As Christians all over the world continue to observe the Lenten season which began some few weeks ago, the Spiritual Director of Adoration Ministry Enugu Nigeria gives an extensive teaching and reflections on how to the season should be observed in prayer, fasting and almsgiving. This reflections brings to limelight the silent issues of our spirituality that we often take of granted more as it reveals some secrets, dos and don’ts during the Lenten observances. This is an uncommon potent spiritual pill for all Christians that want to build up their spiritual lives. EXCERPTS
“In this Lenten season, we have come with our body soul, and spirit, laying ourselves bare before you, O Lord, basking our lives under the rays of your supernatural power, praying for transfiguration and transformation, praying for renewal, revival and your divine touch.
“Touch us Lord in this season of lent. We pray that this season will be a season of Galatians 2:19. It is a season we shall be crucified with Jesus and we want to be crucified with Him. It is a season of crucification, a suffering season for the church. The militant church is suffering with Jesus in this season. In Gal 2:20, the life we live now is no longer us living but Jesus living in us.
“Jesus, please live in us, suffer in us, die in us and resurrect in us that we may die with you and resurrect with you , for you are the Lord forever and ever.
“Father, heal your people in this Lenten season. Please Lord; heal your people by the wounds of your son, Jesus. We claim divine healing for the sick, that sicknesses of all kinds be vanished from our life. We are in the season with your suffering Jesus, your suffering son, your wounded son, that all the wounds on his body of 1st Peter 2:24 will bring healing to us. By your wounds o lord mentioned in Matthew 8:17 bring healing to us. May your healing power be our portion. May this season of lent be a season you will heal our diseases, carry our infirmities and even the chastisement that made us whole will be upon you, and by your wounds we are healed in Isaiah 53:4-5.
“This Lenten season is healing season, season of salvation to humanity, a season of liberation and a season of upliftment; a season of cleansing unto humanity, a season of goodness unto humanity. This is a season of grace and mercy. Grace and mercy shall follow all the children of God as in Wisdom 19:22. May this season be a blessed season, a season of favor unto the children of God, a season of mercy unto us in Jesus name.
WHAT IS ENJOYABLE ABOUT LENT
“We worship the Lord who, out of his goodwill and love, brought us into a new season. Thank you Jesus. We are alive to enjoy another Lenten season. One may ask, is anything enjoyable about Lenten season? What do we enjoy in lent? How can I say we are enjoying in this season; a season of suffering and sacrifice.
Nowadays, when we mention suffering, people get scared. Whether we like it or not, Lenten season is a suffering season. No matter how you want to interpret it. But it is a suffering that brings joy. So those who are worried that I said, ‘I am going to suffer’, I am reechoing it again. Catholic Church believes in salvation through suffering and that is why lent is a season that is a blessings to those who are authentic Christians. It is a season we shed off our old lives. It is a season of dying and raising which ipso facto, means suffering. Nowadays, people dread the word suffering. We only love the word prosperity. Since I said I am going to suffer, papers have been writing, people have been worried and criticizing why I should mention suffering. And I am not withdrawing my word. I am going to suffer, I am already suffering.
“So if your life is a life of Christ, it is not every day Christmas. There must be a Lenten season, and Lenten season means a suffering season. Every human being has a time he or she suffers but I am blessing your suffering. It is a holy suffering, a salvific suffering which shall produce good things. Before every seed grows, it must be planted in the ground and it must die, else it will never germinate. So, this is a season of our dying with Christ to rise with him.
PEOPLE OF FORTY DAYS
“So get ready to suffer with Jesus. On your marks, get ready and go on with these forty days of race in the lent. What are you waiting for? Warm up. You are racers in the Lord. You are going to win the prize. Are you ready to win the prize? Start the race today if you have not and there shall be no stopping until forty days. Forty days, Nineveh will fall. That was the prophesy of Jonah. In these forty days something is going to happen. The kingdom of darkness is going to suffer wahala through our fasting, through our prayers, through our almsgiving.
“In this season, ever heavy weight will be reduced; we are going to burn fats and reduce in size. Pot bellies are going to be deflated in these forty days. We shall know the champions. Moses did his own forty days of prayers and fasting. At the end, commandment was given to him. Jesus did his own forty days and night. We are people of the forty days.
