Why Fasting and Prayer Cannot Resolve the Issue of Desolation in the Church
By Zheng Xin
Over these last few years, in order to rejuvenate the church and bolster her brothers’ and sisters’ faith as well as her own, Lin Ke has fasted and prayed so many times that she has lost count. Despite all this she hasn’t been able to feel the Lord’s presence and guidance this entire time. She did not understand why God was not listening to her prayers—could it be that she wasn’t devout enough in her fasting and?
Lin Ke was sitting in a lakeside pavilion staring blankly into space, perplexed over this issue of fasting and prayer when her coworker Xiao Jing shouted at her twice before she finally heard it.
In response to the concerns that Xiao Jing expressed, Lin Ke could not help but smile and say, “These last few years, the situation in my church has continued to deteriorate, and I myself am very weak. This last time, I fasted and prayed for four days! In spite of this there hasn’t been any improvement in our situation, and this entire time I’ve been unable to feel God’s presence. I am wondering if I’m not devout enough in my fasting, or if the Lord is testing my faith? My heart is currently very weak. I am truly indebted to the Lord!”
Xiao Jing replied: “Lin Ke, have you ever wondered why, even though we fast and pray and sincerely ask God to rejuvenate the church, God does not listen? In fact, there isto be sought! We all know God is faithful, and as long as we pray in accordance with God’s will and fulfill God’s decrees, God will listen. However, the prerequisite is that we must pray in accordance with the Lord’s will. Otherwise, regardless of how we fast and pray, even if our attitude is very sincere and no matter how much we suffer, God will not listen. The current desolation in the church is not just occurring in one or two churches. Instead, this is really commonplace across the entire religious world. This indicates that God’s will is within this. What lies right before us is to seek and gain clarity on the root of the church’s desolation. What is God’s will? If we do not answer these questions, even if we never stop fasting and praying, we won’t be able to resolve this issue and we will end up starving ourselves!”
Lin Ke asked, perplexed, “How should we seek God’s will regarding the desolation of the church?”
Xiao Jing replied, “As for that, while I was reading the Bible, I found the following scripture: ‘And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold’ (Matthew 24:12). ‘Behold, the days come, said the Lord Jehovah, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Jehovah’ (Amos 8:11). ‘And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have you not returned to me, said Jehovah. And also I have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city: one piece was rained on, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered’ (Amos 4:6-7). Today, incidents of lawlessness such as theft and adultery are increasing all the time. Even pastors, elders and famous preachers cannot keep the commandments. All they do is preach about Biblical knowledge in order to exalt themselves. They bear witness to themselves so that the brothers and sisters will worship them—they remotely exalt or bear witness to God. They pretend to serve God but in reality, they are simply wielding their authority over our brothers and sisters. They deviated from the Lord’s way a long time ago and they have been spurned by God. With such people serving God, how could the church not become desolate? On top of that, we are in the last days. This is the crucial time during which the Lord will return. It is possible that God has once again done new work, that the Holy Spirit’s work has shifted, and it is only because we have not followed God’s footsteps that we have been left in the dark. This is similar to the last phase of the Age of Law. The leaders of Judaism did not follow Jehovah’s laws and they lacked hearts of reverence for God. All they did was adhere to what had been passed down by man; they even abandoned God’s commandments and completely strayed from God’s way. They turned the temple into a ‘den of thieves’ where they bought and sold livestock and exchanged money. As a result, the temple gradually became desolate. This was the main reason the temple lost the work of the Holy Spirit. What’s more, Jesus came to do new work. The people of that time had to leave the temple and receive Jesus’ work in order to reattain the Holy Spirit’s work and enjoy the peace, joy and sweetness of the Holy Spirit’s work.”
In amazement, Lin Ke said, “What you are saying is that the current desolation of the church is just like what happened in the final phases of the Age of Law. Since the pastors and elders deviated from the Lord’s way, God had long before spurned them and they had lost the Holy Spirit’s work. And, is it possible that God has already come back to do new work?”
Xiao Jing said, “Mmm, yes. This is entirely possible. We are all well aware of the current situation of the church. Just like how our brothers and sisters just leisurely chat with each other: At the podium, the pastor’s sermons are always the same old stuff; off stage, the believers gossip nonstop. The young people are constantly checking their watches and the old snore as they doze off. Gatherings are scheduled at 7 P.M., yet people end up coming at 8 P.M. By 9 P.M., there are still people arriving and once the gathering is over, they run off as quickly as they can. If the Holy Spirit were still at work within the church, would this sort of situation occur? The pastors and the elders are walking the path of the Pharisees—they are leading the brothers and sisters upon the path of resisting God. In the end, they will be cast aside and eliminated by God. If God does not do His work, no matter how we fast and pray, it will all be to no avail!”
Saying all this, Xiao Jing opened up her tablet and read the following: “‘God will accomplish this fact: He will make all people throughout the universe come before Him, and worship the God on earth, and His work in other places will cease, and people will be forced to seek the true way. It will be like Joseph: Everyone came to him for food, and bowed down to him, for he had things to eat. In order to avoid famine people will be forced to seek the true way. The entire religious community is suffering severe famine, and only the God of today is the wellspring of living water, possessed of the ever-flowing wellspring provided for the enjoyment of man, and people will come and depend on Him’ (‘The Millennial Kingdom Has Arrived’). From this passage we can clearly see that there is a kind of famine with the religious world right now. God’s will is that we proactively seek God’s current words and work. From there, we will find the source of the living water and only in this way will we be able to attain the Holy Spirit’s work. We are currently in the midst of the drought spoken of in the prophecies. Our urgent task right now is to find the church that has the Holy Spirit’s work, otherwise, if we continue being passive, we will truly wither and die!”
Lin Ke sighed and said, “Hhmm, what you are saying is in accordance with the Bible. This reminds me of the passage in the Book of Revelations that says, ‘These are they which follow the Lamb wherever he goes’ (Revelation 14:4). It seems that the church’s desolation in fact contains God’s will within. Presently, in the outside world, things are restless and unstable. Disasters are increasingly prevalent and there are signs everywhere one looks. The prophecy of the coming of the Lord has been fulfilled. If this is the case, the priority should be to proactively seek and investigate the church that has the Holy Spirit’s work. However, just how do we seek the lamb’s footsteps?”
Xiao Jing replied, “Do you remember this passage from the Book of Revelations? ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the middle of the paradise of God’ (Revelation 2:7). ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come’ (John 16:12-13). From these passages, we can see that in the end, when the Lord returns, He will speak to the churches and tell us all the truths for us to attain salvation and help us break free from corruption. He will also reveal all the mysteries, prophecies as well as the outcome and final destination of the human race. We must seek God’s footsteps and welcome the Lord’s return. We must look for the place where the Holy Spirit’s newest words are and keep up with God’s work of the last days. Only then will we enjoy the nourishment of the truths that God expresses in the last days. This is how the root cause of the church’s desolation will be resolved!”
Lin Ke said happily: “Oh! I’ve been reading the Bible for most of my life. How is it that I never saw this mystery in it? As it turns out, God told us a long time ago that when He returns, He will express even more truths for our sustenance. Doesn’t this fulfill the following prophecy that is written in the Book of Revelation? ‘They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the middle of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them to living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes’ (Revelation 7:16-17)? It seems that only the water from the river of life that flows out from the throne will entirely resolve the church’s desolation. Our spiritual hunger cannot be resolved through prayer and fasting. Thank the Lord!
Lin Ke finally found the way to resolve her quandary. Those days are finally over. The twilight shined on her body and everything looked beautiful.