The beginning of the year is often a time for personal and corporate fasting for Christians across the nation. As we set sail into the new year, fasting is a great opportunity to deny the pleasures of the flesh and pursue the Lord. It’s a time set aside to seek the Father for divine direction and strategy for the next 12 months, to draw closer to Him, to re calibrate and get back into alignment in areas that we have lost focus and for several other personal reasons that are unique to each person.
Fasting is, simply put, abstaining from food to focus on prayer.
I am currently 10 days into a 21 day fast with my church and it has been very rewarding thus far. We usually do the Daniel fast but this year the instructions were a little different, allowing us to be led by our own individual convictions. We are fasting from bread and sweets, and the rest is left up to us. That is not to imply that this year’s fast hasn’t proven to be sacrificial. Our church is in the process of moving to a much bigger campus, so corporately, we have a lot of things up before the Lord –Insert here, the addition of 3 days of ABSOLUTE FASTING.
Yep, that’s right. Added into the 21 days of fasting were THREE days of absolutely nothing but water, leading up to a very important city meeting concerning the building that we are taking ownership of. When I tell you that my flesh died during those 3 days of water only, I mean that it literally died. Departed. Kick the bucket. And I don’t plan to resurrect it. Of course, water fasts are not as extreme or uncommon as I am making them sound. They are done quite often actually. On numerous occasions in the Bible people went days, sometimes weeks, without food and they are very common in the Body of Christ today as well.
Fasting Keeps Us Spiritually Fit
Setting time aside to fast and pray is a great way to stay Spiritually Fit for kingdom purpose. As believers, we should fast regularly. Jesus said, “When you fast…” (Matthew 6:16) Some believe that this isn’t really a command but I see it differently. If Jesus is giving us instruction for “when” we do it, then, we should do it.
When we deny our flesh and fast, our spirit becomes dominant over our flesh. When we live out of our spirit, our minds are alert and focused on the things of God. When we live life led by our flesh, our minds and desires are focused on the things of this world. Fasting and spending time in prayer keeps us kingdom minded. It keeps us in tune with God, His purposes and His plans for our lives.
Fasting Should Not Be Done to Get God to Do What We Want
It’s worth saying that fasting should not be done with the intent of getting God to move on our behalf or for selfish reasons. Fasting is about our hearts. Fasting is about transformation. However, when we yield ourselves completely to Him it definitely gets His attention. So not only does “killing our flesh” through fasting posture us to hear His voice and get clear direction and answers, the act of yielding wholeheartedly activates the Heavens on our behalf. In Isaiah 58, God, through Isaiah, rebukes the people of Zion for their religious and shallow posture while fasting. He then begins to reveal His response to true fasting:
8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
9 Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
(read vs. 10-12 for more of His promises to true worshippers)
So, fasting and praying does move Him, but it should not be approached with the intent of just getting what we want out of Him while lacking any heart connection.
Spiritual Fasting Should Not Be Done for Weight Loss
People also go on extreme or water only fasts for non-spiritual reasons, like weight loss. As a personal trainer, I hear many people talk about taking advantage of their spiritual fast to lose some weight. There’s no denying that weight loss and renewed energy are a nice benefit of fasting (if there is weight that needs to be lost), but this should by no means be your reason for fasting as a believer. If you are thinking about how much weight you will lose, you should really check the motives of your heart. Fasting as a believer should have a spiritual focus only. It is important to not get caught up in the physical benefits of fasting that you end up neglecting the intended spiritual purpose. It then becomes just a diet and not a true fast.
On the other hand, fasting does require self-control and discipline. When done regularly, it can be a great tool in helping us to live a disciplined life when it comes to our health and fitness.
Fasting Should Be Guided by Holy Spirit and Health Should Be Taken Into Consideration
It’s important to note that using extreme measures in fasting just for the sake of being extreme is unwise. Fasting that is too extreme or done for too long a length of time can harm the body. It is important to be led by Holy Spirit and consider the condition of your health when fasting. It is also not a bad idea to consult medical and spiritual counsel before embarking on a fast.
My prayer is that you will live a life out of your spirit, devoting yourself over to fasting and prayer as you are led by the Spirit of God.
May we be spiritually fit for Kingdom Duty!