Fasting is a deliberate act of denying food among other things to nourish the spirit. The Bible prescribes fasting as a discipline and also describes various fasting examples from the lives of different people.
Examples of fasting- Avoiding food is what Jesus and Elijah appeared to do during their forty day fast. Paul during his conversion experience avoided all food and drink for three days and Moses was mentioned as having no food or water for forty days twice. From a medical standpoint, if Moses had nothing else to drink as well, it would have been impossible to survive that fast unless the Lord miraculously sustained him during that period. Daniel is mentioned to have undertaken a partial fast, where certain predetermined food were avoided.
Nature of fasting– Jesus’ teaching on fasting is noteworthy;
16 “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. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Mat 6)
He implies that fasting is expected behavior for Christians as he begins the passage with not ‘if you fast’, rather ‘when you fast’. Fasting is a pact between the disciple and his maker, with no intention being made to reveal the fast to others and obtain their approval. The nature of fasting should be individualized and every person should undertake no more than what he can bear and feels burdened to do so. It could be as simple as avoiding certain foods or simply missing a meal. It is important to attempt to progress slowly to more extended periods of fasting and medical conditions that might impair the ability to fast should be taken into consideration when planning to fast. Food is not the only thing that should be given up during the period of the designated fast. Television, media, computers and work if possible are other things that if given up will improve the quality of fasting. A significant portion of the time, though not all of it, should be kept apart for prayer and meditation on the word of God.
Importance of fasting- The act of fasting necessarily involves denial of the body and the soul with its desires, with the objective of strengthening the spirit. This act therefore goes to the very core of God’s command to a disciple and embodies the essence of discipleship. Fasting weakens the flesh and so strengthens the spirit. Unless the spirit remains strong in a disciple, he will not be able to overcome the workings of his flesh (body and soul) and will be rendered useless in terms of productivity for God. Breaking the yoke of sin, healing of diseases, receiving guidance during difficult times, receiving power to minister and bringing a spiritual awakening in the land can all follow when fasting prayer is undertaken.
6 “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? 7 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? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. (Isaiah 58)
Fasting by itself will not go a long way, but a spirit filled walk in combination with fasting and prayer will. Abundance and power follows for one who maintains the disciplines of discipleship in his life, among them fasting.
- SIGNS OF THE TIMES
- DAVID’S FAILURES