Over the last few weeks, quite a few people asked me for my opinion on fasting. Fasting is generally perceived to abstain from eating for some religious reason. Some of the people that spoke to me didn’t know why one should fast. Some didn’t think fasting is applicable at all today anymore.
Let’s first look at some examples of fasting in the Old Testament of the Bible.
Fasting is a way of petitioning God:
Hanna, Samuel’s mother, prayed and fasted before God as she could not conceive. The Bible says that God heard her prayer and gave her a son (1 Samuel 1).
Fasting is a way of mourning:
David mourned the death of Abner by fasting (2 Samuel 3).
Fasting is a way of seeking the favour of God:
King Jehosaphat called for a whole day of fasting by the entire nation when they were threatened by the Moabites and Ammonites. God instructed him to send the worshippers out before the soldiers and they enjoyed victory (2 Chronicles 20).
Now for the New Testament.
Fasting is a way to obtain divine knowledge and guidance:
Anna was a prophetess that fasted regularly and prayed in the temple everyday. She recognised Jesus as the Messiah when he was brought to the temple for circumcision (Luke 2).
What was the opinion of Jesus regarding fasting?
In the teaching Jesus gave on the mountain, He identified the four foundations of the Christian Religion, namely: giving, prayer, fasting and faith (Matthew 6).
Jesus Himself fasted for forty days (Luke 4). After the fast, He returned to Galilee full of the Holy Spirit and news about Him spread fast.
Fasting precedes a new ministry or calling:
Paul’s ministry started with fasting and praying (Acts 9).
Fast is part of the Christian faith:
The early church fasted regularly (Acts 13) and it was part of the teaching to new believers (Acts 14).
Why do we fast today?
If you are desperate for a breakthrough in some area of your life, consider fasting and praying. Fasting is a serious act petitioning God and it should not be taken lightly. In ideal circumstances, fasting should be done in isolation when you can meditate on the Word and pray continually, but that is not always possible. Don’t use that as an excuse not to fast. You can still fast and continue with your daily business. Fasting makes you extremely sensitive to the voice of Holy Spirit. He will minister to you even while you are at work.
If you are desperate for a deeper relationship with God – fasting is the answer. Fasting is showing God that you are serious and desperate to seek His face.
How do we fast today?
In some of the Biblical examples above, fasting meant not eating anything. We do however have another example in Daniel 1:11. Daniel refused to eat anything but vegetables and only drank water. God honoured him too. For people with low blood sugar, this is a safe way to go. We call it a Daniel Fast. There are many other ways of a partial fast such as the Daniel Fast. What do you really love? Coffee? Give it up for a month while you are seeking the face of God. Do you have a sweet tooth? Do you like certain soda drinks? Whatever it is, show God that you love Him more than those items. What counts here is your heart. If you hope to lose weight, your motive is wrong. Make sure your heart it right before you start.
Fasting in my opinion, could also be done in other ways too. For example, fast from your TV for a certain period and spend the time you would have spent in front of the TV studying the Word and praying. Give up that game of golf for a time with the Lord for a few weeks in a row.
If you don’t know what you should fast on or how you should fast – ask God to tell you. You will feel in your heart what you should give up to get more of Him. It’s the same with how long you should fast. You will know when it’s time to stop – Holy Spirit will tell you. Believe me, it’s worth it.
How desperate are you?