By Teri Spears & Thetus Tenneys
Why do we fast?
Scripture gives a strong precedent for fasting. This spiritual discipline was practiced by Moses, Elijah, Esther, Jesus, Paul, Nehemiah, Cornelius, David, Hannah, and others.
Throughout the Old and New Testament eras and during the last two thousand years, fasting has been a primary way for people to humble themselves. God will hear us and respond to our cry when we come before Him in humility and brokenness. We must acknowledge and repent of our sins.
Fasting humbles the natural man, and if coupled with prayer, makes our spirit more sensitive to God. Fasting is never used to bribe God. It is not only an act of self-denial but also of submission to God’s will. Fasting brings revelation by the Spirit of a person’s true spiritual condition causing brokenness, repentance, and change. It illuminates the scripture.
Fasting transforms prayer into a richer experience; it brings personal revival which will spill over into our family, church, and community.
– Revival came to Israel when they fasted and repented.
– Nehemiah fasted and the walls were rebuilt around Jerusalem.
– Cornelius fasted and an angel appeared.
– Anna fasted and prayed in Luke 2 and saw Jesus.
– Esther saved her family and nation by fasting.
Do we want results and anointing? Then we must sacrifice and fast. In these days of troubled families, a troubled nation, and a troubled world, we need praying and fasting people for salvation and preparation for the coming of our Lord.
The great revival in Ethiopia began with five women who gave themselves to days of prayer and weeks of fasting. Hundreds of thousands have now been filled with the Holy Ghost. What hinders us? If five women can turn the tide of a nation, what can one thousand or more of us do?
Our fast should always have a purpose. It is not a food-free marathon we go on to raise our rank in the Kingdom. It is to build our spiritual man by removing the power of the flesh from our life so we can concentrate on the things of God. Jesus did not say, If ye fast…, He said, When ye fast… He expects and requires fasting from us. Our two biggest enemies are the devil and our flesh. Both are weakened by fasting. The spiritual man gains strength while the physical man is weakened. Our flesh must be put under subjection so the Spirit can have preeminence in our life.
A true spiritual fast is not a diet. It is not just going without food. It is a time of drawing closer to God. One of the greatest benefits of fasting is becoming more attentive to God, becoming more aware of our own inadequacies and focusing on His adequacy, then listening to what He wants us “to be and do.”
Fasting is not for Him to “to be” or “to do”. He is; He has already done His part. Now it is left up to us. Fasting empowers. That power will enable us to better reach our communities and our families.
We should not fast for ego purposes or to impress others. We only do this unto the Lord. Fasting is not intended to put us on a guilt trip. If we accidentally eat something then remember we are fasting, we should not be discouraged. Keep on fasting; do not give up. When we feel so weak we can hardly go on we could eat raisins, nuts, honey, juice, or something healthy. Eat a small amount for strength and keep fasting. Do not feel guilty. Just keep at it!
We should not view fasting as a punishment, though our bodies may rebel at first. Fasting should be viewed as a precious opportunity to get closer to God while not distracted by the daily focus of eating. God responds to our sincerity when we willingly humble ourselves. To be humble before God requires personal sacrifices.
Arthur Wallis links our “bondage to food” to a “leakage of spiritual power.” He points out that many Christians mistake the lust that enslaves them for a natural and healthy appetite. When we fast, we are producing fruit–especially the fruit of self-control. Fasting brings surrender of body, soul, and spirit to God.
The chosen fast in Isaiah 58:6-14 give us these purposes for fasting:
– To loose the bands of wickedness
– To undo the heavy burdens
– To free the oppressed
– To break every yoke
– To act compassionately toward the needy
– For health
– For cleansing
– For righteousness
– To enter into the glory of the Lord
– To hasten God’s answer
– To live in light
– For continual guidance
– To repair breaches
– To restore paths
These purposes become benefits.
And they… fasted on that day… (I Samuel 7:6 ).
So the Philistines were subdued…and there was peace… (I Samuel 7:13,14).
– Deliverance from enemies
…Jehoshaphat…proclaimed a fast… (II Chronicles 20:27).
…for the Lord had made them to rejoice over their enemies (II Chronicles 20:27).
– Spiritual understanding
…to seek by prayer…with fasting… (Daniel 9: 3).
…come…to give…. understanding (Daniel 9:22).
– Strengthens prayer
…I was fasting…thy prayer was heard (Acts 10:30,31).
…when ye fast… (Matthew 6:16).
…thy Father…shall reward thee… (Matthew 6:18).
As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said… (Acts 13:2).
– Authority over Satan
…and in those days he did eat nothing… (Luke 4:2).
…Get thee behind me… (Luke 4:8).
– Power for the supernatural
…this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21).
– Decision making
…and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord… (Acts 14:23).
The scriptures reveal many benefits for fasting. God will respond to our seeking after Him through prayer and fasting.
How do we fast?
Fasting can be done in many ways.
Several kinds of fasts are mentioned in the Bible.
– One day fast: consists of any twenty-four hour period or sunup until sundown or from the evening before until 3:00 pm.
– Three day fast: not partaking of food for three days.
– Daniel fast: vegetables, fruits, and grains only.
– Restricted fast: abstaining from certain desired foods, or giving up one meal a day.
– Extended fast: It is best to prepare our body for an extended fast by eating only fruits, vegetables and grains for a few days preceding the fast. Some choose to omit caffeine. This fast can extend for a week or up to forty days.
– Total Fast: A total fast excludes all solid food; we only drink water. (The extended total fast in the scriptures was under supernatural direction.) A non-total fast excludes all solid food, but can include juices, herbal teas, and broth.
Because water acts as a cleansing agent for the body, we recommend it not be excluded when fasting. For someone on medication or under medical supervision, consultation should be made prior to fasting.
Fasting brings blessings and benefits. The result is to glorify God, both in the person who fasts and for those whom we fast and pray.
The above article, “Fasting” is written by Teri Spears & Thetus Tenney. The article was excerpted from pages 38-48 of the authors’ book Prayer.
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.