Fasting was a very common practice in the Old Testament and of course, our Lord Jesus did the same. But for some reason, it is not much encouraged today and people seem to be very surprised with this subject of fasting. Often, I will come across someone who will raise their eyebrows on this subject of fasting and ask questions like, “So you don’t eat food at all? Like, at all?”
What does Jesus say about fasting?
Once the disciples of John came to Jesus and asked him this question, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’ Jesus replied to them in Mark 2: 19, 20 ‘How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and on that day they will fast.’ I believe that now is the time when the children of God, the bride that is the body of Christ must fast from time to time, denying the desires of the flesh. Read on to see what fasting accomplishes.
Fasting comes from humility in God’s presence: In the life of Ezra, we read in Chapter 8: 21 “There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions.” Fasting, throughout the Bible, is a time when you humble yourselves before God. Do not mistake fasting to be a hunger strike with God. Fasting is not to twist the hands of God to bless you.
Fasting comes from true repentance to God: Throughout the Bible, you will see that God had mercy on those who repented and fasted before God. Read Deuteronomy 9: 18, 19 to see the effects fasting had in the life of Moses. “Then once again I fell prostrate before the LORD for forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water, because of all the sin you had committed, doing what was evil in the LORD’s sight and so provoking him to anger. I feared the anger and wrath of the LORD, for he was angry enough with you to destroy you. But again the LORD listened to me.”
Fasting is a part of intercession: When the enemy planned to wipe off the Jews, it was Mordecai and Esther who joined hands to fast and intercede for their nation and God heard their cry. (Esther 4) When Nehemiah heard about Jerusalem’s walls broken down, the Bible says in Nehemiah 1:4 “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” We see the life of Daniel, 9: 3 “So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.” And the life of the disciples in Acts 14: 23 “Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.”
Fasting makes you spiritually sensitive to God: When we fast, away from the carnal desires of the flesh and the world, we become more sensitive to the spiritual things of God. It especially makes you more sensitive to the voice of God. It was while they worshipped God with fasting, that the Holy Spirit gave directions, read Acts 13: 2, “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.” Acts 10: 30 records how Corenlius was directed to call Peter to learn the truth God has stored for him.
So in simple words, Biblical fasting is refraining from food for a certain number of days which helps your spirit to break away from the cluttered things of this world and become amazingly sensitive to the things of God.
Is there a particular duration? Moses fasted 40 days when he received God’s law (Deut. 9:9). Joshua and the elders of Israel fasted for about 12 hours after Israel’s armies were defeated at Ai (Josh. 7:6). Esther fasted for 3 days without food or water. (Esther 4) The apostle Paul fasted 14 days while he was in peril (Acts 27:33-36). Jesus fasted, too – for 40 days before beginning His ministry (Matt. 4:2)
There is no real formula, but find out what the Spirit of the Lord wants you to do and make sure you are led by the Lord. If you are fasting, make sure you spend time in the presence of God and not running around with other work. “Fasting without prayer is called starving.” Make sure you combine your fasting with prayer and the Word
Kinds of Fasting
Esther Fast: When no food and water is taken. Strongly recommend you to hear from God before you try this. Speak to your church elders or leader and take proper guidance before you start.
Normal Fast: This is the kind of fast when you don’t eat any solid foods for a number of days. You do drink water and plenty of it. Depending on how God leads you, you may also choose to drink fresh juices.
Partial Fast: When you are fasting yet eat one or two meal as the Lord leads you to do.
Daniel Fast: In Daniel 1: 11-14, Daniel and his companions fasted from meat and ate vegetables only and drank water for 10days. People today use this to fast form of fasting to fast from something they are addicted to. E.g.: Meats, TV, Facebook, Mobile etc.
Make sure you drink a lot of water during these fasts, except the Esther fast. It is normal to feel sluggish or awake and hungry. I’ve heard some people state that when they fast, the devil gives them a bad headache. It is more likely that it’s simply their body getting rid of the toxins that have built over a period of time.
At times, you might feel as if you’re too weak to even pray. Don’t end up condemning yourself but just try and rest in God. Before long, you will see yourself being more sensitive to what God is doing. We have just one life and let’s give that to the Lord. In the scope of eternity with him what is one life to give up to Him.
I’d like to know: Have you fasted before? How does it work for you?