Fasting for the Christian is a voluntary abstinence from food and the desires of the flesh, either completely or partially, for a specified period of time in order to dedicate time to the spiritual development of our inner man. Fasting is endorsed not merely by the teachings of Jesus, but also by His personal example as evidenced in scripture; Matthew 16: 16-18; Mark 2:18-20; Luke 4:1, 2, 14. For fasting to be effective, it must be accompanied by a time of prayer and bible reading and study, or else it is just a “hunger strike”. In this day and age when the forces of evil abound and are working overtime to distract us from destiny, fasting is a critical part of the believer’s life as it helps us to refocus on God and His word.
Examples of some people in the bible who fasted:
Moses – Deut. 9:7-21
David – 2 Samuel 12:15-25; Psalm 35:13
Jehoshaphat – 2 Chron. 20:3
Joel – Joel 2:12
Nineveh – Jonah 3:7
Esther and the Jews – Esther 4
Anna – Luke 2:37
Jesus – Matt 4:2; Luke 4:2
Paul – Acts 13:1-3; Acts 14:23
Some reasons for fasting:
Repentance – Jonah 3:510; Joel 2:12
Deliverance – Esther 4:14-17
Guidance and protection – Ezra 8:21-23
Commissioning unto ministry – Acts 13:1-3
From the book of Acts, we see that collective prayer and fasting played a vital role in the growth of the early church. It was through much prayer and fasting that the believer received direction and power from the Holy Spirit to carry out the God given mandate. There is no power in the act of fasting itself; the power is in Christ Jesus and the finished work on the cross. Also, effective fasting is that which is driven by pure motives. A True fast releases Kingdom power and destroys satanic strongholds. God is very serious about His business and is not interested in religious games. Isaiah 58.
It is generally accepted that there are three basic ways to fast as seen in the bible:
Partial Fast – as seen with Daniel. This is where we take light meals.
Normal Fast – Abstinence from solids, taking only liquids.
Absolute Fast – abstinence from both water and food.
It is according to one’s preference, ability, or the leading of the Holy Spirit which type of fast one chooses to undertake. The most important thing is that the fast should please and edify our Father in Heaven.
It is important to take time to spiritually and physically prepare for the fast.
A few keys to achieve this are tabulated below:
Praise God for the opportunity and dedicate the fasting period to Him.
Ask Him to sustain you during this time of prayer and fasting. Submit your flesh to Him.
Dedicate yourself to prayer, studying and meditating on the Word of God and make time to listen to what God is saying.
A few things to remember about Fasting:
True fasting enables us to humble ourselves before God.
Fasting changes man, not God. God is Omnipotent and unchanging.
Fasting is neither a gimmick nor a cure all. God has already made total provision for the well-being of His people in every area of their lives. Fasting is therefore not a substitute for any part of God’s provision.
Fasting is a means by which a believer brings his body into subjection to the Holy Spirit, thereby causing the breaking down of barriers existing in man’s fleshly nature that hinder the effective operation of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Fasting intensifies prayer and enables the believer to become more effective spiritually.
Fasting empowers the believer to obtain deliverance, spiritual breakthroughs, answered prayers and victory.
Fasting puts the believer in a position to more readily receive a fresh outpouring of the Spirit and the blessings of God.
Fasting has medical benefits.
THE IMPACT OF FASTING
In order to make it to the next level, sacrifices must be made. Even our Lord Jesus Christ made sacrifices too. Remember that Jesus Christ did not start His ministry until He had fasted. Being born again and living righteously in His sight would guarantee access to His kingdom; however, in order to live a Spirit empowered life, fasting is definitely needed in our lives.
We can emulate Ezra and the Israelites who sought the face of God through fasting (Ezra 8:21-23). In return, He met them at the very point of their needs. Through fasting, God will provide the right way for your possession including finances, job, education, and family. Through fasting and prayers, you are bound to step into the open doors which God has opened for you. Be encouraged and seek God with a purpose, so that you may become the dwelling place of God in the Spirit, a person of S.P.E.E.D.(Selfless, Prayerful, Evangelistic, Empowered, Disciple maker).
Don’t take the impact of fasting and praying for granted. As written in the book of 2 Chronicles, Chapter 20 (verse 2-4 and 15), God took over the battle of King Jehoshaphat. God will take over your battles for you; however, you need to understand the importance of making a sacrifice and seeking Him through fasting and praying. Choose God to be your helper in execution of duties. With God in the picture, you will lose nothing.
We are also reminded that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit but that was not enough. He was led by the Spirit and fasted for forty days; after which, He returned in the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1-2 & 14-15). Believers in Jesus Christ are filled with the Holy Spirit, but there’s a need to be filled with the power as well. Fasting will open the doorway for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, destroying the works of the devil in our lives. Through fasting and praying, the shackles of the enemy and demonic manifestations will be broken. Don’t get comfortable thinking that certain issues are the norm as defined by society.
Also, through fasting and praying, the wrath of God can be averted (Joel 2:12). The king of Nineveh understood the effect of fasting, and ordered everyone (including the animals!) to fast. In turn, God relented from the disaster He intended to rain down on Nineveh (Jonah 3:6-10). Some issues can’t be resolved by mere prayers; but rather, by making sacrifices through fasting.
While recognizing the impact of fasting, let the Holy Spirit direct you on how to do so. In addition to praying, reading and studying the word of God is needed for one to know the Lord’s will and make fasting effective.
It is time to go to the next level through this important Christian discipline of prayer and fasting.
Keep the faith. The best is yet to come!
By Pastor Nkhosana Chongo