If there’s one thing that people get emotional about, it’s their food. It comforts us, feeds our souls, and nourishes our bodies. We even have a holiday almost completely dedicated to food…Thanksgiving anyone? The Bible assures us that God created a wide variety of plants and animals for us to eat and enjoy, but there are also times when we need to NOT eat. Sometimes we need to give our bodies a break from all the indulgence and fast.
Fasting is a discipline that many often overlook, but it is an important part of a believer’s journey. There are three things required of Christ’s followers: giving, praying, and fasting.
“A three-fold cord is not quickly broken.” Eccl. 4:12
Doing all three acts gives you unparalleled strength in God. Christ himself did all three during His time on Earth, so what better example do we need? Growing up, I was always taught the importance of giving tithes and offering, so that I would not “rob God” of what was already His. “If God has blessed you to be able to give, then you should give to those that don’t have,” my dad would tell me. “Share your blessing and God will bless you with more.” My sister and I were encouraged to say our prayers in the morning, before meals, and at night before bed. I’ve seen and heard my dad on his knees in prayer more times than I can count. But in all those years growing up, I never once saw or heard of my parents fasting…or anyone that I personally knew fasting for that matter. Once I grew older and started to learn more about Christ for myself, I realized that I had been neglecting an important responsibility of every Christian: fasting.
Simply put, fasting is the act of going without food and drink for a spiritual purpose. It is a normal part of a relationship with God…completely normal. Fasting is not a diet, and it is not something that only extreme Christians do. Whether you fast from all food and drink, choose a “Daniel” fast of fruits, grains, and vegetables, fast for one day or forty days, if the sacrifice does not mean anything to you, it will not mean anything to God. There are obvious physical benefits to fasting: it gives your digestive system a break, flushes toxins from the body, allows your body time to recover and heal itself, and there is usually a fair amount of weight loss involved. Biblical fasting is so much more that just the physical benefits!
Biblical fasting involves focusing less on what your body wants and needs and focusing more on feeding your spirit! Let’s be honest, we spend a whole lot of time feeding our mouths, but the spirit can sometimes live off of a weekly meal of Sunday’s sermon, with the possibility of a light snack of Wednesday night bible study. Some of us feed our spirit a daily meal, and then let it starve for the rest of the day. During a fast, your body gets its turn at going hungry while your spirit grazes on the Word all day long.
What are the spiritual benefits? Fasting will keep you sensitive to the Holy Spirit and make it possible for the Lord to give you fresh purpose, revelation, and direction. Fasting prepares you for a whole new anointing from God…it’s a way of cleaning house in order for God to move in a new way in your life.
The best time to fast is:
- when you desire a closer relationship with Christ
- when you need his direction in your life
- when you want to walk in His will and not your own
- when you need to hear, feel, or see God working in your life.
“Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Rom. 12:1
Fasting is how you can present your body as a living sacrifice that God will honor. He can work miracles and bring deliverance when we give God the room to operate in our lives. If you have not fasted before, you are missing out on a whole other level of relationship with Christ. Take some time to examine the stories of Moses, Joshua, Esther, Jehoshaphat, Nehemiah, or Jesus Christ and how fasting operated in their lives. Are you ready to go deeper with God?