By Roffie Ensey
Fasting is a very essential part of our walk with God and one of the most powerful forces that can be employed against the enemy. Through this means, victories are won and deliverance is obtained, and power for a closer walk is gained.
It is interesting that in the sins of Adam and Eve, the people of the day of Noah, and those of Sodom and Gomorrah, you will find that in each situation eating was involved in what displeased God. Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree they were instructed to avoid. The men of Noah’s time were “eating and drinking,” ignoring the prophet’s warnings. One of the problems with the people of Sodom and Gomorrah was “fullness of bread.”
God would not condemn without just cause something as necessary to human life as eating. Eating was not the real problem. What God condemned was eating to excess, which indicates a lack of self-discipline.
Fasting requires self-discipline. It is a time for denial of the flesh in the interest of more spiritual pursuits.
Fasting is not a time of letting others see your dedication to God. The Bible tells us to wash our face and anoint our head with oil. In other words, we should comb our hair, get dressed, and not go around all day with a down-and-out or a starving look about us! If we fast only so we can tell others about it—how long we fasted, how hard it was, how much weight we lost, etc.—then we receive our only reward in the telling. When we fast, we should appear as though we fasted not. Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly (Matthew 5:16-18).
Fasting should not be viewed as a way of getting God to change his mind about something, but a way of us getting ourselves in a condition to accept His will for our lives.
Fasting is not a dieting process or to be done just for our health, even though in some cases it is healthy to fast.
Fasting is done to bring your body—the flesh—under subjection. There are three basic types of fasts: normal, doing without food and drinking water only; absolute, no food or water; partial, denying yourself something you really enjoy (e.g., doing without sweets or meats or any solid foods, consuming only clear soups or broth for a period of time). Extreme fasting is for extreme situations.
God’s will is for his people to fast, but not to the point of abuse—and that is possible. It is not humanly possible to do without nourishment indefinitely. During a time of fasting for an extended period water is necessary. It keeps your body from dehydration and also helps to cleanse the toxins from your system.
We once had a lady in our church who had a burden for someone needing the Holy Ghost. This lady drank Dr. Pepper voraciously. The statement she made was, “I had to have one the first thing every morning.” One day while praying, she told God she would not drink another Dr. Pepper until this person received the Holy Ghost. She started that day and fasted Dr. Pepper until she received the desire of her heart. Every time she wanted a Dr. Pepper, she would pray for this person to receive the Holy Ghost. God saw her determination and honored her prayers and her sacrifice, small as it was. She was privileged to see this person filled with the Holy Ghost and still living for God today.
When we fast, we need to guard our spirit. The motivation for fasting is important. The Lord rebuked the Israelites for their wrong spirit, which caused their fasting to be in vain:
Why have we fasted, they say, and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves and you have not noticed? Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and in strife, and in striking each other with wicked fisis. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high (Isaiah 58:3-4 NW).
Fasting involves more than the outward ritual of doing without food or drink. It requires sincere humility, repentance, and a strong desire to see something happen.
Jesus taught His disciples that some things require fasting (see Matthew 17:19-21). Proper fasting will cause one to draw closer to God, making Him the object of their faith. Isaiah also records the promises to those who fast according to God’s will in Isaiah 58:612.
A word of caution on breaking your fast. Most agree that you should take as many days to break your fast as you fast. In other words, if you fast for one day you should eat light on the day after, or if you fast three days you should slowly get back to normal eating through the next three days. This is usually not easy to do because you want everything you see at once! However, you need to use self-control and common sense in adjusting back to your normal eating.
Fasting is something that should be done regularly—not just when there is a desperate need. Granted, it is easier to fast when there is a situation for which you are burdened, but the Word teaches us we need to fast regularly to bring our bodies under subjection to the Spirit. It is a good idea to fast one day each week. The benefits are tremendous!
The above article, “Fasting” was written by Roffie Ensey. The article was excerpted from Ensey’s book, The Role of the Shepherdess.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.