Recently, a reader wrote to ask for more information on fasting. There is SO much that can be said about fasting, entire books have been written on this subject. Here is a brief overview, written by my husband, on this subject and how it effects the life of a Christian:
“I will not sacrifice anything to the Lord that cost me nothing.” 1 Sam 24:24
The Biblical sacrificial system demanded that only the best animals were to be sacrificed. It was designed to cost the worshipper, set up to put the worshipper in a position of dependency upon God. When one considers a fast, it should be done prayerfully and it should cost the worshipper. Sacrifice demands faith and faith is the currency that releases the Kingdom.
“The Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee.” (Luke 4:14)
If sin is the willful taking of that which is unlawful; then fasting is the willful sacrifice of that which is lawful. Jesus learned obedience by willfully sacrificing that which was lawful when He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, the beginning of His 40 day fast. The Bible says that Jesus was filled with the Spirit when He went into the wilderness, but something happened upon His return. “He returned in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). The willful sacrifice of fasting, led to an increase in “power.” Jesus illustrates this point with the disciples.
“Assuredly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “move from here, to there” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.’” (Matthew 17:19-21)
The willful sacrifice of fasting (obedience and sacrifice), leads to a faith that can move mountains. “Faith needs fasting for it’s full growth … In nothing is man more closely connected with the world of sense than in his need for, and enjoyment of, food. It was the fruit with which man was tempted and fell in Paradise. It was with bread that Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. But He triumphed in fasting … The first thought suggested by Jesus’ words in regard to fasting and prayer is that only in a life of moderation and self-denial will there be sufficient heart and strength to pray much … Without such voluntary separation, even from what is lawful, no one will attain power in prayer. Such power comes only through fasting and prayer” (1).
“Blessed are those who hunger … for they shall be filled” (Mat 5:6).
There is a certain humility that comes with hunger. It’s a good thing to know what it means to be hungry. “Hunger is a mighty good thing. It’s the greatest persuader I know if. It’s a marvelous mover. I wish we all had it spiritually. I wish to God we were desperately hungry. Wouldn’t it be glorious? Somebody would get filled before this meeting was over” (2). The hungry get fed. The exercise of fasting is birthed from a spiritual hunger for more of God and His world. It is a sacrifice of lawful things, a physical hunger. This hunger impacts the soul with desperation for feeding. Heidi Baker, a missionary in Africa, speaks of the power of the desperation of hunger: “The people there are so hungry that when it comes time to eat, they literally stomp on each other. They are so desperate that they push and shove each other out of the way in order to get to the food first. It does not sound nice, I know, but the ones who scream the loudest and push the hardest get fed first. The ones who press in always get the bread. I have witnessed this happen time and again, so I asked God, ‘what is this, God?’ He said: ‘the ones who are hungry get fed. The ones who are thirsty get to drink. It is as simple as that’” (3). When we get desperate for an increase of God, and that desperation leads to sacrifice and we will not be disappointed in God’s response. We will be filled.
1.) Murray, Andrew, With Christ in the School of Prayer; Whitaker House, New Kensington, PA; 1981; pp 100-103
2.) Liardon, Roberts, John G. Lake, The Complete Collection of His Life Teachings; Albury Publishing; Tulsa, OK; 1999; p 452
3.) Baker, Roland and Heidi, Expecting Miracles; Chosen Books; Grand Rapids, MI; 2007; p 48