Energize your Life with Fasting
Spiritual disciplines energize us and draw us closer to Jesus. Fasting is one of those disciplines that energized and empowered Jesus’ life – and will energize ours as well. Biblical fasting is always centered on biblical purposes – and is almost always linked to prayer. It is an incredible way to enhance our prayer life and focus on God.
1: What is fasting?
- Fasting is voluntarily going without food (or other things) for a period of time, and for spiritual purposes.
- It is not a diet or hunger strike.
- In Matthew 4, Jesus had just been baptized and, before starting his earthly ministry, he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. He knew he needed divine strength from the Father! This is significant to me for 3 reasons:
- It was prior to launching His public ministry.
- He had laid aside His supernatural power (Phil 2:7,8).
- He needed to overcome temptation.
2: Why should we fast?
- Fasting was taught by Jesus and expected of His followers (Matt 6:16-18; Matt 9:14-17).
- Fasting was practiced by Jesus – and He is our example (Matt 4:1-11).
- Besides Jesus, several Bible heroes such as Moses (Ex 34:28), Hannah (1 Sam 1), Esther (Esther 4:16), and David (Ps. 69:10) fasted.
- Fasting frees us and focuses our heart.
- It reveals how much our peace depends upon the pleasure of eating.
- It teaches temperance and self-control – and therefore teaches moderation and restraint to all our fundamental drives.
3: How should we fast?
- Length of time:
- 1 day (Judges 20:26), 3 days (Esther 4:16), 7 days (1 Sam 31:13), 21 days (“Daniel Fast:” Dan 10:2,3) or even 40 days (Deut 9:9; Matt 4:2).
- Intake during fast:
- Normal – Just drink: usually water.
- Partial – Some things may be eaten (Dan 10:3; 1:8-14).
- Absolute – Nothing to eat or drink (Esther 4:16).
- How to get started:
- Start with a day fast, then try a day and night (24 hours), and then attempt a 36-hour fast.
- Remember: the normal fast included the drinking of water.
- Consult your physician with any questions.
- Proper attitudes in biblical fasting:
- Remember that we are servants in His secret service. Do it privately (Matt 6:1; 6:5-6; 6:16-18).
- Remember that fasting must be accompanied by Christian conduct (Isaiah 58).
- Unite prayer with fasting. In virtually every biblical reference, prayer and fasting are inseparably united.
4: When should we fast?
- When we want to seek God’s will in a specific matter.
- Paul and Barnabas prayed and fasted when choosing and dedicating elders (Acts 14:23).
- When we want to repent of sin.
- David fasted and repented of his sin (2 Sam 12:15-16, 21-23).
- The people of Nineveh repented in fasting (Jonah 3:5).
- When we want to pray for the work of God.
- Nehemiah fasted over the condition of Jerusalem (Neh 1:4-11).
- When we want to invoke God’s protection and deliverance.
- All of Judah fasted for protection (2 Chron 20:1-4).
- Do you need to be delivered from bondage? Is there a fear or concern in your life from which you need to be released? Fast and pray!
- When we want to humble ourselves and worship the Lord.
- Anna served God through prayer and fasting (Luke 2:37).
- The Early Church fasted and worshipped (Acts 13:2-3).
- When we want to enhance earnest prayer.
- This is a common thread through each of the above. In times of national emergency, people would fast and pray (Jer 36:1-9; Joel 2:15).
5: A call to fast and pray:
- Join me on a 21 day voluntary fast. Commit for 21 days to seek the Lord more intensely through prayer and fasting. Let’s put our faith and prayer into overdrive – and practice the spiritual discipline of fasting.