We live in a culture of instant gratification. I want I get. I need so I take. The concept of fasting seems alien and outdated in 2021. So why as a Christian should I fast? Go without food for spiritual purposes.
There are 3 primary reasons why it is good to fast for seasons in our lives
- Humble ourselves
- Show that our superior satisfaction is in God
- There is a spiritual power for breakthrough in fasting
Any time you commit to fasting a battle is going on – who is the master? You or your stomach?
Biblical examples of fasting are many
Leviticus 16:29-31 – Yom Kipper the most holy day for Jews was a time when all the Israelites would ‘deny yourselves’ v29 to cleanse Israel of all it’s sins for that year. At the end of 1 Samuel 31:13 a book characterized by decline, defeat and division the men of Jabesh Gilead bury the past and fast for 7 days – the turning point to 2 Samuel a book of recovery and victory. In Jonah 3:4-5 the whole city repents and fasts for 40 days and this results in Ninevah being saved!
At the beginning of Jesus public ministry in Luke 4:1-2 Jesus ‘full of the Holy Spirit’ fasts for 40 days and then in v14 comes out of the wilderness ‘in the power of the Holy Spirit’ In the sermon on the mount Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus says ‘when (not if) you fast’ v16. In Acts 13:1-3 one of the key moments in the expansion of the early Church where they sent out missionaries they took time to ‘fast and pray’ in order to know God’s leading and to equip and empower Saul and Barnabus.
2 challenges for each of us about fasting:
- Fasting is an act of worship
As Christians when we fast we are saying ‘we want God more than anything else the world has to offer’. John Piper in Hunger for God said ‘the greatest enemy to hunger for God is not poison but apple pie’ – in other words, good gifts/things that replace our appetite for God Himself. Everything and anything can be a substitute for God in our lives. Fasting tests what desires control us and reveals what is inside of us. When we pray and fast we are choosing Jesus as our ‘bread of life’ and everything we need for our existence.
It is important to state that fasting is not about earning God’s love. Jesus died on the cross for our sins and there is nothing we can do to add to what Jesus has accomplished on the cross. No amount of fasting will get you to heaven!
- Fasting can achieve breakthrough
Fasting demonstrates that you are serious about wanting to see a breakthrough. Scripture clearly tells us that if we want a breakthrough it is often through ‘prayer and fasting Mark 9:29. It is not that fasting is an escape plan to get you out of your problem. Often fasting gives you power to go through with the mission that God has called you to. Jesus fasted for 40 days before he began his public ministry for the next 3 years. If you are facing trials and difficulties at the start of this year don’t run away and give up rather fast, pray and endure to see breakthrough!
‘We don’t fast to earn something, we fast to make a connection with our supernatural God. We are cleaning out the pipes that connect us to the anointing of God’ Mahesh Chavda
- Start small – fast from breakfast or lunch
- Use the time to pray e.g. go for a walk at lunchtime and pray
- Record all that happens and what God speaks to you when you fast. God often speaks clearly in visions, dreams, prophetic words when we fast
- It won’t be easy and will be a battle at times!
At the start of 2021 choose to fast – to re-set your priorities and choose Jesus in a very real and tangible way. If you are seeking breakthrough in your life in general or for a specific issue choose to fast – things will start to happen when you demonstrate your reliance on God through fasting!
Written by Mark Waterfield.