Do you want to grow spiritually? Are you longing for a spiritual breakthrough? Give God your undivided attention through biblical fasting and see Him move on your behalf. In this post, I’m talking about the benefits of biblical fasting.
I don’t know about you, but fasting is not my favorite subject. My fleshly nature tends to want it easy; I crave comfort. While fasting is not fun, it’s necessary. It is an intentional positioning of your heart for breakthrough and spiritual growth.
After dodging God on this subject for awhile, I finally announced one day that I felt impressed to fast from my (previous) blog. I pulled out the sackcloth and ashes and mourned this fact to my readers. Woe is me! Although I was trying to be humorous, the truth is, following through with it wasn’t easy! But obedience is key.
The first day of my blog fast I knew that God wanted me to pull back from social media, and what did I do? I opened a Google+ account! But God worked on me during that fast, anyway.
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6 ESV
When to Fast
Fasting is not a question of if but when. Jesus said, “when you fast” not “if you fast” (Matthew 6:16-18). It is biblical; Jesus did it (Matthew 4:2). Some people fast religiously, almost without direction. If that’s the case, then check your motive. God may be calling you to fast. He certainly has a specific purpose in mind. More often than not, when I decide to fast, God has already laid it on my heart for a definite reason.
When should we fast?
- Regularly. Fasting is a spiritual discipline. The frequency is Spirit led. (See Luke 2:37, 2 Corinthians 11:27)
- When the leadership calls a fast (i.e. your church or nation). Public national fasts were recorded in the Bible on occasions when the people were repenting of sin. (See 1 Samuel 7:5-6; Nehemiah 9:1-3)
- When you need direction. Are you desperate to hear Him more clearly? When the noise of everything else is temporarily removed it is easier to receive clarification, especially when seeking direction. (See Acts 13:2)
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And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:16-18 ESV
Kinds of Fasts
- Total fast (only drinking water) – Jesus ate nothing when He fasted.
- Daniel fast – more restrictions than a vegan diet. See link.
- Juice fast (juicing and drinking water only) – only by the leading of the Lord. Take medical conditions into consideration.
- Partial fast (food specific) – be Spirit led. Recommended if you have a medical condition. Can also be from sun up to sundown.
- Non-food related (e.g. entertainment) fast – my recommendation is to do these fill-in-the-blank types of fasts in addition to (and not in place of) one of the ones listed above.
- Use wisdom. I’ve been underweight for the last several years so I cannot participate in fasts that involve the loss of vital calories for my body. My doctor even recommended that I not participate in a Daniel fast because he was concerned my body would burn muscle instead of the missing extra fat. Instead, I fast chocolate, sugar, or other specific treats I usually partake in daily. Occasionally, I fast some form of entertainment or something I would rather not give up. 😉 God always makes it clear which precious commodity I am to fast.
- Take medications into consideration. If you are on medication and the directions say to eat food with it, then follow the instructions of your doctor or pharmacist. It’s not using wisdom to tempt God by throwing your body into a danger zone. Find the principle of not putting God to the test in Matthew 4:5-7.
- If you give into eating during your fast, don’t get into condemnation. Simply repent and keep moving forward.
- Remove or limit normal distractions such as watching television. It will help you to remain sensitive to the Spirit.
- Resist temptation by running to God immediately. See the foolproof way to abandon temptation.
Beneficial Results of Fasting
- Protection: Esther 4:16; Ezra 8:21-23; 2 Chronicles 20:1-25
- Victory over temptation: Matthew 4:1-11
- Commission into ministry: Acts 13:2-3; Acts 14:23
- Reach the heart of God: Jonah 3:4-10
- Deliverance: Mark 9:28-29; Isaiah 58:6
- Preparation for new seasons of ministry: Matthew 4:1-17
- Health: Isaiah 58:8
Fasting not only gives spiritual benefits but physical ones as well:
Fasting cleanses the body from built-up chemicals, metals, and other toxins. When you fast, your cells, tissues, and organs dump out the accumulated waste products of cellular metabolism as well as chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides, and solvents. Fasting revitalizes you in every way: mentally, physically, and spiritually. It also allows the overburdened liver to ‘catch up’ on its detoxification work. —Don Colbert, MD
Remember, when you fast, the time you would usually spend eating is spent with the Lord instead. Write down your questions, any struggles you may be facing during the fast, and what God is showing you in your journal. Go back later in the fast and read what you wrote. Often you will gain more revelation or see the answers to your questions as God completes the work He is doing.