Jentezen Franklin - Fasting Is Hungering For God
"Fasting is Hungering for God". And it sounds so simple, but I wanna tell you that when you fast, some things that you probably need to expect, that at some point, the fun wears off. At some point, it becomes a grind. At some point, you begin to hear the voice: What's the use? This is stupid. When you wanna quit the most, that is the time that the fast is being most effective. Not only is God taking notice of you, but Satan is taking notice of you when you're fasting. There is in your body something called ghrelin. G-H-R-E-L-I-N. Ghrelin, in the simplest way that I can say it, is what makes your stomach growl.
Have you ever been sitting, maybe it's about to happen now already, and this growl comes up, and it's embarrassing, it's an embarrassing noise that comes from the middle of your body, and you have absolutely no control over it. Well, ghrelin is this, it's this hormone, it's called the hunger hormone, that causes your stomach to growl and it's also what triggers the feeling of hunger in your body. Nobody has to go around and try to remember to be hungry, because you have ghrelin, and ghrelin assaults you about once every two or three hours, and it grumbles and it makes you know that you need to eat. It's that growling noise in your body that will only stop embarrassing you if you feed it a twinkie, if you feed it a cookie, if you give it a cheeseburger, it'll calm down. And get used to that, 'cause you're gonna hear it a lot over the next few days.
Nobody tries to remember to eat, because you have hunger hormones that stir you up all through the day, and say, "Feed me. You haven't eaten lunch. You haven't eaten breakfast. Feed me". How many of you have good ghrelin that works? Say, "Amen". So here's what I'm saying to you. You're gonna think that God is recreating the miracle that He did in the Book of Joshua, when He made the sun stand still. It's gonna feel like the day is not moving, and you're gonna look at your watch, and you're gonna think, it's gotta be 6:30 in the afternoon, and it's gonna be 9:30 in the morning, and you're gonna be so hungry, and you're gonna think, time has stopped, I can't do this, this is nuts. But that's when the fast is working.
That's when you will begin to understand what Jesus did and what He commanded that His disciples do in seasons of fasting and prayer. And my point is this, I want God to give you such a spiritual ghrelin hormone, spiritual hunger, for God that all through this fast, there's a stirring. I need to read my Bible, I need to pray, I need to worship, I need Jesus. I can't have another year like I had. I don't wanna go through another year where I just kinda go through the motions of Christianity. I want to hunger for God, and I'm praying that spiritually, there's a growl, there's a disturbing thing on the inside of you that says, "I need God. My family needs God. I need to fast, and I need to pray".
I'm praying that that will become so real, that you will reach a point that your spiritual life becomes as active as your snack life. I mean, your snack life, when that hormone of hunger gets going, you're always looking for some chips, looking for some salsa, looking for some almonds, looking for this, looking for that. I'm praying that your spiritual hunger for God is as active as your hunger for snacks.
When you don't pray, you get just as miserable as you feel when you haven't eaten. And it begins to grip you at some point, this fun thing, this thing, if you start out with a motive, "Well, I need to lose a few little pounds, and so, I'm gonna go", I promise you, that's gonna wear off real quick and your mind will tell you, there's a whole lot easier ways to lose weight than this. But when it does, that's when all of these distractions are being cleared away, and Jesus is becoming real, if you'll let Him, in your life in a powerful, new way. And that annoying, gnawing hunger that we get when we don't eat physical food, I'm telling you, that now you're gonna have that same gnawing in the spiritual dimension for spiritual food.
And I pray that somebody says, "I want a spiritual hunger to grip me". I wanna ask you a question, are you hungry after God? Are you willing to say, in 2020, "I'm not willing to live this year like I did with some things last year". I'm not willing to sit here and just go through the motions, because I'm hungry, and fasting is hungering for God. All along in our journey, we need to show God that we hunger for Him. Nothing else can satisfy.
In the Book of 2 Kings 7, there's the story, and the Bible said that the city was completely surrounded, and Israel had been cut off, and all the inhabitants were under siege. It was such a crisis that they had run out of food, the rations were gone, and they were in a dire, dire condition. They became so desperate, because they didn't have anything to eat, they become so hungry that the Bible said things that would have been unacceptable for consumption, now, they're fighting over. They're so hungry that they're fighting over things that normally they would never even consume and eat.
