Before social media, a global fasting movement was launched by Franklin Hall’s book, Atomic Power with God Through Fasting and Prayer. Lou Engle and I briefly recount the story in our book, The Jesus Fast, excerpted below:
“In 1946, a group of saints came together in San Diego from various denominations to hear the teachings of Jesus Christ’s gospel concerning prayer and fasting. Many of these Christians entered into consecration fasts…some of these fasts were from 21 to more than 60 days of continuous duration without food. They were burdened to see the Lord move in a special, spiritual way. These and many others wanted to see a worldwide revival for salvation and healing of mankind…The amazing results as these scores of Christians united in fasting and praying was stupendous.”
Note the date: 1946. A few months earlier, on August 6, 1945, the United States had employed a new weapon, a power of spectacular proportion never before seen in human history: the atomic bomb. Codenamed “Fat Man” and “Little Boy,” the bombs had leveled the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My point is not to argue the merits of nuclear power in military applications, or to minimize the suffering of those affected. It is simply this: Franklin Hall rightly perceived that a new metaphor had been found to describe the spiritual reality of fasting. As a matter of practice, fasting was hardly new in 1946. But combined with prayer on a massive corporate scale, this type of extended fasting has been extremely rare in church history.
Yet from those humble beginnings in San Diego, many across Los Angeles and southern California began to fast together. God breathed on the message. Suddenly, like wildfire, the call to extended fasting had spread into the American midwest, then north into Canada—all in the days before modern communications and social media. As the saints in San Diego had prayed, the Lord did move in what Hall called a “special, spiritual way.” Book orders came from around the world as small groups of believers in many different nations took up the call to fast and pray. Thousands of reports began to pour in.
The explosive quality of this relatively small movement disproportionately shook the earth, but this is the power of fasting! It is a far larger, spiritual reality that merely skipping food and praying. It is a weapon of divine proportions, sadly underutilized in the arsenal of the church.”
Digging Wells of Revival
Hall’s influence on the Latter Rain brethren was profound. At the time, they wrote, “The truth of fasting was one great, contributing factor to the revival…Previously, we had not understood the possibility of long fasts. The revival would have never been possible without the restoration of this great truth through our good brother Hall.”
“Much of the good of that movement continues to advance the Kingdom to this day. The Latter Rain lies at the roots of the modern day worship movement. It was also critical in catapulting the fledgling Pentecostal movement into a broader application by demonstration of mighty gifts of th
e spirit worldwide, setting the stage for the Charismatic and Jesus Movements yet to come. If Azusa restored tongues and unity (however briefly), the Latter Rain brought forth an understanding of dimensions of God’s glory and His manifested Presence. Prophetic revelation, along with the restoration of words of knowledge and words of wisdom, became part of a fresh influx of the Spirit of God by which countless ministries were positioned to equip future saints—ministries that continue with us to this day.
Shortly after Hall’s book was published, the tiny island of Jamaica became a case study in the atomic power of corporate fasting. Up to 9000 people were converted in a single revival. For some reason, Atomic Power had spread throughout the whole island so that scores and hundreds had been fasting and praying before the evangelist T. L. Osborne arrived. “In a single campaign…in Jamaica, as many as 125 deaf mutes, 90 totally blind” were healed and “hundreds of other other equally miraculous deliverances resulted.”
Jamaica wasn’t alone. In 1947, great healing revivals erupted through Oral Roberts, T. L. Osborne and Gordon Lindsey, to name a few. It was Lindsey, founder of Christ for the Nations, who wrote a book titled, Fasting: The Master Key to the Impossible.
“This mighty tide of fasting preceded and was a prelude to the major evangelistic healing campaigns that (began) stirring Christendom…in which hundreds and even thousands are converted in a single campaign.”
Osborne, who later won hundreds of thousands to Christ in massive crusades in Africa, wrote to Hall. He said this, “Our lives have been revolutionized by fasting and praying…(by) reading your books.”
Don’t lose the chronology here. Corporate fasting breaks out in 1946. Healing in 1947. The modern’s era’s most profound evangelistic ministries also followed: Bill Bright in 1948, Billy Graham’s tent revivals in 1949. Neither Bright nor Graham had any direct link to Hall’s fasting movement, but my contention is that corporate, extended fasting is a force for reproducing mighty, anointed sons. I believe this barely scratches the surface because we’ve never truly witnessed the full power of this atomic weapon called extended fasting and prayer.”
Discerning the Nowness of the Now
“When you are on a journey and see a signpost, you don’t stop and admire the sign. You take comfort and encouragement in the guidance it gives and the promise of where it is leading. It helps you know that you are on the right path, but the path is leading somewhere. You actually have a destination. What is the destination of history? Ergo, where are we on the path? If a Naziritic consecration movement has arisen in the land, and I believe it has, then what does Biblical history suggest will happen next?
In his book, I Am Your Sign, Sean Smith says, “All moments in history are not equal; some are epic in their significance. In these divine moments, God sovereignly reveals Himself and His purposes, releasing an invitation to rewrite corporate or personal history.”
Though we have previously looked at Joel 2, we must now draw it back into this storyline, because Joel 2 is a template for the last days. Take a moment to reread it, especially verses 15-29, where the prophet reveals at least five fruits that should be understand as the product of corporate (rather than private or personal) fasting:
- God will be zealous for His land (vs. 18)
- He will pour out the early and the latter rain (vs. 23)
- He will do this for the ripening and reaping of a bountiful harvest (vs. 24)
- To restore what has been stolen and destroyed (vs. 25)
- In the midst of a powerful outpouring of His Spirit in dreams and visions on all flesh (vs. 28-29)
This promise perpetually hangs in the air in response to corporate fasting. However, with the exception of the historic monastic tradition, no global fasting movement appears in church history for almost two thousand years. Something shifted with Hall’s book. I believe Heaven’s stopwatch started ticking. Atomic Power catalyzed a movement of corporate, global prayer and fasting at levels previously unknown. Deep in the bunkers of Heaven, the nuclear option of Joel 2 was put into play.
I challenge you to see yourself in the story, just as the early disciples saw themselves in the story of God at Pentecost. In the Upper Room, after the Holy Spirit had been poured out, the disciples recognized that they were actually living Joel’s prophecy. Though it had been hanging in the air, awaiting fulfillment, Peter’s exegesis of Scripture was that they were the fulfillment. They were experiencing Joel’s early rain.
Now fast forward, because that prophecy had two parts. What about the latter rain? In 1948 (in North Battleford, Canada), believers understood the times enough to realize that the global fast of Joel 2 had begun to bring forth the promised latter rain. At that point, Israel and the Church began to move in a synchronicity few have appreciated. In particular, pay attention to the Lord’s zeal for the restoration of the land. First, we all know the founding of the modern state of Israel, but we miss the timing of it in conjunction with the first global fast in nearly two thousand years. Is that a coincidence? No, it is a fulfillment of Joel 2!
The Latter Rain movement is a modern sign that the fasting movement inspired by Atomic Power is directly related to the timing of Israel becoming a nation in 1948, just as Joel 2 prophesied. History is in replay mode. Also, just as Jeremiah prophesied Judah’s captivity would last seventy years, after which the Jews would return to the land, we are approaching another seventy year cycle of restoration. Seventy, a significant, symbolic number in Scripture, is the governing number of eschatological history in the book of Daniel (Dan. 9:24). It is further suggested by many scholars to be the number of a generation as the span of a man’s life (Psa. 90:10).”
As this seventy year cycle comes full circle into our time, let us not fail to see our place in the story, to take our place, and to shape history with prayer and fasting.