Many believers and church goers seem to know very little if anything about fasting. As a result very little fasting takes place. It is certainly not a popular activity. The reality is there is great power in the principles of prayer with fasting. But so many people either ignore fasting saying “it’s not for me”, or they misunderstand what fasting is all about, and what is required for true Christian fasting to take place.
Firstly it is a giving up.
It is giving up food or in some instances other kinds of activity such as watching television, sport or soaps to give quality time to prayer and seeking God. God is not counting calories but he is looking for heart and commitment. Fasting is a sign of commitment and determination. We give up food or some other activity in order to give more time and energy to prayer and seeking him. It is not always possible because of diet or for medical reasons to abstain totally from food.
So abstinence from certain kinds of food constitutes fasting. Daniel for instance abstained from certain kinds of food concentrating largely on vegetables and water. Secondly it is an adding to. You give up something in order to do more of something else.
To add more time to your agenda for prayer and seeking God through the Bible. Through fasting we add more of God to our lives and the situations we face. It is a very serious and committed activity, one that we neglect at our peril if we genuinely want to see God move.
In the Bible people fasted for all kinds of reasons. Here are just six examples of people in the Bible fasting.
1) Sometimes they fasted for forgiveness – Daniel is a great example of one who fasted and prayed ,not just for forgiveness for his own sins but for the sins of the nation, Nehemiah in Ch1 similarly fasts over his own sins and those of the nation. We would do well to heed his example today.
2) David fasted over sickness. He fasted and prayed for his dying son (whom Bathsheba bore), saying, “Perhaps God will have mercy.” It was a serious attempt to ask for God’s healing for the sickness.
3) When seeking God’s protection – Esther and Nehemiah are great examples of this taking place.
4) When preparing for ministry – Jesus in fasts for forty days in the wilderness before commencing ministry.
5) When appointing leaders and elders in Acts 14:23 .
6) When seeking guidance – in Acts 13.
Fasting is one of the ancient disciplines that we need to re-discover. Why fast at this time, for God to move, for breakthroughs, for salvations, for a greater effectiveness in our ministry to the surrounding world. All are valid reasons but perhaps the most appropriate is to draw closer to God. You can begin by fasting from a meal or setting a day aside. There can be a special sense of the presence of God when you get into a second or third day of fasting. if abstinence from food is unwise because of medical or dietary reasons, try fasting on fruit and vegetables or don’t switch the television, computer the television off. God responds to evidence of heart responsiveness rather than the absence of food or a certain activity.