Why Should We Fast?

A while ago I was asked to speak on prayer and fasting, and I have to admit, I was surprised. I’m not one that is usually associated with that in my church so I really wondered why they chose me. I almost said no, but God whispered Yes in my heart. As I prayed over the topic He gave me a message on prayer and I wish I could tell you immediately started fasting, but I didn’t. That took almost a year.

During that year, God brought fasting to my attention many times and I began noticing things. After months and even years of maintaining the status quo, things were changing. It wasn’t overnight, but looking back I could connect the dots.

The change began to happen when people began fasting.

Results of Fasting:

  • My friends gained confidence in their prayers and prayer life—a confidence that only comes through prayer, lots of prayer.
  • Their prayers took on an authority that hadn’t been there before. (Hearing them pray is one of the perks of being in a small group with some of them and of being in Sunday School with others.)
  • Their peace and joy deepened even though parts of their lives grew tougher.
  • Answered prayers and progress made in some persistent areas.
  • Direction given, leading to times of growth individually and collectively.

When I finally connected their growth to their consistent fasting I wanted in. They were obtaining things that I’ve been seeking for five or more years. That led me to paying attention to what the Bible has to say about fasting.

Biblical Reasons We Should Fast:

  • The Bible assumes that you will fast. Matthew 6:16 says “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”
  • In Jesus’ time, fasting was part of Jewish life and was expected.
  • Jesus modeled fasting for us when He went into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days (Matthew 4:2).
  • The Bible connects fasting with repenting. “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil. Joel 2:12-13

Throughout the Bible we see the people of God fasting:

  • David: David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and wept and lay all night on the ground… Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the LORD may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again?” 2 Samuel 12:16, 21-23
  • Esther and Mordecai: In each and every province where the command and decree of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing; and many lay on sackcloth and ashes. Esther 4:3; He sent letters to all the Jews, to the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, namely, words of peace and truth, to establish these days of Purim at their appointed times, just as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had established for them, and just as they had established for themselves and for their descendants with instructions for their times of fasting and their lamentations. Esther 9:30-31
  • Daniel: So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. Daniel 9:3
  • Anna: …she (Anna) never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. Luke 2:37
  • Church leadership: While they (the Antioch church’s prophets and teachers) were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Acts 13:2
  • Paul and Barnabas: When they (Paul and Barnabas) had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. Acts 14:23

When I looked at everything together I knew it was time I tried fasting. I didn’t commit to a regular time of fasting, I just wanted to try it a couple of times. But when I did that I found that I wanted to add fasting to my life. I wanted more of what I was sensing and learning.

What I learned from fasting:

  • I CAN go without food without having a major crash. It’s not always easy but the best things in life are not the easy things!
  • Food doesn’t have the grip on my life that it once did—and it’s really cool.
  • Hunger drives me to prayer—if I intentionally choose to quit thinking about food and commit to praying instead.
  • Having the right perspective about fasting is crucial. Fasting is something I get to do to draw closer to God and thank Him ahead of time for the opportunity. Going into fasting with anticipation changed my outcome. Dreading a fast puts me into a negative mind set which can easily lead praying less and griping more. I get to fast and it’s a special time I get to spend with God.
  • I pray more fervently when I fast.
  • My prayer life became more consistent and deeper.

Since I began regularly fasting I’ve received the direction I’ve been seeking for five years, and I’m growing in my relationship with God. I wish I had started fasting years ago!

Coming up next are some practical tips for fasting. Hope to see you!

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