“We announce a commencement of a divine race in the history of Christendom. Lent has been a fruitful season because that is a time children of God will know that we are visitors on earth and will leave the earth. We are pilgrims. We came to this earth from somewhere and we are passing through to our homes. It is akin to the way the Adoration Ministry passed through GTC to GRA and from GRA, we moved to this our Adoration Permanent site at Umuchigbo. We are pilgrims.
SECRETS OF FASTING
“I pray for the strength for fasting in these forty days. The Bible says, “When you fast”. The Bible didn’t say “If you fast”. So, fast as much as you can but don’t kill yourself with fasting. When you fast until you get tired, stop and rest and then, continue again. You must suffer your flesh, because the flesh is weak. It will begin to tell you that you cannot do this. But I tell you, you can do it. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me”. Tell yourself you can do it. You can fast. Don’t say you cannot. Say you can do all things in Him who strengthens you. There are people who are the “I cannot” but there are those who are “the I cans”. If you say you can, you can. In Joel 3:10, it says; ‘Let the weak say I am strong’. Let your will power be reenergized in Jesus name. Make up your mind that you can and you will. Onye kwe Chi ya ekwe. God will energize you and recharge you and you will begin to see yourself doing the fasting. You won’t even know how. Make up your mind; key into the fasting.
“When you fast, don’t do it like the Pharisees who would begin to tell everybody “I am fasting ooo”. When you go to work, you would be telling everybody: “don’t you know I am fasting?” when the clock is about to tickle to 12noon, you would start walking around the office, telling everybody ‘aaa is it not yet 12noon? You know I will be closing my fasting by 12.’ No. That is not the way to fast.
“Jesus says: when you fast, “you rob ointment on your face”. Go and get that Vaseline ointment or palm Kernel ointment and rob it on your face so that your face will be shining and whoever sees you will not know that you are fasting. While it’s getting to 3pm you are still on fasting smiling. You shouldn’t stay in your yard biting everybody while you are fasting. There are some of you whom when you fast and would start to bite everyone in your yard, your neighbours would all know that you are fasting. When your neighbours greet you, ‘good morning’, you would ignore them. When they greet you again, you would retort to them: “Ehh, what is it?” When children play around or anybody in the yard talks loud you would flare up, ‘who are those people making noise? Don’t you know that we are fasting today?’
“No! When you are fasting, bathe up yourself with good soap and water. Use a good toothpaste and brush to clean your teeth and tongue. The day of your fasting is not the day you are meant to be smelling and emitting odours . When the people around you complain of your odour you would retort them ‘don’t you know that we are fasting?’ Cleanliness is next to Godliness. So you have to clean up, wash, bath. Even when you are about to close your fasting, you can take another bathe and freshen yourself. The Heavens will be ticking good for your fasting and your angel will use the fasting to do marvels.
HOW NOT TO FAST
“There is power in fasting. There is what we call Lenten fast. During fasting, that thing that you are supposed to eat or you are meant to eat , you have to bring it out for charity. There is a kind of fasting we used to do during our secondary school days. In the morning we would keep the pap and beans we were meant to eat by the side. In the afternoon, we would keep aside the garri and egusi soup we were meant to eat by that time. Then in the evening when we would be closing the fasting we would bring our rice and beans and keep by the side and then go and bring the pap and beans and the garri that we had kept all along . We would then close the fasting by starting with the pap and beans, download the afternoon garri and egusi and wrap it up with the night rice and beans. After this we would all begin to have constipation.
“Early in the morning the next day, you would see us line up at the toilet. This is not the way to fast. That one is carrying over fasting. The way to fast is this, in the morning, that thing that you are meant to eat or the money you meant to us and buy it, bring it out and give it out to someone you are better than. There must always be somebody you are better than. God created that person you are better than so that you can help him or her. Go and help out that person.
Fasting has power in the spiritual. Even occult people cannot do serious attack without fasting. Even serious native doctors cannot function effectively without fasting. Fasting is a spiritual exercise and it is geared towards holistic purgation of the inner and external self. When you fast, you uplift your spirit. Fasting has the power of degrading the flesh and upgrading the spirit.
