Once, when I had just come out of a season of heavy food fasts, I sensed the Lord was saying to me, “Steve, I love your heart to separate yourself to me and we certainly have good times together, but your food fasts are not doing much good. The positive of your food fast plus the negative of your overall negativity and pessimism equals a big zero. I have a suggestion for you: Why don’t you go on a forty-day negativity fast and see what happens.” This was an important moment, but before I go on, let me share a little more background information.
In the first fifteen years of following Jesus I was in a fasting culture. We regularly fasted food to deepen our intimacy with God, to see breakthrough in important situations, and to hear the voice of the Lord clearer. This type of fasting is biblical and can have powerful effects, but it can also be spiritually unhealthy if we use fasting as a main method to make ourselves more worthy for God to move on our behalf. This is what happened to me.
“The truth will make you free” (John 8:32). If we believe truth, we get free. If we believe lies, we are not free. We first get free in our emotions, and then in our circumstances. The kingdom of God is primarily moved forward by what we believe, not what we do
“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Transformation does not come primarily by sacrificing our time, money, food, or dreams, but it comes by sacrificing our beliefs.” Certainly surrendering everything (our heart and will) to God Is important, but we must also defeat Satan’s lies that tell us it is never enough for God to be pleased with us or to use us. At some point, we need to believe what Jesus did was enough.
So I started doing negativity fasts. During these times I would purpose not to say anything or think anything that did not have hope attached to it. (Hope is one of the main evidences we are believing truth instead of lies – see Romans 15:13).
Whew, in the beginning this fasting negativity was more challenging than food fasts. The attention I was placing on my faulty thinking and speaking patterns was making me aware of how many lies I was still believing. I found myself still thinking and saying non-positive things, but it was much less. I became excited at my progress and through the years this negativity fast has become a much more permanent part of my lifestyle.
Let me describe a negativity fast more by telling you what it is and what it is not.
What a negativity fast is not:
It is not denying that problems exist
It is not critical of others who may be struggling in their beliefs
It is not ignoring things that need to be done
What a negativity fast is:
It is determining to focus more on God’s promises than problems
It is learning to speak with hope in even the toughest of issues
It is becoming solution-focused rather than problem-focused
It is refraining from reacting and giving voice to pessimism, criticism of others, self-criticism, and other forms of unbelief
It is speaking about problems to the right people in the right way
It is replacing negative words and thoughts with positive words and thoughts based on God’s promises, the finished work of Christ, and our biblical identity.
Our ministry, Igniting Hope, has been offering negativity fasts for years during the Lent season preceding Easter. Each year we have thousands participate in one of our three levels. We have modified the name to Negativity Fast and Positivity Feast because we must replace the lie with truth for this event to have its most powerful effect. This year’s fast/feast starts on February 17. We would love for you to join us if you felt this was something that would benefit you now.
Here is a quick description of the three levels of our fast and feast:
Level 1 (Free) – you get a daily teaching email with a lie to fast and a truth to feast on
Level 2 ($35) – you get level one’s email, a daily podcast, a PDF of the book Igniting Faith in 40 days, video content and more
Level 3 ($180) – all of levels one and two, plus three online sessions with an Igniting Hope Beliefs Trainer (we also have a special Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry student package with 2 sessions available for $99)
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.