Understanding the True Essence of Fasting
Fasting, often misunderstood, holds a power far beyond mere physical discipline. It’s crucial to recognize that fasting is neither a hunger strike nor an attempt to sway God’s will. Contrary to the belief that fasting is about demonstrating our earnestness or desperation for a specific outcome, it’s not about changing God.
God’s goodness and love for us are constant, unaffected by whether we fast or not. Fasting is about our transformation, not His.
The Personal Transformation Through Fasting
Fasting serves as a tool for personal change. It’s a spiritual journey where we align closer to God’s heart, understanding that He doesn’t withhold blessings or need persuasion. The essence of fasting is to refine our spirits and bring clarity to our minds. It’s a time of introspection and spiritual growth, where we focus on internal changes rather than external demands.
Fasting with the Right Motive
As tempting as it might be to fast for physical benefits, like shedding those extra pounds, it’s essential to maintain pure motives. Fasting for vanity, such as weight loss, misses the profound spiritual benefits it offers. Weight loss might be a side effect, but it should never be the driving force.
Fasting is a sacred practice to deepen our relationship with God and purify our intentions, not a mere dietary change.
Five Things Fasting Will Do For You
1 – Fasting: A Catalyst for Purifying Faith
Matthew 17’s account of Jesus healing an epileptic boy highlights fasting as a means to purify faith. When the disciples questioned their inability to heal the boy, Jesus pointed to their unbelief.
Fasting emerges as a powerful tool to silence doubts and mental disruptions, clarifying and strengthening our faith. It’s not about physically abstaining from food but spiritually nurturing our trust in God’s word. By fasting, we can dismantle the barriers of unbelief, allowing our faith to flourish unchecked.
Daniel’s three-week mourning and fasting in Babylon, as he prayed for breakthrough, shows us the profound impact of fasting on spiritual warfare. The angel’s words to Daniel reveal that his prayers were heard from the first day of his fast. Yet, the combination of persistent prayer and fasting eventually led to the breakthrough. This demonstrates how fasting can intensify our spiritual resilience and expedite divine responses.
Fasting, often reduced to dietary changes, is fundamentally a spiritual exercise. The idea of a “Daniel fast” as a time of restricted eating misrepresents the essence of Daniel’s fasting experience.
True fasting, as seen in the Bible, involves complete abstinence from all pleasant food, focusing entirely on seeking God. It’s about more than just physical discipline; it’s a profound commitment to spiritual seeking and connecting more deeply with God.
2 – Fasting as a Catalyst for Breakthrough
Fasting is more than a mere ritual; it’s a powerful accelerator for spiritual breakthroughs. While it’s not about earning God’s favor or blessings – those are freely given through grace – fasting can significantly hasten our spiritual progress. When we face obstacles or feel capped in our growth, incorporating fasting into our spiritual practice can help us break through these barriers, enhancing our connection with God and aligning us more closely with His will.
The concept of fasting has often been diluted to fit our modern comforts, leading to misconceptions about its true nature. True fasting isn’t about choosing what’s convenient to give up, like chocolate or television. Instead, it’s about total abstinence, a conscious decision to close one’s mouth to food, focusing solely on spiritual nourishment. It involves drinking water or fresh juices to maintain physical strength while dedicating oneself entirely to spiritual reflection and connection.
Commitment to a true fast can open pathways to deeper spiritual insights and heightened faith, moving beyond superficial sacrifices to genuine spiritual discipline.
3 – Fasting: A Path to True Humility
Fasting is a profound path to humility; a state greatly favored in spiritual growth. Psalms 35:13 depicts fasting as a physical and deep spiritual exercise that humbles the soul. It strips away the superficial layers of our daily lives, revealing our raw, unfiltered selves.
This process highlights our utter dependence on God, aligning us with the Biblical truth that humility is not about external appearances or social status but a genuine leaning on and trust in God’s guidance.
In a world where food often fills emotional voids and acts as a social centerpiece, fasting removes these distractions, exposing the emptiness they mask. The initial loneliness and vulnerability one might feel during fasting are not signs of weakness but opportunities for deeper spiritual connection. In these moments of apparent desolation, we truly learn to depend on Jesus, understanding that He alone can satisfy our deepest needs and desires.
Fasting leads to a genuine experience of humility, opening us to God’s abundant grace. As the Bible states, God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Through fasting, we experience our limitations and inadequacies firsthand, recognizing that our strength and fulfillment come solely from God. This newfound humility makes us receptive to the blessings and grace God generously bestows upon those who earnestly seek Him with a humble heart.
Fasting transforms us spiritually and acts as a powerful catalyst for divine visitations. In Acts 10:30-31, Cornelius’ experience illustrates this vividly. His fasting and prayer led to a remarkable encounter with an angel, highlighting the direct connection between fasting and heightened spiritual sensitivity. When we fast, it’s as if we’re polishing a spiritual antenna, making us more attuned to God’s presence and the supernatural realm. For anyone yearning for a deeper spiritual experience or a fresh encounter with the divine, fasting can be a key that unlocks these profound moments.
5 – Fasting as a Conduit for Divine Communication
In Acts 13:1-3, the story of the church at Antioch vividly demonstrates how fasting can facilitate direct communication from the Holy Spirit. Fasting isn’t about God speaking more frequently; instead, it’s about us becoming better listeners.
By fasting, we clear the mental and spiritual clutter, tuning our “spiritual satellite dish” to receive God’s voice more clearly. This heightened spiritual sensitivity allows us to grasp His guidance and wisdom more acutely, giving us the direction and assurance we often seek.
Fasting can often feel like a journey through spiritual isolation, where one feels disconnected from the mundane and deeply in tune with the divine. In these moments of seeming loneliness, we find a unique connection with Jesus, our High Priest, who understands and empathizes with our struggles. This profound experience can lead to spiritual revelations and insights, making us more receptive to God’s voice and direction.
Fasting purifies and humbles us and acts as a catalyst for receiving specific guidance from the Holy Spirit. The clarity and peace derived from receiving a ‘word of the Lord’ during fasting can be life-changing. It dispels anxiety and worry, providing a solid foundation of faith and trust in God’s plans. As seen in the lives of Barnabas and Saul, fasting accompanied by prayer can lead to clear divine directives, setting us on the path God has designed for us.
Take a bold step, commit to fasting, and see what God does in and through your life.
God, help me to deny my flesh to seek and encounter you in a fresh way. Give me the strength to say no to those things that distract me from spending time with you, worshiping you, and listening to You speak. I surrender spirit, soul, and body to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.