For example, the Bible said the people in this city became so hungry that for 80 pieces of silver, you could buy a donkey's head, and they would peel the skin off of the donkey's head and cook it, and that was how desperate they were to have anything to eat. And if that wasn't bad enough, the Bible gave another example, and it said the people were so hungry that for five pieces of silver, you could buy a cup of dove's dung. Dove's waste. You see, when you're hungry, if you don't consume the right things to fill that hunger, then you will begin to feed on things you never said you would consume.
I believe with all of my heart, if you don't direct your spiritual hunger in seasons to feed and hunger after spiritual things, that those hungers, that if you don't direct them toward God and the Word and worship and a greater relationship with Jesus, then those hungers will direct you to the wrong things. And you'll begin to feed on things on the internet, and you'll begin to feed on things that are carnal, that begin to leave your soul lean and empty, and you're drying up, and spiritually, it's been so long since you had a touch of Jesus, because you're feeding only the carnal things, and it's really a God hunger that's crying out, "Come back to Me. Come and seek Me in fasting and in prayer and draw near to Me, and I'll draw near to you".
But we don't take time to ever feed our hunger for God, and when we try to substitute junk food, donkey's heads and dove's dung, I believe that if you do not address that spiritual hunger for more of God, you will start filling it with more and more, and we try so desperately to fill what only God can fill, and it's another thing, another trip, another entertainment, another distraction, another let's go to the game, let's go to the lake, let's go to the beach, let's go to the mountains, let's try this, let me get that house, let me get that car, let me try this new project. And we keep trying to fill the God hunger, but there is a gnawing and a grumbling inside that says, "Nothing can meet the need of God in your life but seeking Him". And when He comes, when you seek Him first, then all of these things are added unto you.
The Bible said that there were lepers outside of that city. In other words, they were outcast, I mean, it's bad to be inside the city, literally, where people are buying and eating donkey's heads and dove's dung, and these guys were even more desperate, because they were lepers, and that disease would cause literal parts of your body to fall off, and spiritually speaking, their life was falling to pieces. They were outcast. They were told, "You're not even important enough to be on the inside of the rest of us".
And I felt the Lord spoke to me as I was preparing this little sermon, and He said to tell some people that you don't dare let the devil tell you that you're unimportant in 2020. You don't dare let the enemy tell you that you don't matter. You don't dare let the enemy tell you that you are to sit there and just die, because sometimes, the least likely people are the most hungry people. Sometimes, the people who are most disadvantaged and overlooked and said, "You're not pretty enough, you're not talented enough, you're not gifted enough," but, boy, if they've got hunger, look out, because hunger can do for you what talent and gifting cannot do for you. In the story I'm preaching, there were four lepers outside the wall. They were outcast and their life was falling to pieces, but they were hungry, so hungry that they said, "I can't", they asked this question, "Why sit here until we die"?
See, the only thing that will move you out of your comfort zone, out of complacency, into the things that only God can do for you, this is what the Lord told me to tell you, He said, "The only thing that will get you there is hunger". The only thing that lifted them out of their self-pity was hunger. The only thing that lifted them out of their excuses, "We might as well, nobody else is doing anything, we're all dying, so we'll die here together".
The only thing that pushed them was hunger. The only thing that caused them to begin to move toward their destiny and a brighter day was hunger, and hunger will drive you and push you, and fasting is hungering for God. The Bible said that there were four of them, and I think probably one of 'em was sitting there, and he had tacos on his mind. One was sitting there, and he had fried chicken on his mind, and one was sitting there, and he had Krispy Kreme donuts on his mind. But one stood up and said, "I can't sit here. I can't have another year like I had. We're dying. Why sit here until we die"? He says, "You know, if we entered the city, he'll keep us alive, and we'll live, but if they kill us, we'll die".
Now, listen to this thinking. Listen to this. "Now therefore come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive," this guy was a college graduate I'm sure: "We shall live. If they kill us, we shall die". That's brilliant, isn't it? But why sit here until we die? That hunger began to drive them. He began to hunger, and he said, "There's gotta be more". And it was the hunger that began to move him toward the direction of the plan and the purpose and the miracle that God had for him, and I believe with all of my heart that there are things that God will do for people when they hunger for Him, when they fast and they pray, fasting is hungering for God, and when you begin to hunger for God, suddenly, you move up out of the challenges and the comfort zone, and you move up out of self-pity, and up out of depression and hopelessness.
