"Fasting is a funny thing. At first it seems like such outright self-punishment. But when the body adjusts, and when we build this phenomenal spiritual tool into our physiological memory, it becomes an amazing gateway to rediscover the wonders of knowing our God."
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"From day to day the word of God became more precious, more alive. Our devotion increased and a tenderness of heart set in. Tears were not unusual as the Spirit dealt with our hardness of heart and self-centeredness. Then He broke us with His burden for the lost, diseased, raped, oppressed, and the dying all around us."
 
 

AWAKENING
By Eitan Shishkoff

The Hebrew word for revival is "awakening." As a community, we recently set aside five days to fast and pray for spiritual awakening. Sensing a dryness of routine, longing for more of Messiah's resurrection life, feeling too distant from our fellow Israelis - the Tents of Mercy elders decided it was time take action.

Each day we gathered morning and evening to seek the face of God, to renew our passion for Yeshua. The experience of His presence was our reward. Cleansing, clarity, inspiration, heavenly perspective and a fresh burden for our neighbors - all of these came to us as we waited on the Lord (Isaiah 40:31). We began each session with praise and worship to fulfill our priestly calling to minister to the Lord, to bless Him day and night. Fittingly, the Torah portion that week pictured Israel's priests, washed, anointed and dressed in regal colors.

FASTING: PUNISHMENT OR GATEWAY?

Fasting is a funny thing. At first it seems like such outright self-punishment. But when the body adjusts, and when we build this phenomenal spiritual tool into our physiological memory, it becomes an amazing gateway to rediscover the wonders of knowing our God. In the Scriptures, corporate fasts released dramatic deliverance, repentance, revelation and revival in the times of Jehoshaphat, Jonah, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Paul and others. The prophet Joel, specifically addressing the end times, says "Consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God and cry out to the Lord...for the day of the Lord is at hand ... Let the priests who minister to the Lord weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say 'Spare your people, O Lord.'"

The prophet tells us not to fear, but to be glad and rejoice for the Lord has done marvelous things (2:21). He envisions a time of the Spirit being poured out and a bountiful harvest. And this is in the midst of the last days' shakings! I hear Joel telling us, that to prepare ourselves for the coming catastrophes and unprecedented opportunities we must gather together as God's people, offering ourselves to Him with fasting and prayer, worship and waiting. This is not to minimize humanitarian aid, discipling or evangelism. Those must continue to increase as we approach Yeshua's return. But the readying of our spirits requires this emptying of our own strength and receiving His When we fast there is literally less of us and more of Him.

REND THE HEAVENS!

From day to day the word of God became more precious, more alive. Our devotion increased and a tenderness of heart set in. Tears were not unusual as the Spirit dealt with our hardness of heart and self-centeredness. Then He broke us with His burden for the lost, diseased, raped, oppressed, and the dying all around us. Certain themes and areas of intercession gripped us. We are only beginning to learn the "dance" of the Lord. Slowing down to allow Him to impart more of His heart in a specific district of prayer. At other times the crescendo of spiritual warfare rises and He wants to catch us up in His fervor against the enemy - contending for those who are bound, clearing obstacles to genuine revival.

Rend the heavens and come down!" from Isaiah 64:1 was the cry of our heart heading into the five days. We called on the Lord to revive us (Habakkuk 3:2; Isaiah 57:15; Psalm 89:6-9). We interceded for healing in our families and especially for our men to take their places of compassionate spiritual leadership (out of this is coming a fresh season of ministry to men in our congregation). Raising up the next generation of Israeli disciples was another intercessory focus - to see our youth and young adults liberated to love and live for Yeshua whole-heartedly. Concerned for our brothers and sisters in Arad and Ashkelon, who are buffeted by persecution with public demonstrations against their Messianic faith, we brought them before the Throne of Grace. Though the earthquake and Tsunami had not yet hit Japan, the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Bahrain and Yemen were shaking with protesting citizens. We asked God for protection on the believers and freedom for the gospel in these insecure places.

