According to the Words of Jesus, it is the duty of every disciple, every believer, to fast. When addressing the Pharisees as to why His disciples did not fast, Jesus replied, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days.” Luke 5:34-35.
Fasting is expected of believers
In the Beatitudes, and notably in Matthew 6, Jesus provided the pattern by which each of us is to live as a child of God. That pattern specifically addressed three duties of a Christian: Giving, Praying and Fasting. Jesus said, “When you give”... “And when you pray”...“And when you fast.” He made it clear that fasting, like giving and praying, was a normal part of Christian life. As much attention should be given to fasting as is given to giving and to praying.
Have you lost the edge in your spiritual life?
Could we be missing our greatest breakthroughs because we fail to fast? Has your passion for the Lord waned from when you were first born-again? Does it feel as if you have lost steam since the last conference or revival meeting you attended? Has “life” begun to wear you down to the point that serving the Lord has become just one more appointment to keep on the weekly calendar, falling somewhere between work, meals, and getting the kids to school?
Have you grown weary of the same old routine at work? Do you find yourself flaring up in your relationships with family and friends more readily? More to the point, have you simply grown dull? Every believer loses the edge in his or her life from time to time. Trudging on in our own strength through our daily routines can make us increasingly dull, ineffective, and even dangerous. Individuals, ministries, and entire churches can lose the edge. You regain the edge in your life in much the same way that you regain the edge on an ax - by stopping what you are doing and carefully applying the right tools - such as prayer and fasting.
Sharpening your ax
Declaring a spiritual fast is a means of interrupting the dulling effects of life’s routines. Fasting is taking time to refocus, preparing the way for you to accomplish so much more through the power of the Holy Spirit than you could accomplish through your own limited strength. Fasting, prayer, and time reading God’s Word work together just like the woodsman’s tools used to sharpen an ax.
Your stomach has been in charge since the Garden of Eden. The Bible records, “The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.
The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil...And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’”
Giving into fleshly temptation
Seems straightforward enough, right? But the serpent was cunning, and convinced Eve she should eat from the forbidden tree, assuring her that she would not die. “So when she saw that the tree was good for food...she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” With that one meal, Adam and Eve immediately went from peacefully enjoying God’s presence in the cool of the garden to fearfully hiding from His presence among the trees of the garden (see Genesis 2 and 3).
Suffering the consequences
They literally ate themselves out of house and home. Their stomachs were temporarily satisfied, but by eating the fruit of ‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ they literally ate themselves out of the will of God for their lives - out of God’s provision and plan...and out of His magnificent presence. And we still suffer the consequences of their appetites today.
Develop a lifestyle of prayer and fasting. Fasting is a choice
I chose to develop a lifestyle of prayer and fasting over twenty-five years ago, and I do not know of anything that has been more powerful in my Christian life. I am convinced that fasting is a gateway through which God releases His supernatural power into our lives. The choice is ours: we can either open that gateway or ignore it and keep on going in our routines.
Fasting is a short season that releases long-term rewards. It is like taking the time to sharpen your ax before cutting down a tree. The problem for so many people and churches today is dull axes. People have lost the edge in their lives, their homes, their marriages, and their commitment to the Lord.
Week after week we may stand in church singing the songs and lifting our hands, but there is no edge to our worship. There is no edge to the preaching. It has become just dull routine and ritual.
Let crisis drive you to your knees
Let the crisis drive you to your knees in a season of prayer and fasting. Go back to the place where the edge was lost. Was it through sin that you lost your passion for God and need to confess this? Go back to that place and get it under the Blood of Jesus. The altar is not just for those coming to the Lord for the first time.
The altar is a place to get free from that thing that weighs you down and drowns out your fiery passion for God. Alterations are made at the altar. We alter the direction we have been walking by coming under God’s direction.
Jesus fasted, so should we
Once you make that decision to fast, even if it’s just for a day, God sees the desire of your heart. He will provide you with the grace to endure and see the breakthroughs you need come to pass. We only have one life to give to God; let’s get control of our bodies and go for God with the best we have!
Immediately following His baptism, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert on a forty-day fast. If the Son of God fasted, and He is our example, I cannot say often enough how crucial the discipline of fasting and prayer must be to the Christian life.
On one of my first trips to Israel I had the opportunity to record a message while standing in front of a vast stretch of wilderness .
Though I was only at that location for a little while, I thought about how brutal the conditions in that land must have been. It is a place of extremes, very dry and hot during the day but cold at night.
We are not called to comfort
Most of us want our walk with God to be mild and comfortable. Be careful: the alternative to the extremes is lukewarm, and Jesus is not a fan of lukewarm. There is a place of power and anointing that we can never experience without being led into the wilderness, coming away from everyone and everything else to seek God in fasting and prayer.
I want to encourage you that it is time to stop striving in your own strength and press in to see what He has for you in the wilderness. Jesus fasted and was victorious over the temptations of the devil at the end of that gruelling wilderness fast. Luke tells us that after the fast, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region” Luke 4:14.
Are you willing?
The world needs a people of God who walk in the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit that pulls down strongholds and sets the captives free! But there are no “people of God” without there first being a willing “person of God.” If you are tired of dull church, if you are tired of a cold, dry, barren relationship with Jesus, it is time to regain the edge. It is time to start a spiritual fast.
The Bible declares that “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way” Ps 37:23. I believe God is going to establish who He is in your life again, afresh and anew. The victory that Jesus won against the devil when He fasted forty days established a pattern for you and me to follow. Fasting is not a requirement. Fasting is a choice. Whenever a believer chooses to begin a spiritual fast for one day or for several days, he or she makes a choice to break out of the routine in order to draw closer to God.
Cleanse your spirit and body
Sometimes when you are on a fast you cannot help but think about what you will eat when the fast is over. It may be a short fast or a longer one, but I have learned how vital that season can be. Apart from the spiritual breakthrough, a Biblical fast also offers many physical health benefits.
It gives the body an opportunity to cleanse itself of toxins, to become renewed and restored. Many medical doctors support the healing benefits of a fast. But remember, fasting without prayer is simply a diet.
Fasting cleans out the trash
If you have lost your edge because of sin, it is time to get alone with God. Fasting and prayer can help you sever addictions to tobacco, drugs, alcohol, pornography. Fasting and prayer help you cut out the double life, the secret sins that you believe are hidden from everyone else - but are not hidden from God. Sin will clog the pipeline of all future blessings. Fasting makes you sensitive to the “trash” that tries to invade your life. Fasting doesn’t just pertain to what you put in your stomach, but what you feed your soul and spirit as well.
The Bible says, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” 1 Cor 6:19–20.
Start slowly and you will build up to longer periods of fasting
Just as fasting cleanses your physical body of trash - it cleanses you spiritually as well. Peter warned, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” 1 Pet 5:8.
Once you have succeeded at your first one-day fast, the prospect of a three-day fast becomes far less daunting because your confidence level is higher. Before long, completing a three-day fast gives you confidence to endure longer fasts as God leads.
Remember, fasting is not a requirement - it is a choice. Fasting does not guarantee your salvation. Fasting does not make you better than anyone else, nor does it make you some kind of religious freak. Choosing to fast is choosing to come away from the routine and wait upon the Lord with greater intensity, seeking His face and His presence in a deeper way. The anointing of God is precious and should not be handled as a light thing. Seasons of fasting and prayer help you get your sensitivity back to the things of God.
Make up your mind to fast
Time spent in fasting and prayer builds confidence and helps you develop the determination necessary to run your race with endurance. Don’t delay, make up your mind to fast and then do it!