Have you been missing out on the power of a biblical fast by avoiding the spiritual practice of fasting?
Whenever you think of fasting, does your flesh scream and want to run the other way? It’s no fun and can be uncomfortable to be hungry. Did you know that fasting can be a powerful spiritual tool that change things in your life?
In this article, learn all about the power of fasting and the rewards it can bring.
What is Fasting?
According to the dictionary, fasting means “to eat little or no food or only certain kinds of food.” But fasting should also include prayer and studying the Word of God (the Holy Bible). To go without food and not include prayer and the Word is simply dieting.
It is important for you to understand what fasting does not do. It does not change God or make God do something for you. Fasting does not impress God or others that you are spiritual. It is not self-punishment. It doesn’t just make you hungry.
Fasting does change you. It gives you a greater spiritual awareness and sensitivity by turning down the voice of your flesh and turning up the voice of your spirit. It puts you in a better position to receive from God. It clears out the natural clutter in your life. It provides an atmosphere for breakthroughs and clears the way for answers, wisdom, knowledge and understanding.
Fasting increases your hunger for God, His Word and spiritual things as you humble your mind and body under the mighty hand of God. Through fasting you can discover God’s will in any given situation.
How do I fast?
If you have not fasted before, we advise you not start by going on a total fast from all food. [When you do get to this stage, we encourage you not to go more than three days and to drink plenty of water. Also, when you are coming off a lengthy total fast, it is important to slowly begin to eat meats and vegetables and avoid sweets.]
What we suggest is that you start by going on what is often referred to as a “Daniel Fast” or a “no pleasant food” fast.
It is described in Daniel 10:1-3:
“In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.” (NKJV)
Five keys to a successful fast
First, lay aside some foods that you like and unnecessary things that just entertain the flesh. The main thing is to be led by the Holy Spirit–not your flesh! Give up something that is important to you, such as sweets or bread.
It is also important to fast unnecessary things. Some people fast their favourite sporting event or television programme or reading the newspaper. Once again, it is important for you to pray and receive direction from the Holy Spirit.
Second, determine how long you are going to fast before you begin. A “no pleasant food” fast can be done for a longer period of time than three days. But if this is your first fast, we recommend that you begin with a short period of time and then increase it as your experience and understanding grows.
Some people have determined that they want to live what is often referred to as a ‘fasted life’. This means that they have determined to fast a certain period of time every week or month. For example, some have decided to fast every Tuesday. Others have decided to fast lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday, but to eat breakfast and dinner. Again, the Holy Spirit is your guide in determining a fast.
Third, decide the purpose of the fast. Write a list of the reason(s) for the fast. There is no limit to the reasons for a fast. It is good to follow Isaiah’s example, “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you (God) break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6 (NKJV)).
You can fast for your family – salvation, finances or relationships to be restored. You can fast for your nation – peace, unity, prosperity or protection. You can fast for the Church – labourers for the harvest of salvation, missions, revival or spiritual growth of the Body of Christ. You can fast for yourself. For example, for God’s will and direction for your life.
Fourth, replace the things that you have decided to fast with a focus on spiritual things. “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). Fasting is not just doing without food or entertainment. It is also taking the time that was spent on that activity and using that time to focus on spiritual things.
Spend this time reading the Word and Word-filled books, listening to teaching or worship music, praying and fellowshipping with God. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded…Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:8, 10 (NKJV)).
Before you start a fast, have a general plan of what you want to read and study. We recommend that you choose a book of the New Testament and read a chapter each day. Read over that chapter several times during the day and meditate on (think on) its content. In addition, read and study spiritual books that the Holy Spirit leads you to.
Fifth, expect to receive results from the fast. Use your faith to believe that you will have breakthroughs in every realm of life – spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, financially and socially. As you fast, write down the insights and understanding that you gain.
The result of the fast declared in Isaiah 58:6 can be found in Isaiah 58:8-9 (NKJV):
“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am’.”
Before you begin your fast
As you begin on the journey towards the rewards of fasting, make sure you meet the conditions required to see results.
Before you begin your spiritual fast, get rid of all the hindrances such as strife, gossip or anything that is not part of the love walk. You MUST be walking and operating in the true love of God in order to see results from a fast.
These conditions prevent the devil from coming in and destroying the purpose and effectiveness of the fast. Not operating in love prevents the fast from profiting for you.
Ready to receive the rewards of fasting?
Fasting helps subdue the flesh, bring salvation for the people you pray and believe for, revelation and deliverance. Fasting unto the Lord is the worth the sacrifice! So take the time to get before God separating yourself from all the things and distractions of the world and begin on a spiritual fast. Fasting may be the extra help you need to lay hold of God’s will for your life.
Fasting, prayer and the Word give you the spiritual edge you need in life. Believe that you receive!
Please note: If you are pregnant or have any health problems you should consult your doctor before fasting from food.