“The Lenten season is a season the church goes into suffering. It is a time to suffer the flesh and purge the flesh. You don’t allow your eyes to see all it wants to see. You fast with your eyes. You fast with your eyes. You fast with your mouth; you mustn’t add your voice to every discussion that you come across. You will stay in Abuja and be narrating what is happening in Enugu just because you have got mouth and must talk. You mustn’t talk. When you go to salon, you will continue to talk and talk and take the place of a radio where there is none. Some will have their eyes fixed on TV and video from morning till night. They will watch African magic, Telemundo etc. Lenten season is a time you can use your eyes for something more positive. You can even close the eyes to begin to see in the spirit. Many of us cannot see in the spirit because we are distracted.
“Fasting is not only through food. You can fast in silence, in utter meditation and contemplation. This is pure spirituality, alone with God in the Blessed Sacrament having quiet time. Your fasting time must not be a time we are just going about hungry, you must make it a spiritual affair and use it to put yourself together.
“Like I said earlier, the Bible didn’t say, “if you fast” it says, “when you fast,” Jesus was able to conquer the devil through fasting. Remember, the highest fasting is fasting from sin. Instead of not eating but you will be sinning, eat but don’t sin. So this Lenten season should be for us a season of consecration, a season of staying alone with God of all holiness of Isaiah 6:3 and of Rev 4:8. For he says: ‘Be holy for I your God am holy.’
EXPOSING THE PLOY OF DEVIL TO PULL YOU DOWN
“It is a season you run away from sin in all its ramifications both venial and mortal. After these forty days we will emerge like eagles that shed off the old feathers. If it is your right hand that will cause you to sin, this is the season to cut it off. That person that you know that each time you stay together with, he or she will lead you into sin, flee from him or her during this forty days because the time you will die, he or she will not go into your grave with you. You came into this world alone and alone you shall go back. When we observe our lent very well, God will be glorified in us.
“In Matthew 17:20, the Bible says that this kind of demon cannot go out except by prayers and fasting. Most of the gifts you receive from the Holy Spirit cannot fly higher until you begin to fast. Fasting is like a fan on a fire wood when it is ignited. I have come to discover that many people, who cannot fast, cannot rise higher in the spiritual. And most of the time when you want to fast; the devil will use a friend or someone to discourage you. The person may come to you tell you ‘eee you are slimming down, are you healthy? Or is it the prayer making you look this way? Take it easy oo. I wouldn’t tell you not to pray but eat food’. When you listen to this type of person you would go and watch yourself in a mirror and see really that you are slimming down. That person that is telling you that you are slimming down, what is he or she doing with your fatness? Are you a pig? Shall you be slaughtered for the Easter or Christmas celebration?
“For People who have this gift of vision, gift of dreams and gift of trance, the only way these gifts can flow out is when you live a life of fasting. If Jesus could try it, then it is the best way of life.
WHAT YOU SHOULD FAST FROM
“During this fasting season, you may be drinking water. Water isn’t among what you should fast from. Again, when you are fasting and became pressed, you shouldn’t hold back the urine or refrain from going to toilet to defecate and you say you are fasting from such. Otherwise, the gas you will be releasing would smell to such a measure that God really has to have mercy on you.
POWER IN FASTING
“Anybody who will observe the Lenten season very well must emerge with testimonies. Moses fasted, Elijah fasted, Elisha fasted, there has never been a great man in the annals of biblical history that made it without fasting. None, All of them were champions through fasting. The flesh must go down for the spirit to go up. Two of them fight against each other. Any time the flesh is up, the spirit is down and anytime the spirit is up, the flesh is down. So this is a season the church wants the spirit to go up so that the flesh can come down. Witches and wizards cannot attack you successfully during the time of serious fasting. It is war in the spirit. Remember, the Bible says in Ephesian 6:12 that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers. That is why in 2nd Cor 10:4ff; the Bible says that our weapons of warfare are not carnal but are spiritual and mighty unto God, to the pulling down of strongholds. They are spiritual and mighty.
“Fasting is like a jet-fighter. You can be on the ground shooting guns but when you fast, you go up and would be throwing down bombs from the invisible atmosphere. The enemies cannot withstand it. So if you have stopped fasting, start it again. Paul, Peter and co. were champions through serious fasting. During this time of fasting you should begin to develop hunger for God. You begin to have power over certain sins that had power over you. You will begin to prevail. There is a level you will fast to and when someone comes abusing you with words, you will just be looking at him or her. You wouldn’t have the strength to fight as the Might of God will be fighting for you. The Pentecost was successful because these people locked up themselves praying until the power came. There is power in fasting.
