what is fasting?
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that is taught in the Bible. Jesus expected his followers to fast, and He said that God rewards fasting. Fasting, according to the Bible, means to voluntarily reduce your intake of food for a specific time ad purpose.
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:16-18)
There are many good reasons, and even health benefits, for fasting. However, there are three primary reasons for doing so:
1. Fasting gives you more time for prayer. You can use the time you’d normally spend eating as time in prayer for what God wants to do among us during this time. In the Bible, fasting is always connected with prayer:
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So, after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:2-3, NIV)
2. Fasting releases God’s supernatural power. It is a tool we can use when there is opposition to God’s will. Satan would like nothing better than to cause division, discouragement, defeat, depression, and doubt among us. United prayer and fasting has always been used by God to deal a decisive blow to the enemy!
”So we fasted and prayed about these concerns. And He listened.” (Ezra 8:23, The Message)
“God says, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6, NIV)
3. Fasting demonstrates the depth of your desire when praying for something. It shows you that you are serious enough about your prayer request to pay a personal price. God honours deep desire and praying in faith.
“Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord you God and cry out to the Lord.” (Joel 1:14, NIV)
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” (Joel 2:12 NASB)
the importance of fasting
Often in the Bible, God’s people fasted immediately before a major victory, miracle, or answer to prayer. It prepared them for a blessing!
Moses fasted before he received the Ten Commandments. “Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant–the Ten Commandments.” Exodus 34:28 (NIV)
The Israelites fasted before a miraculous victory.
“Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.” 2 Chronicles 20:2-3 (NIV)
Daniel fasted in order to receive guidance from God.
“So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel 9:3 (NIV) “While I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, ‘Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding.'” Daniel 9:21-22 (NIV)
Nehemiah fasted before beginning a major building project.
“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4 (NIV)
Jesus fasted during His victory over temptation.
“For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry.” Luke 4:2 (Msg)
Remember that fasting is not “earning” an answer to prayer. God cannot be blackmailed by human effort. God wants to answer our prayers and He answers out of grace. Fasting simply prepares us for God’s answer.
Fast only if your health allows it at that time. If you are able to do only a partial fast – do it in faith and God will honour your intentions.