Fasting isn’t a topic we as the church, in large part, talk about much is it?
We talk about giving something up for advent or doing Whole 30 as Summer approaches, but when do we discuss fasting as a normal, commanded part of the Christian walk? Truth is, rarely.
But that’s what it is—a normal, commanded part of the Christian walk. Albeit, not always an easy one.
I myself have a long history of fasting. I have had seasons where I fasted once a week, every week and other seasons where I invested in a Daniel Fast lifestyle. I have done extended water-only fasts, juice fasts and even media fasts. Each powerful and purposed in their own right depending on whichever season I found myself in. (Sidenote: not all fasts need to be food-related in nature. Some are even limited for medical reasons. So, what is God asking you to fast from instead? Is it social media? Or perhaps it’s from Netflix? Or maybe its a fast from shopping?)
Fasting is a tool I revere immensely, but one I have to remind myself often is a required part of the Christian walk. It’s part of the very essence of Christ’s command: “Deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me.”
Denying the flesh… It’s a hard one. It’s also a tool that, prophetically speaking, God is highlighting strongly this season for His people as they grow in Him, boldly holding the line and pressing forward in faith during perilous times.
So let’s look at why we are called to fast from a biblical perspective:
Why should we fast?
In short, we fast not to move God’s heart, but instead to move ourselves closer to God, His ways, His Kingdom, His reality.
Types of Fasting:
- Fasting is meant to be part of the ordinary Christian walk.
Psalm 69:10—”When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn.”
Matthew 6:16-18—“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.”
- Fasting is an integral and foundational tool in ministry.
Moses, Elijah, Jesus—they each began their ministry’s with a 40 day fast and followed it up with regular fasting (Exodus 34:28, Luke 4:2).
Those living on the earth today that walk in God’s power—raising the dead, cleansing the lepers, healing the sick, casting out demons—they all have a regular fasting life. (E.g. Heidi Baker, David Hogan, Todd White, Mel Tari…)
Jesus Himself said that certain ministry can only be done through prayer and fasting: Matthew 7:21, “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
- Fasting helps us in seeking the Lord’s direction.
Acts 13:2—”While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.‘”
- Fasting as a form of repentance and commitment to the Lord.
Joel 2:12—“’Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’”
- Fasting as a weapon against “insurmountable” opposition.
Esther 4:16—“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
Daniel 10:3—I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.