Summary: One of the most powerful weapons of spiritual warfare that God has given to His children is fasting ... it will highly strengthen you spiritually. It is being hungry for God and feasting in the Holy Spirit leading to a REVIVAL.
Opening illustration: A priest and a rabbi are discussing the pros and cons of their various faiths, and inevitably the discussion turns to repentance. The rabbi explains Yom Kippur, the solemn Day of Atonement, a day of fasting and penitence, while the priest tells him all about Lent, and its 40 days of self-denial and absolution from sins. After the discussion ends, the rabbi goes home to tell his wife about the conversation, and they discuss the merits of Lent versus Yom Kippur. She turns her head and laughs. The rabbi says, "What’s so funny, dear?" Her response, "40 days of Lent - one day of Yom Kippur...so, even when it comes to sin, the gentiles pay retail....."
Introduction: Biblical fasting is a spiritual discipline which was encouraged by Jesus, Himself, while He was on earth. When questioned as to why the Pharisees and the disciples of John the Baptist fasted while Jesus disciples did not, Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.” (Matthew 9: 15)
Jesus was teaching that after His departure, the entire dynamic would change and the disciples would need a different type of preparation and provision. Fasting was to be a vital part of this new preparation. The new covenant is based on the truth that we have received everything in Christ, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1: 3)
Fasts may last for varying lengths of time - one day, three days, seven days, and more. We should prayerfully seek the Lord about the length of our fast. Fasting should have an object in mind; we should have a clear idea of the need and purpose. One of the most pressing reasons for Christian fasting may be revival - “Will you not revive us again. . .” (Psalm 85: 6).
Nevertheless, we cooperate with the Spirit in the working out of our salvation with much prayer, meditation, and the study of God’s Word. In addition to all these spiritual practices, Christians should also employ the humbling discipline of fasting.
1. What is fasting?
One of the most powerful weapons of spiritual warfare that God has given to His children is fasting - a way of crucifying the flesh or denying your flesh the basic sustenance of food. Although fasting will weaken you physically, it will highly strengthen you spiritually. It is important to that fasting should be combined note with prayer for utmost effectiveness.
Fasting is a form of spiritual discipline that informs God that you are serious about repentance. Fasting is a significant part of your Christian walk just as praying and reading the Bible is significant. Fasting is for everyone who desires to draw closer to God.
When you fast, you do not have to give up just food; it can be anything of importance to you that you sacrifice by giving it up. Whenever you fast, you need to pray and seek the Lord, otherwise you are just depriving your body of food and not getting in touch with what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you.
2. What is the purpose of fasting?
The prophet Isaiah writes: "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?” Isaiah 58: 6-7
Thus, there are 7 reasons for fasting according to Isaiah 58: 6-7, and they are as follows:
To bring justice
To undo heavy burdens and break the yoke of bondage
To free the oppressed and loose the bands of wickedness
To share food
To provide shelter for the poor
To clothe the naked
To provide for one’s family
3. What purpose is accomplished through fasting?
(a) To Mourn and Repent
"In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.” Daniel 10: 2 & 3 (Also see Esther 4: 3; Isaiah 58: 5; Joel 2: 12-13; Zechariah 7: 5)
(b) To Receive God s Instructions
"So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments." Exodus 34: 28 (Also see Acts 9: 9-12; Acts 13: 2)