And the hunger began to move, and they began to take steps, four of them, toward the enemy's camp. Things even got more desperate inside the walls of that city, so much so that the Bible gives one more astonishing description. They became so hungry that the Bible said they began to boil and eat their own babies, their own flesh and blood, and make bargains, and say, "We eat your child today, we eat my child tomorrow".
See, we don't understand hunger. We don't understand hunger. I'm talking about people who were so desperate with hunger. And what I want you to understand about that is, is that when people do not fill the spiritual hunger for God with spiritual things, in homes, in families, in marriages, when they only feed on donkey's heads and dove's dung and carnality and think that's enough to hold your marriage and bless your family, when you only feed on carnal things and you don't feed spiritual hunger for God with a hunger for God, then guess what? You start turning on one another. You start devouring one another. You start attacking one another, and the enemy comes and divides families and divides homes, and it's really a sign of a growl for somebody who needs to begin to consume spiritual appetite and get a hunger for God that changes our attitude, that opens our eyes to the bigger things, not just devouring one another.
I'm praying that somebody will hear me preaching that will say, "I cannot have another year like I had. I cannot sit in this addiction for another 12 months. I refuse to live like this again. Something's gotta give, I'm desperate, and I've got a hunger for God that only God can fix and God can fulfill and God can do in my family and in my home". The Bible said in Lamentations 4:9: "To be slain with the sword is better than to be slain with hunger". One translation said: "It's better to go down fighting than to sit there and die". For good or bad, hunger drives you.
Esau came home from a hunting trip in the Bible, and the Bible said he was so hungry that he was almost home, but his brother, Jacob, came out and he said, "Listen, I'll offer you a bowl of beans," spiritual hunger, "But I'll offer you a bowl of beans if you'll give me the birthright". And in a moment of weakness, because he did not feed the hunger for God, he tried to put carnal things in for the hunger of God, and that's why fasting is so important, that's why it's not for people all around you, but it's not for you. This is for you, sir. This is for you, dad. This is for you, business person. This is for you, college student. This is for you.
God says, "There are things that hunger will take you to that you will never reach until you hunger for Me, because I have it all. I am the one who lifts one up and pulls another down. I am the one," and you know what He promised in Matthew 5? "They that hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be filled". The Bible said that Esau lost his birthright, because he fed that real hunger with donkey's heads, so-to-speak, and dove's dung, instead of a hunger for God.
I close with this. What got the prodigal son out of the pig pen? What made him come back home to the father? What was it? It wasn't the smell or the stench. It wasn't the disappointment of the friends who abandoned him after he had spent all of his money. It wasn't the filth that he was living in. None of those things got him on the path back to the father's house. It was one thing that brought him back to the father. In Luke 15:17, he asked a question. "How many of my father's servants have bread enough to spare," listen: "And I perish with hunger"?
The thing that drove the prodigal son up and out of the pig pen and the filth, back to the beauty and the love and the grace of the father's house, he said it himself. "I am hungry". It's hunger that will cause prodigal sons and daughters, when somebody is fasting for them, hunger will wake them up in the pig pen. Hunger will wake them up in their addictions. Hunger will wake up the backslider, and if they won't fast for themselves, when we begin to fast, when we begin to pray for our families, for our sons, for our daughters, when we do that, God says, "I will use hunger as the force that drives and pushes them on to the path back to the father's house". When nothing else works, pleading and trouble with the law and all kinds of things, and all kinds of ramifications of that life, when nothing else works, Jesus put it like this in Mark 9: "This kind cometh not out but by fasting and prayer".
There's some of our family members, our friends, our associates, people that you work with, people that you do life with, and they're lost, and they're on their way to hell, and the only thing that's gonna get 'em out of the muck and the mire, and on the path back to the Father's house, is hunger. And fasting is hungering for God, and when a church, with thousands and thousands of people here and the internet and at all of our campuses, comes together and my stomach's growling at 1 AM, but your stomach is growling at 2 AM, and somebody else that has a growl going on, and it's like a total irritant to the devil and demons, and the scripture said, "This kind of spirit will only loose and release its grip on people when people are fasting and pray".