the situation and saw some dramatic answers to prayer. Then, the grace and unction for fasting seemed to go away. I think that might have been because she'd completed her appointed fast time... but she had "40 days" in her mind because all of the other pastors at the church where she is on staff at were fasting 40 days. She struggled for a few days to keep the fast in her own strength and then finally gave up. She felt a bit bad and defeated at not going a full 40 days... when she had a right to be rejoicing at fasting as long as she had done. We certainly saw the hand of God move dramaticly in her life and situation... and I suspect her fast was a smashing success. But I think the enemy stole some of her joy by making her feel bad that she did not go as long as the rest of the staff went.

I heard a story today of one of the 40-day list members who has unsubscribed. He started what he believed would be a 40-day fast. During the fast, as he began to hear God's voice more clearly, God began to tell him that He only wanted him to fast 21 days. When day 22 came, he went ahead and broke the fast, as per God's instructions. But, if I understand the story correctly, he felt embarassed by stopping the fast at 21 days when many were going 40, and he dropped off of the list. Here he had heard God's voice clearly and obeyed. In my opinion, he should be commended for hearing and obeying God's voice, not embarassed for only fasting 21 days. How dare the enemy make someone feel bad for hearing and obeying the Lord!

In my case, God called me to fast 21 days... He made that very clear to me before I ever started the fast, and also gave me clear instructions on what I could and could not have during the fast -- juices, water, decaf coffee and non-fat milk. At the time, I was really disappointed with these instructions because it sounded like such a wimpy fast... and lotsa folks on this list were doing a full 40 day fast, many of them water only for a large portion of it. I began to feel somewhat pressured... gee if folks who've never fasted before are do 40 days on just juices and water (no milk), then shouldn't I do likewise. "After all," the enemy whispered into my ear, immitating my own voice so clearly that I thought it was my idea, "I am the 'moderator' of this list... I should not be doing a fast that is shorter and easier than what some of the others are doing..." So, on day 1 I tried to do water-only fast... and nearly did not make it through the day. I went crying to the Lord for sympathy/help and instead I got a rebuke. God wanted to know why I was being prideful and disobeying Him by trying to do a harder fast than He had called me to. He told me that displeased Him, because He wanted me to obey Him, not try to impress Him. Then he brought me to I Samuel 15:22-23. I realized that my attempt at a water only fast was sacrifice instead of obedience and I repented. The Lord immediately forgave and restored me and put a grace on me to fast.

You think I would have learned from that experience ... but no. I had heard clearly before I started the fast that God was calling me to 21 days. Yet, I keep seeking Him for permission to go a full 40.... after all, everyone else was. What I kept hearing from the Lord was, "what I have called you to is enough. Don't try to make it harder on yourself that I have called you to, or you will become discouraged and won't be able to obey even the part I have called you to." Near the end, I realized I was still struggling with a false expectation that I should fast 40 days instead of obeying what the Lord had told me so clearly before I started. I think that there was probably also some pride mixed in... after all, shouldn't the 'originator' of the 40-day list fast 40 days? What would people think of me if I only went 21?

I finally prayed and asked the Lord to break off any expectations about this fast that were not from Him and to speak to me clearly about what He wanted me to do. Well, I learned that God is not fickle... He still only wanted me to fast for 21 days -- surprise, surprise. So I went ahead and broke the fast ... and I felt a little guilty about it even through I knew God was not calling me to fast longer. So I brought the guilt to the Lord and invited Him to shine His light in. Then He pointed out to me how the enemy comes to steal and destroy (John 10:10). I began to see how the enemy was trying to steal my joy/victory at completing my appointed fast and obeying God. I took authority over it and guess what... no more guilt. Then the Lord began to show me that I am not the only person on this list who the enemy has been trying to steal from.

So my prayer for each person on the list is this:

Lord please show each person exactly what type of a fast that you have called him/her to. Please show them if they are one of the ones who has been given expectations about fasting that exceed what You have commanded them to do. Please break off any false guilt or condemnation or pressure that the enemy is trying to put on anyone on the list. Please come and bring Your light and Your glory and Your clarity into each person's situation. Break off any false shame that the enemy would try to burdon people with. Yet at the same time, give a real clarity and confirmation to those who have correctly heard your instructions about how long to fast for and what type of fast to do. Don't let anyone be talked into trying to do more than You have called them to do... yet at the same time, don't let anyone be talked out of doing the full extent of what You have called them to do. Give each person the discrenment to clearly understand your instructions to them and give them the grace to obey those instructions without adding to them or taking away from them. And continue to reveal more of Yourself and more of the power of prayer to each of us. AMEN


- teresa (

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