Food was an inseparable part of my day as a growing boy. I love it now too, of course, but it was even more necessary at that crucial time in my life, developing a body that would serve me well in adulthood. So, I admit that when fasting season rolled around at church, my eyes usually followed suit. The world and it’s treats gleam with a freshness that brightens as the clock ticks backwards, and so giving up glazed donuts, pizza and popcorn for even a day was excruciating. I would comply though, and join in with the other believers, still not totally understanding what the discipline meant. Then, I experienced a particularly difficult moment in my early 20’s. It broke me emotionally and the gleam of life’s delights began to fade. I cried out to God like never before, tears staining the pages as I searched the scriptures for anything that would ease the pain. It was during that time that I truly discovered the valuable worth of fasting and what it actually was; a desperate plea to the living God for a dynamic intervention, a meeting with His spirit.
Fasting, generally a carefully controlled abstinence from certain foods, drinks, sometimes activities, is not easy. In fact, there are many times in the bible that it carries a sense of mourning. King David refused to eat and prayed to God for mercy on His newborn son for the adultery and murder he had committed beforehand. (2 Samuel 12:9-17) Then there were the citizens of the ancient Mesopotamian city of Ninevah, who the prophet Jonah warned of God’s wrath against their detestable ways. The king called for a fast throughout the city and God stayed His hand. (Jonah 3:3-10) You shouldn’t get the wrong idea though. True, fasting has often been a response to sin, but it can also serve as a refreshing spiritual meal for a hungry soul. Maybe you’re just falling deeper in love with Jesus and desire more of Him?
Then there is the missionary, who may have an additional reason to pursue God in this way; the need for power. You will encounter any number of struggles and stumbling blocks in the field after all, so it would be wise to at least consider a lifestyle of fasting. We see from scripture that many of the most influential servants of God walked this path, and often times right before they began ministry or encountered another level of the Lord’s presence. Moses fasted with God for 40 days and nights before taking a greater role in leadership, revealing to the Israelites the ways and laws of their Creator. The Lord Jesus Himself, displaying just how far He had come to identify with the frailty of humans, fasted for 40 days in the wilderness before returning in the power of the Holy Spirit to preach the good news. (Luke 4:1-14)
So how do we go about fasting? There are many styles, but first let’s get out-of-the-way what fasting isn’t; starving yourself or simply dieting. Neither should you get dehydrated, as your liquid intake should be greater during this period. The idea is to separate yourself from the things that satisfy your carnal nature and fill that void with time spent seeking God. Prayer, reading the bible, listening to Christian music, biblical meditation (pondering the word of God, not emptying your mind as in secular methods); these are all avenues to building up a sensitive spirit into a heavenly powerhouse. Why is this effective? There is so much to cover in answering that question, but for now, just imagine a fortified castle that is approached by two armies, both claiming to be friendly and requesting entry. Yet, only one desires to actually help strengthen the castle, the other? To burn it down.
So wait, are we saying food is evil? No, believe me, I thank the Lord daily for this much appreciated gift. Still, putting it aside for a time brings your temple under your control, not your stomach’s, as you hand the reigns over to God. It shows Him you mean business. The darkness that we actually want to keep out are all of the other things that you will become more sensitive to during this time; gluttony, certain subject matter in TV shows, profane music, conversation that teeters on the edge of perversity, it all has to go and the Holy Spirit has to be allowed to come in.
So, let’s get practical. Fasts range from light meals to no food at all. I know some Christians that fast one half day a week, from 12am to 5pm, subsisting on a bowl of soup, crackers and water. The frequency and details are between you and God. That is, unless it’s a corporate fast. Some churches fast together at the beginning of each new year or for other special occasions, in which case you should talk to your leaders. This type could be several weeks or a full 40 days, a fast of special significance in the biblical sense. The Daniel fast is another option, 21 days of fruits, vegetables and water. No meat, no sweets. (Daniel 9:3, 10:3) The prophet cried out to God in this way and at the end saw a vision of a mighty angel that assured him that he had heard His prayers from the very first day of the fast.
This is a topic that will be revisited again here at Frontiers*nova, but for now check the link below for additional information. I hope it helps, and know that if you ever feel dry inside, as if you’ve reached the barren end of your walk with the Lord, others have been there first and there is more.
o Pastor Jentezen Franklin on fasting-