CHALLENGES

This all sounds good, but there are challenges along the way. Though our congregation is a Hebrew-speaking assembly, we are multi-lingual congregation. In order to understand what someone is praying, their prayer must be translated into at least two other languages. This can make it mighty hard to keep a flow of anointed prayer going. We are also multi-generational. We took one night to incorporate the young people; they led the worship and prayer. But in order to hear their earnest prayers we had to ask the older folks to ease off and give the kids a chance. I sometimes think that corporate prayer is both the most difficult facet of spiritual community to pull off and the most rewarding.

There is nothing of "automatic pilot" in leading these meetings. It requires a discerning, Spirit-filled leader, capable of drawing out participation, staying on topic and coordinating with the worship team. I especially enjoyed sharing this duty with Avishalom, our local pastor and Andrey, our youth pastor. Meeting with God for the seemingly simple purpose of worship and prayer, harps and bowls, involves a battle for unity, Holy Spirit flow, relevance and hearing from God.

WE ARE HIS SONS AND DAUGHTERS!

On the last day of our fasting season, we were met by a stirring emphasis from the Lord. During the mornings and evenings of worship and prayer we had been drawn to the phenomenal truth that He has adopted us as His sons and daughters "who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:13) It felt as if we were discovering this most basic aspect of our relationship with the Father for the first time. We realized that it changes everything. If we are sons and daughters of the Ruler of the universe, what do we lack? What can we not accomplish when walking in His will? We need never be alone, rejected, fearful, defeated, robbed. In contrast to an "orphan spirit" that always expects to be exploited, passed by and left without - the spirit of adoption cries "Abba, Father...and if children, then heirs with Messiah" (Romans 8:15,17 [WOW!])

Twenty years ago Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro starred in a film called "Awakenings." It was based on a true story of a doctor who brought his patient out of a catatonic state. The patient awoke with such exquisite sensitivity to the beauty and the joys of life that he transformed those who met him. That is what God intends for us. He wants to awaken us to the intensely blessed state of our redemption in Messiah. Daily we have an opportunity, as the result of Yeshua's atoning agony on the cross and power over death, to live on a level of creativity, wisdom, authority over evil and pure love. Of course we fall short. Of course these ideals often seem beyond our condition. But we can ask the Lord for more of His life, for a cleansing from the filth of this world and for a fresh infilling from Heaven. These are all amplified when we fast, worship and pray with each other. It is His preparation for what is to come.

By Eitan Shishkoff
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Comments
Comments:
20:16 29Mar11 Susan St.Clair -
Beautifully worded ... absolutely beautiful!

21:22 29Mar11 Peter Kuskis -
The rewards of fasting are manifold; and they surely increase exponentially when fasting is practiced corporately! Given the situation in the Middle East, surely this is a biblical method of loosing God's purposes and power.

04:35 29Mar11 Miriam Maranzenboim -
Often our pastor Shmuel (Beit Eliahu, Haifa) allows for prayer from the floor at the end of the service. These prayers are not translated so most go either unheard or not understood. However, a couple of times at the end of the service we were in small groups according to language and I think that despite the "mess of chairs" it was truly more effective. We even prayed for the needs of the person next to us. I hope we'll do this more! Yes, by all means, we need to be fasting for the BREAKTHROUGHS!

16:30 30Mar11 Samuel Irvin -
The Holy Spirit has lead me to read about intercessory prayer for the past few weeks. What Eitan is saying here is an excellent summary of intercession. "Judgment begins in the house of God", so we must be cleansed first before we can pray for the Father to cleanse others. When we confess our sins, and ask for forgiveness and mercy for ourselves, then we can cry out on behalf of others.
Intercession is a funny thing'


Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Daniel Juster: Revolution in the Arab World
Marty Shoub: "I Have Heard The Groaning and I Have Remembered"
Asher Intrater: Law of Perspective
Andrew and Shani: Our Wedding