Fasting

Stacy Woodford / David Swart

Fasting

The point of fasting is not simply to make ourselves hungry, but rather to lead us closer to the Lord. 

Fasting is an expression of our desire for intimacy with the Lord, one that God sees and honors with a reward (Matt 6:18). 

We fast knowing that as we genuinely seek the Lord and show what we are willing to lay down in order to draw closer to him, he rewards us with more and more of himself. His presence is the greatest reward we could ever receive from fasting or any other spiritual practice. This is why we do it. This is why we fast. It’s out of our genuine desire to live in the presence of God, the very purpose for which we were made.

There are a handful of different types of fasting found in the Old and New Testament. King Jehoshaphat, in the Old Testament, called a fast where the nation of Israel went without all solid and liquid food. This fasting in it’s most common sense — no food, only liquids. (2 Chronicles 20:24-27)

Another type of biblical fasting is modeled by the prophet Daniel, who abstained from certain types of food for three weeks. We can fast this way by abstaining from certain foods or activities for a time. (Daniel 10:2-3)

Perhaps the most intense fast is found modeled in the book of Esther and in the conversion of Saul (who later became the Apostle). In both cases, we see the abstaining from all food and drink. It’s very important to note that these fasting examples only lasted three days. (Esther 4:16 ; Acts 9:9)

Lastly, we see in Exodus 19:15 and 1 Corinthians 7:5 the people of God were called to abstain from having sex (married couples), in order to prepare themselves for an encounter with the Lord or devote themselves to prayer.

These are just a few examples of fasting found in scripture. As stated before, the most important part of fasting is following the Holy Spirit’s leading. 

Whether it’s from food, food, and drink, solid or liquid, do so as the Spirit leads you and intentionally replace the time you would otherwise be spending on other, less important, things in prayer, meditation, reading, or journaling.

If you’re not sure which to decide, answer this question: “what is currently consuming more of my time, focus, and thoughts more than seeking the presence of God? What things am I willingly letting myself be preoccupied with and am I actually willing to lay them aside to seek the presence of God?” What am I prioritizing above seeking the Lord?

I know this is likely a touchy subject. We all have a number of things in our lives that require our attention and focus. The question we must ask ourselves is, “does this thing in my life (family, school, work, etc.) take priority in my thoughts over and above my relationship with God?” Once we’ve identified these things we must be proactive in reprioritizing them after our devoted time spending time with God reading, writing, running, or however you connect with God best.

Jesus talked about fasting in a way that assumed we would do it as a natural part of our walking with him. This is not for Super-Christians, but for everyone. As I’ve said before I will say once more: follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in everything you do, including fasting. Could anything we give up for a time be too great a sacrifice in exchange for the presence of God?

Fasting always comes with prayer…. they go hand in hand – so in a sense we can say Fasting supports or strengthens our resolve to pray!

We see in Judges and in Acts that people fasted to seek God’s guidance. In 1 & 2 Samuel some fasted to express grief. Sometimes in the Bible fasting was done, and called for, when Seeking Deliverance or protection, for a group or for a nation (tremendous power in a national fast!). In 1 Samuel 7:6 and Jonah 3:5-8, we see fasting as an expression of repentance and returning to God. 

Fasting is sacrificing something you want, for the sake of something you want even more!