“I pray for the unction for fasting to come upon you such that even when you want to eat, God knows what He will do and you will refrain from eating. God will make you to fast. You will receive fasting as a gift. You wouldn’t even know how but you will see yourself not eating. When you want to end the fasting by 12noon, God will just make something to happen and you would extend it to 3pm. May be by 3pm, as you are planning to end, something will just suddenly happen again and you will fast till 6pm. In Zech 4:2ff the Bible says that we can do many things, not by our power; not by our might but by the Spirit of God.
FASTING AND HEALTH
“If you want to fast with your natural will-power, just give it a short time and you wouldn’t know how you will just be eating as occasion of food will be here and there. One sickness may emerge and they will tell you that before you take your drugs, you must eat first. So I praying that this period will be a season of health for you. Do you know that fasting can bring healing to the inner body? There are certain diseases that cannot develop in your body when you are fasting.
“So I encourage fasting, not just for spiritual value but even for health. If you want to be healthier, begin to fast and anybody who wants to sympathize with you during that time of fasting, do it like Jesus. When Jesus said He was going to suffer in Jerusalem, Peter said no and Jesus told him ‘Get behind me Satan’. It is a suffering season. Anybody who doesn’t want you to suffer in this season is a Satan and should get behind you. If Jesus could tell Peter, the pope of the Church, to get behind him Satan, what about you to your ordinary friend.
“Fasting has a spiritual reward. When we do not fast, we get sick. Even the cardio vascular organ and the brains develop well during fasting time. The entirety of the inner organs, the peptic and duodenal organs all receive healing during fasting. Even the ophthalmic system enjoys health during fasting.
“In Mathew 6:5, Jesus went on to say:“And when you pray”, not ‘if you pray’. Do not pray like the hypocrites. There are those who when they pray the whole world must hear that they are praying. They will announce it to everybody that they are going to chapel or when they return they must tell everybody they see that they are returning from chapel and that they prayed three decades. All we are going to do in this Lenten season should be in secret.
PROTECT YOUR SECRETS
“Many people do not know how to handle secrets. You are not owing anybody anything by disclosing what is between you and yourself let alone what is between you and your God. Must your other neighbour know what you are doing? What is wrong with God’s children? The social media has exposed us to a level of zero secrecy. One thing that ran through these three disciplines; fasting, prayer and giving is that you must do them in secret. Many of us do not have secrets again. Protect your secret. That person whom you think is your friend today, can be your enemy tomorrow and when he becomes your enemy, what will happen to your secrets that you have deposited on him or her? There are secrets you must die with. Be a bank that secrets are deposited.
“When you pray, pray in secret. Do you think that you cannot pray in tongues without shouting it? You can be praying in tongues inside you. People can see your mouth moving without knowing what you are doing inside. Your mouth may not even move at all. Mighty oceans do not make much noise. It would always remain still. It is empty vessels that make much noise. Must you talk?
“That kind of prayer decorum we were trained with when we were kids to pull yourself together when you are praying is almost evaporating. Now we just recite prayers with no mediation. You would see someone praying and answering calls “Helo helo, call me later, we are praying’ and another call would come in and he would pick it saying “Agnes, I will call you back, we are closing our fasting with prayers”.
“The Bible says: ‘pray in secret’. During prayer time, all phones should be turned off but if there is need for you not to do that, may be because you were expecting a serious call, you can put it in silence. If you have the need to respond to a call, may be because you are a woman in the church and you have the key to your house, expecting your husband may come home or you are the person holding the key to the whole yard, you mustn’t punish everybody because you are praying. You can quietly tell the person, I am coming. You mustn’t announce that you are praying. Protect your prayer secrets. Let the other people not even know what you are doing.
DEVIL’S TACTICS IN DURING PRAYER
“Through prayer we prevail. A prayer is a winner. When you stop praying, you will stop winning. The secrets of victories in the spirt are in prayer. When the devil want to conquer the people of God and a particular generation, it will begin to deflate their prayer powers.
“Procrastination would come in. They would say I will pray in the night. By night they would say ‘I will pray in the morning. In the morning, you will rush to work and say that when you come back, you will pray. And once you do it like seven times, it will become a habit. Anything you can do repeatedly seven times psychologically becomes a habit. So don’t procrastinate prayer. Pray it. Anytime hunger for prayer comes, start it, don’t say you will pray later. No, there is nothing to wait for; start it now. It was procrastination that made a toad not to have tail.