In a very complicated world – simplicity, rest and clarity are becoming treasures profoundly sought by many, but often pushed aside for the next distraction or sudden necessity that holds our attention.
As a believer, we are called by the Lord to step aside and recalibrate our hearts, and align them again with His heart. Unfortunately, the privilege of fasting has become an ‘extreme’ to many Christians, often not pursued or practiced.
Fasting has many benefits, both spiritual and practical, but the greatest motive and benefit of fasting is always to answer the beckoning of the Lord – to step aside with Him, and to find rest for the soul. In this place, we hear God differently, we respond differently and our hearts can be greatly moved when we pray with fasting.
Derek Prince defined fasting for us:
“To abstain from food for spiritual purposes.”
This may seem completely foolish to the world, yet Jesus himself saw the benefit of fasting, and he said that we would fast in our day. (Luke 5:34 – 35)
There are many different types of fasts, and we has to be wise in how we approach fasting practically, but the most important factor in our approach to fasting, is that we do so with faith.
Anytime we approach the Lord, we do so with a heart of faith, believing that he sees and hears our very personal intricacies, and the cries of our hearts.
Heb 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
Fasting is not a way of twisting God’s arm, but rather positioning ourselves to hear and receive direction from the Spirit of God, so we can partner with what He wants to do, which in turn can bring liberty to people, answers to troubling situations and solutions during times of crisis.
What were some of the reasons people fasted in the Bible:
- To humble ourselves – Ps 35:13 – 14
There is a promise to those who humble themselves, the bible says that you will be exalted by the Lord. It’s always a good practice to allow the Lord to exalt us, not for us to exalt ourselves, as He is superior at doing both of them.
- To draw near to the Lord – Luke 2:37
The very act of fasting is to separate oneself ‘Unto the Lord’ for a period of time. This is what the bible refers to as holiness – being set apart. The truth of a loving Father is shown to us in the following verses:
James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
Heb 11:6, “… because anyone that comes to Him must believe that He exists, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
- In times of crisis and calamity
There are many examples of this in Scripture, such as in the book of Daniel and also Nehemiah who heard of the state of Jerusalem. Neh 1:4
- To return our hearts to the Lord when we have wandered from Him – Joel 2:12 – 13
- To intercede on behalf of others – Is 58
- To seek healing or deliverance – Is 58
- When we lack purpose or direction in our lives – Ezra 8:21 – 23
- Setting people apart for the ministry, and appointing leadership – Acts 14:23; Acts 13:3 – 4
These are a few of the purposes outlined in the Scripture that can show us the power of fasting, and there are many many more.
I personally have always seen fasting as the ‘Status Quo Changer’ in a person’s walk with the Lord. The following scriptures beautifully reveal the true heart behind fasting:
Is 58:6 – 7
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
“…having prayed with fasting…”
“… as they ministered unto the Lord and fasted…”
In each of these instances, the focus is not on abstaining from food, even though it was central to the fast, but rather the focus is prayer, worship and loosing the chains of injustice to those who were bound.
I believe fasting is a special key the Lord has given to us as a gift, and it open doors which may right now seem shut to us no matter what we have done. I encourage every believer to awaken fasting in their life, it will bring change!!
“IF A BURDEN GROWS SO HEAVY THAT IT CANNOT BE DISCHARGED BY PRAYER, WE SHOULD FAST. WHEN PRAYER CANNOT DISCHARGE A BURDEN, FASTING MUST FOLLOW.”