Ever since I became a Christian over 30 years ago, I have been practicing fasting. I am writing on this subject because I believe biblical fasting can revolutionize the average Christian’s life. To do justice to this subject is beyond the scope of a blog post, so I’ll just quickly address the subject.
Most people know that the term “fast” means to partially or totally abstain from food for some period of time. Sometimes, for instance, a doctor will require you to fast for 12 or 24 hours prior to certain tests or medical procedures. But fasting from a biblical standpoint is much more than denying oneself food for a period of time. Let me share with you three important spiritual reasons why Christians should fast.
One, fasting is an effective means of invoking divine intervention in times of desperation. Such times may be occasioned by extreme financial emergencies or terminal illness. For instance, Jonah the prophet told the people of Nineveh that in 40 days God was going to destroy the city because of the wickedness there. Hearing that, “The people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast….” (Jonah 3:5). Plus, they turned from their evil.
And when “God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way,” He changed His mind regarding the destruction He had purposed against Nineveh (verse 10).
Two, fasting increases our spiritual authority. On more than one occasion, God has used me to supernaturally touch another person’s life while I was praying and fasting. Consider the time when Jesus was on the mountain praying and a man brought his son who needed to be delivered from a demonic stronghold. The disciples tried to cast out the demon but could not.
When Jesus came down from the mountain, He cast out the demon. The disciples wanted to know why they could not do the same. Jesus gave them two reasons for their lack of success. One, “Because of your unbelief” (Matthew 17:20). Two, He said, “This kind goes not out but by prayer and fasting” (verse 21).
This brings us to two very important points about fasting. One, note that not only did the people of Nineveh fast, but also they turned away from their evil. The point is that biblical fasting must include abstinence from iniquity and illicit pleasures as well as abstinence from food. Two, note that Jesus referred to prayer in connection with fasting. So putting it all together, biblical fasting must be coupled with prayer and our turning away from evil, if it is to be effective.
Finally, Jesus said we should not advertise it when we fast but fasting should be a secret between us and God. “And your father, which sees in secret shall reward you openly” (Matthew 6:18)! So that’s my third reason why Christians should commit to biblical fasting. God in turn will reward us openly.