ON THE WHY & HOW OF FASTING
Fasting is both wonderful and mysterious. Believers throughout the ages have gone without food in order to receive more of God, achieving personal and national breakthroughs.
- FASTING ISN’T (ONLY) ABOUT US
We’re not called to work our way to God. This is what sets Christianity apart from other religions—God has come to us, invaded our time, space, and lives, and welcomed us into His family through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection (Ephesians 2:1–10). Salvation is accomplished through Christ’s work, and we respond by giving Him our lives. This means He is Lord over every area of our lives—including what we eat. Since fasting is to be a normal part of the Christian life (Jesus said “when you fast,” not “if you fast” in Matthew 6:16), Don’t hurry past this point—fasting that doesn’t rely on God is little more than dieting (at best), and can lead to self-righteousness and pride (at worst). We all need grace to fast, no matter how long we’ve been doing it, and we can taste God’s mercy when we ask, seek, and knock (Matthew 7:7; Hebrews 4:16).
- FASTING WORKS FOR US
God gave fasting for our benefit. Jesus said that His followers would fast after He was taken away (Luke 5:35). We are longing for Jesus, for His return, and for His power and beauty to be seen “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
We seek spiritual breakthrough and direction, ask for mercy over our nation as well as our personal circumstances, and hunger for deeper revelation of God and His Word—all good gifts that our Father wants to give us. Fasting clarifies our desires, shows us that the one thing we can’t live without is Jesus, and helps us find our true satisfaction in the Giver (God) more than the gift—although we still get both!
Jesus said that the kingdom is worthy of our wholehearted pursuit 44 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”(Matthew 13:44). God wants to give us the promised blessings, but sometimes we’ve got to be hungry enough for them (literally). Joel 2:12–32 is a great picture of how God wants to use fasting and repentance to bring an outpouring of His Spirit “on all flesh.”
- GOD HONORS SMALL BEGINNINGS
Since we’re not performing for God, and since He promises great rewards to those who seek Him (Matthew 6:18), why not put your faith into action? The Lord will honor even the smallest fast, even if it is just one meal, if it is done in faith.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
- Fast Quietly
- Jesus told His followers to look “normal” when fasting, so that they would attract the attention of God, not men (Matthew 6:16–18). Part of fasting is to spend less time with food and more time with Him. Take a prayer walk or read your Bible during lunch—whatever keeps your mind on God and off food.
- Fasting isn’t to make us miserable, but to help us delight in God, who loves to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11).
2. Feast on God and His Word (Matthew 4:4)
- If we fast without taking in more of God, it’s little more than dieting! Fasting is a divine exchange, where we give up the pleasures of food for the superior pleasures of knowing and loving God more. Only He can satisfy our deepest longings, and He alone is our greatest need (John 4:14; Luke 10:42).
- Fasting does make us look different—we eat less and spend more time in prayer, worship, and study—but we are strengthening our inner man, our spirit, while weakening our flesh (2 Corinthians 4:16–18). Setting a vision for your fast—spiritual breakthrough, a renewed heart, or simply more of God—can help keep your focus on the Lord.
- If possible, fast with a friend, so you can study and pray together and encourage one another. Use the time (and money, if you are led) that you would normally spend on food to give to God and His purposes (Isaiah 58:6–12, for example).
- Sometimes intercession, evangelism, and prophetic words flow more easily during a fast because our spirits are more alert and our flesh is weakened.
7 TYPES OF BIBLICAL FASTING:
- Fasting to experience the power of God in personal ministry. We can fast for a greater release of God’s power in our ministry. E.g.When the disciples could not set a demonized boy free, Jesus told them that the demon involved was the kind that would not go out except by prayer and fasting (Matt. 17:21).
- Fasting for prophetic revelation of the End Times. We are living in the generation in which God will raise up men and women of unusual prophetic insight. There will be an unprecedented release of prophetic revelation in the Church before Jesus returns (Acts 2:17-21).‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.’God answered Daniel’s fierce determination to be a man of prophetic understanding. When the prophet set his face toward God with fasting and prayer, he was given revelation of Israel’s destiny at the end of the age (Dan. 9:1-3, 20-23; 10:1-3, 12-14). It takes supernatural skill to understand the deeper things in God’s heart and His plans for the End Times.
- Fasting for the fulfillment of God’s promises to our city or nation. The Lord has prophetic plans and promises for each city on Earth. We must not attempt passively receive these promises with an idle faith. The Lord intends for us to actively petition Him for their fulfillment. There is no activity more integral to this than sustained corporate intercessory worship and prayer with fasting. For example, God had said that He would restore the Israelites from their horrible 70-year captivity as slaves in Babylon (606-536 BC). When the Persians conquered Babylon, Daniel prayed and fasted for the fulfillment of God’s promises. As a result, Israel was released from captivity and allowed to return to its land and rebuild its nation (Dan. 9:1-3; 10:1- 3).When Cornelius fasted and prayed, God sent him an angelic messenger and the apostle Peter, leading to salvation for his whole household (Acts 10:1-4, 30-31).
