Posts Tagged ‘fasting’

What is Fasting?

Friday, August 21st, 2015


What is fasting, and how is it related to prayer? Is there any biblical evidence that fasting is for today? Does Jesus want us to fast?

The purpose of fasting is to bring the body into subjection to the Spirit. Fasting is “abstaining from food for measured periods of time in order to heighten my hunger for the things of God.” – James MacDonald

The Jews were required to fast on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29). Everyone went without eating. Men, women, and children—every single person fasted before the Lord in humiliation. God commanded His people to fast—ALL of them.

Feasts were also commanded by the Lord, so there is nothing wrong with food in and of itself. God created food for the sustenance of our bodies, and He expects us to take care of our bodies. It’s only when we want more of God—or we have bondage to sin that we can’t get rid of—or we need wisdom—that we can set aside time to fast.

Christ expects that all true believers will fast, saying, “WHEN (not if) you fast, don’t be like the hypocrites” (Matthew 6:16).

When Jesus was with the Pharisees, they asked why His disciples were feasting while John the Baptist’s disciples fasted. “And Jesus said to them, ‘Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the Bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the Bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they WILL fast.’” Matthew 9:15 ESV

Ezra fasted with 4,000 people to solve a problem. He needed to travel from Babylon down to Jerusalem with no bodyguards because he had told the king that God would protect them. But robbers would always attack travelers along that road. Ezra was scared into fasting for God’s supernatural protection because it would be a miracle if they arrived down in Jerusalem with all the gold vessels and treasures that they were carrying back to the Temple from the days of King Nebuchadnezzar. God heard their prayers and protected them during their travels.

Esther and the entire Jewish nation fasted before the Lord when the Jews were going to be massacred by Haman and his henchmen. God supernaturally intervened and Haman was hung on his own gallows, and all the enemies of the Jews were destroyed, while the Jews were kept alive and protected by God.

By the way, fasting is nearly always accompanied by tears. This is because you are so empty and dependent on the Lord that you are desperate. The reason that drove you to fast is the reason you are weeping. Fast with repentance as well as sincerity (Joel 2:12-14).

The best thing about fasting is that you get to know God Himself—you draw close to His heart and learn to align your will to God’s will. Ask God to reveal sin in your life as your first fast because we have so much sin that we are not even aware of. Without holiness we cannot walk closely with Him, so purge your life from all sin. Then you will draw much closer to God and discover His will.

When I fast, the fact that my stomach is hurting causes me to have much more intense prayer times. I seek God with all my heart. When my stomach is full and I pray with all my heart—that prayer is less intense than when I pray and my belly is empty. There is a yearning of the body… a weakness that is put under the authority of Christ. The emptying of ourselves causes a deeper passion, a deeper seeking after the Lord that is much harder to achieve without fasting.

I agree with John Piper that “the absence of our fasting is the measure of our contentment with our absence of Christ.” The normal life of a Christ-follower includes fasting. That is because all true Christ-followers are wholehearted.

This is the first post in the “Hunger for God” Fasting Series. (One will be posted each Friday):

To keep up with my prayer posts, follow my Prayer Page, where you will find exclusive prayer videos to help you hunger for God and establish a true prayer life!

What I Know About Fasting

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

fastingI’ve noticed that fasting is always connected to prayer. For example, in Luke 2:36, Anna was known for fasting and praying. (Nehemiah 1:4 also says “fasted and prayed,” as well as many other times in the Bible when major change needed to happen.) When the disciples were trying to cast out a demon, Jesus said that certain demons could not be cast out unless someone fasted. Jesus also fasted, and for some reason it was sin for Him to eat a piece of bread during that time, or Satan would not have tempted Him with this. Jesus was weakening his body to connect to God the Father in an even more intense way so that He would know what He was supposed to do as far as ministry. Jesus did not begin His formal ministry until after the fasting took place. Paul prayed and fasted after choosing new elders for a new church, before leaving them (Acts 14:23).

I’ve never heard a sermon about fasting, and whenever I ask a pastor, most of them avoid the issue by quoting that Isaiah verse that says that God is not happy with the people’s fasting, but that was because their hearts were wicked. Also, they say that we are not under the law, but we are supposed to imitate Jesus, and if Jesus was God and still needed to fast, who are we to say that we should never fast?

Someone asked me to fast for her husband who was in a serious, unrepentant sin. I was afraid of fasting because I didn’t know anything about it. This is why I looked up every fasting verse in the New Testament to see what the Bible really said. I asked my husband permission to fast on that day (that she asked me) until sundown, as long as I could take care of the children. I drank juices. I felt weak. I cast myself on God. Seriously, I ran out of words as to how to pray for this man, since I was continually praying the whole day, too. Instrumental praise music caused my heart to be even more engaged while praying. Then I listened to hymns with words. I ended up praying the songs (which I’ve never done for others before), that it would be well with this man’s soul, for example. Anyway, it was all a very strange experience, and I don’t know if I’ll ever do it again. I wish more pastors would preach about fasting, and educate people more about this subject.