Fasting has an impressive record of achievement in the Book of Acts. The first time it is encountered is in connection with Cornelius:
30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. 33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
Cornelius and his companions believed, and were well rewarded:
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
Peter later emphasized to those that criticized him that the falling of the Holy Spirit on these Gentiles was an exact copy of how the Spirit fell on them at the beginning. This news astounded his critics, forcing them to realize that the Gentiles could be saved as well. While his praying and alms giving were commended by the angel, it was his fasting that seemed to trigger this breakthrough to a new life for himself, and forced a wider view of the Gospel on the Jewish Christian community.
Fasting was practiced as a spiritual discipline by the prophets and teachers of the Church at Antioch:
1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 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." 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
Although they already had the Spirit active to the point of being teachers and prophets, they nevertheless added fasting to their prayer and worship, enabling them to hear a specific command of the Holy Spirit to begin a ministry that would transform the Greco-Roman world and take Christianity to Europe.
While it is true that fasting clears the mind, and does bring revelation and insights from God, I have had enough experience working in Stage 2 to say that I do not perceive a great advantage to fasting when it comes to results. Indeed, I had to be fasting for at least a day before I started getting anywhere that was comparable to what I now get after an hour of concentration alone, or two in fellowship. On the other hand, I should mention that I am comparing pre-symbiotic fasting to symbiotic meditation.
Yet, the teaching staff at Antioch (a gathering of theological giants unequalled before or since) thought it necessary to fast while worshipping the Lord. We don't have enough context to figure out what prompted them. Perhaps it was them following their Jewish traditions or celebrating a Jewish fast day. Perhaps they felt a heaviness of sorts and fasted to get a clear signal from God. But fast they did, so it behooves me to heed wiser men than I, and consider fasting if moved by the Holy Spirit.
My impression is that the side-effect of a clearer mind is not the causative agent of illumination from the Holy Spirit: other religions also practice fasting. They also report similar clarity of thought. Yet, there is no revelation that brings them closer to the True God or True Religion. What makes the difference?
I believe the difference is that fasting signals determination.
Although it sounds mechanistic, the reason why I formulate and follow protocols for communicating with the Holy Spirit is that it gives me reasonable assurance of truly identifying thoughts originating from the Holy Spirit. There is no problem with the Holy Spirit knowing what my thoughts are. The REAL problem is distinguishing the thoughts generated by the Holy Spirit from natural thoughts generated by a heart prone to self-delusion. The latter I take with a grain of salt, and the former I obey with diligence and determination.
It may seem sacreligious to propose a protocol to God and expect Him to follow it, as if we are putting a leash on him and leading him around! However, this overlooks the purpose that protocols serve as part of our techno-scientific approach to the Scriptures: it keeps us honest and forces us to acknowledge results that contradict our pre-conceptions or pet theories. The purpose of the protocol is not to leash God to our purposes, but to bind us to acknowledge and follow the results of the protocol, regardless of how contradictory they may seem to our religious dogmas, theories, and teachings. We talk of obedience of action when confronted with the requirements of the Gospel or the Moral Law, but there is also the obedience of belief when confronted with the truth. Scientific protocols exist to uncover reality in a way that forces re-evaluation of beliefs and theories when the facts and results contradict them. A protocol that forces an honest man to shove his nose into the truth, whether he likes it or not at first, with the intent of making himself like it, is something with which the Spirit charged with leading us unto all truth can work with.
Provided we were serious.
Simpy put, the Spirit knows when we are kidding ourselves or fooling ourselves, and He has no interest in supporting self-delusions and the lies we tell ourselves and others. A faith that is mis-placed and mis-directed is not rewarded, but faith in specific people and objectives is:
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
The first bolded phrase is reflected in the belief in the truth of Symbiosis and the implications of the biblically reconstructed location of a Holy Spirit actually, physically, and truly endo-symbiotic within the seeker (researcher). The second bolded phrase is reflected in the belief that Symbiote-to-Host communication is possible, and that protocols honestly and strictly adhered to by the Host reflects a diligence to obey anything received that matches the protocols. It is up to the Host to propose reasonable, but effective, protocols and diligently honor and obey the results. It is up to the Holy Spirit to ensure that the thoughts sent up the Bitstream can be reasonably identified with few or no false positives.
This is not to say that the protocols proposed by the Host are perfect: both Symbiote and Host know that the Host isn't perfect! What is necessary is an honest and honorable attempt to come up with better protocols when a real design flaw is discovered. It was not a lack of faith that caused Gideon to reverse the conditions of his fleece test, but an honest doubt as to whether the conditions would have allowed for a natural explanation of the first result. His subsequent action in going forward in obedience upon receiving the opposite result proved that his modification of the protocoal was due to honest doubt, not in God's ability, but in the design of his test to ensure that it was God, not nature, being tested. Believing a false positive to be true with regard to God's will is what is called presumption, not the process by which one attempts to establish its status as true or false!
It should be instructive to consider the difference between Gideon's protocols and those of Naturalism/Scientific Materialism. Consider the reaction of Gideon to that of scientists when confronted with a similar result coming from the Fleece Experiment. Gideon was not as uncritical as modern scientists try to paint the Ancients: regardless of whether dew is preferentially attracted to the fleece or not, Gideon knew enough of the laws of nature to know that they do not normally reverse themselves when one prays. It was his knowledge that the laws of nature are normally consistent that allowed him to tighten his protocols. It was his knowledge that a reversal was not natural that allowed him to be confident that he had eliminated a natural explanation when that reversal actually took place, leaving a spiritual explanation as the only viable alternative to believe. In contrast, a naturalistic scientist holds that a spiritual explanation is to be excluded from the start on principle. Thus, when faced with a contrary result, he continues to believe the protocol is at fault and strives for a natural explanation that would reconcile contradictory results that his naturalism would normally state is impossible. To such a scientist, falsification of naturalism is not acceptable, despite the impossible actually happening. This is not just acting in bad faith: it is holding naturalism as a faith, not as an operating rule of thumb.
Gideon's experiment was not a case of the protocol forcing God to work: it was Gideon's honesty and honorable determination to interpret a certain result as undeniably Divine to convince him to believe to the point of action that God honored by working the miracle. Protocols do not force God to obey the researcher. Protocols force the honest researcher to obey God.
What does fasting have to do with all the above? Fasting proves nothing about protocols: fasting proves the determination of the faster to obey the results of the protocols. What comes first is an intense desire to know God, His Will, and the Truth. What comes next is a sort of vow to follow what is revealed of God, His Will, or the Truth. That's where prayer comes in, for you need to ask God for a revelation of Himself, His Will, or the Truth. Then comes the development of a protocol that allows you to distinguish between falsehood and truth that allows you to follow the latter with confidence. Fasting communicates determination and serious intent to obey, and comes next. The next step is God responding to your request. The next step after that is you determining that the response is from God or a false positive due to bad protocol design. The final step is obedience if you determine that the response is from God.
It should be pointed out that early instances of fasting in the Old Testament were performed in times of extreme emergency or when commanded by God during the Day of Atonement to express remorse and confession after serious introspection and uncovering of one's sins and spiritual failings. Regular fasting seems to have been a Pharisaical add-on to New Testamental Judaism similar to the ritual washings of hands, cups, and plates that Jesus viewed skeptically.
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