- Fasting to stop a crisis. Fasting to avert a national or individual crisis was often practiced in Old Testament times. Time after time God reversed the Israelites’ desperate situation when they turned to Him in corporate prayer and fasting. The prophet Jonah was sent to warn the wicked Assyrian city of Nineveh that the God of Israel was going to destroy them. When the people of Nineveh humbled themselves and repented with fasting, the Lord showed mercy and spared the city (Jonah 3:3-9)
- Fasting for protection. Fasting for personal protection is also scriptural. Esther, a Jewish woman in the Persian court, called the Jews in Persia to fast for three days after a wicked man named Haman set into motion a plan to annihilate all the Jews and take their possessions (Esth. 3:13; 4:7).
- Fasting for direction. Immediately after Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, he fasted for three days, waiting to receive clear direction from the Lord (Acts 9:9). Paul and his team again prayed with fasting when they needed to select and commission the elder of the new churches in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch. “When they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23).
- Fasting for encounter and intimacy with God. the Bridegroom fast “The disciples of John came to Him, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast’” (Matt. 9:14-15). During Jesus’ time on Earth, the disciples grew accustomed to His presence. They felt cherished and loved by Him and they rejoiced in the intimacy of His friendship. Jesus said the joy they were experiencing in His nearness would become grief and longing when He was taken from them at His death. He spoke of a new kind of fast based on His identity as the Bridegroom God and their desire to be with Him. They would fast in mourning because of His absence and fast in longing for His return.
BIBLICAL EXAMPLES OF CORPORATE FASTING:
◆ The Church fasted and prayed for Peter’s deliverance from prison (Acts 12:1-19).
◆ Paul and his team in Antioch fasted to receive prophetic direction (Act 13:1-3).
◆ Paul and his team fasted as they commissioned elders in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch (Acts 14:23).
◆ Israel fasted on Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:29; 23:37; Acts 27:9).
◆ Israel fasted during Purim (Esth. 9:30-31).
◆ Israel fasted in the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months during captivity (Zech 7:3-5; 8:19).
◆ Israel fasted at Mizpah before the Philistines attacked (1 Sam. 7:3-10).
◆ Israel fasted when at civil war with the Benjaminites (Judg. 20:26-28).
◆ Jehoshaphat and Israel fasted before going to war with Moab and Ammon (2 Chr. 20:3-4).
◆ King Josiah humbled himself (2 Kin. 22:11-20).
◆ The people of Israel fasted in King Jehoiakim’s day (Jer. 36:9-10).
◆ Joel’s call to national solemn assemblies (Joel 1:13-14; 2:12-15).
◆ Esther and Israel fasted before a coming holocaust in Persia (Esth. 3:13; 4:3, 7, 16; 5:6).
◆ Ezra and others fasted to seek God for protection on the way to Jerusalem (Ezra 8:21-23).
◆ Nehemiah and Israel in Jerusalem fasted for spiritual renewal (Neh. 9:1).
◆ Nineveh fasted after Jonah’s preaching (Jonah 3:3-9)
- From an online meeting called Dwelling place, one of the speakers said: “There’s a spiritual government over the government of the world.”
- Lou Engle has called a 40 day fast for America and in one of his daily short messages, he mentioned that the church is called to pray for the nation, we need to take our position and authority of our voices and thoughts to bless the government. Our prayers have an influence in the government and the laws that are set in place. We might be complaining about the govt, but maybe it’s time to ask ourselves have we gotten on our knees or come together in praying for our government- not from our frustrations but from the heart of the Father.
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Tim 2:1-4
- I was stuck as I read on Ezekiel 9:9: He answered me, the sin of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great, the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of injustice. – as we pray, let’s keep in mind that bloodshed and injustice is a big deal to God. let’s ask for mercy on our land as we look to the God of Mercy and our Justification.
- Ask the Lord how you should fast the 3 days. – meal, certain kind of food or drink, Daniel fast, etc. or fast from social media. Just make sure you know your body requirement, if under medication please seek medical advice before deciding on food fast.
- Fast begins Monday and ends Wednesday, we can gather on our wed prayers and share if we got any impressions and end the fast in corporate online worship & prayers.
Edited from the following sources-
Fasting guidelines: https://www.ihopkc.org/about/fasting-guidelines-and-information/