Summary: There is a difference between Christians who pray and Christians who do not pray. There is also a difference between Christians who pray and Christians who fast and pray.
“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” – Matthew 6:16-18
Fasting has been described as sacrificial prayer and is one of the most powerful weapons of spiritual warfare that God has given to His children.
According to the Bible, fasting is not a dieting process but a decision to abstain from food in order to achieve spiritual strength, answers, and direction.
Fasting is abstinence from food for a limited period of time and is observed for spiritual purposes. By fasting, the believer chooses to do without food for a set time. Food is one of the great blessings of God in our lives and fasting is a way of crucifying the flesh.
Biblical fasting, unlike fasting for medical or health reasons, must be done with an attitude of seriousness, humility, and sincerity. It is not necessary for others to know we are fasting, because it is directed towards God.
Christians should fast
Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast? “And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.” – Matthew 9:14-15
Fasting throughout history
There are a few individuals whose fasts are recorded in the Bible:
* Moses fasted for 40 days
* Jesus fasted for 40 days
* Elijah fasted for 40 days
* Daniel fasted for 21 days
* David fasted for 7 days
* Esther fasted for 3 days
* Paul fasted for 3 days
The purpose of fasting
When we study Scripture, we find many reasons why people fasted.
1 Samuel 7:3;6 - “Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines. “So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured it out before the LORD. And they fasted that day, and said there, “We have sinned against the LORD." And Samuel judged the children of Israel at Mizpah.”
2. Serious tragedy
Judges 20:26 - Then all the children of Israel, that is, all the people, went up and came to the house of God and wept. They sat there before the LORD and fasted that day until evening; and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.
3. For salvation from the enemy
2 Chronicles 20:1-3 - It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar" (which is En Gedi). And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
4. To mourn
Daniel 10:2-3 - In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
5. For supernatural revelation
Exodus 34:28 - And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
6. Before ordaining ministers
Acts 14:23 - So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
7. For humility
Ezra 8:21 - Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions.
8. To avert judgment from the Lord
Jonah 3:6-10 - Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish? Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.