The word ‘fasting’ in Hebrew is derived from the root word i.e same as hunger and in Greek(New Testament)means from the lack of food,or voluntary and religious.
We see fasting as a part of almost every community in the world (any religion or caste).But Bible describes the power and essence of fasting in one’s life.Many famous people of God have said many great things about various topics in Bible.One of the famous quotes about fasting is:-
The abstinence is not to be an end in itself but rather for the purpose of being separated to the Lord and to concentrate on godliness. This kind of fasting reduces the influence of our self-will and invites the Holy Spirit to do a more intense work in us. – Williams Thrasher, Professor of Theology and Author
Yes Biblically speaking fasting is not to change God but ourselves first.There are various reasons men and women of God fasted in Bible on various occasions.
A fast is not a hunger strike. Fasting submits to God’s commands. A hunger strike makes God submit to our demands. ~ Ed Cole, Founder, Christian Men’s Network
My friends in Bible we study people keeping fast for one day,three days,21 days,40 days and so on.Fasting alone is not enough but Bible time and again reiterates about combination of Fasting and Prayer.Fasting is a vital Spiritual tool to get a breakthrough in various aspects of life.But there are various features of True Biblical fast.Let us meditate on some facets:-
Fasting to Be Seen Only by God
Matthew 6:16-18- “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.”
Yes as the above verses states,Lord JESUS CHRIST Himself said that our outward appearance should not reflect the fasting we do but the fasting is a secret offering to God.It is a process of self denial.Then the above verse talks about the oil on our head,yes the oil is literal in sense but Spiritually it means that the fasting in secret should result in descending of Anointing on us.If The HOLY SPIRIT does not approve of the fast then its of no use.The fast is not for a public display or show but its in secret (when done individually) .Lord JESUS CHRIST when HE fasted in Matthew 4 (also in Luke 4),HE went alone into the wilderness.It was in Secret(between JESUS AND GOD THE FATHER).Our reward is from Heavenly Father and above all in Heaven.God does reward us here on earth but our eyes should be transfixed on Heavenly things(Colossians 3:1,2).
To Humble ourselves
2 Chronicles 7:14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
As the above verse states the fasting that God desires is that HIS people will humble themselves and pray and then seek HIS face and turn from wickedness(Repent).So if we want God to hear us,the pre-condition is Humbleness.If we think that we are fasting and it will be counted as our Righteousness then we are mistaken.Fasting of food means that giving priority to God then our fleshly appetite i.e. we are hungry for God more than for earthly food.Bible says in Matthew 4:4
But he answered, “It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
It is the word of God that sustains us Spiritually as well as in this world.If we want Revival in our land and in our individual lives we must humble ourselves at the feet of Lord JESUS CHRIST.We cannot boast about fasting that we do or the tithes and offerings that we give.Our praise must come from God and not depend on man.
“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.”
We cannot bank upon our achievements(Righteousness)before God.Let us humbly seek the Lord JESUS CHRIST.
Fasting That Pleases GOD
Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 “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?
7 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?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am…’
As the above verses state that even if we fast and also oppress the poor then it doesn’t please the Lord.Man looks at the face but God looks at the heart.Hospitality is a part of Christian life.Lord JESUS came to serve not to be served.If we see anyone in genuine need,we must try our level best to help that person in need.Galatians 6:2 says that we should bear one another’s burden.Lord JESUS took our burden and teaches us to do the same.It is a kind of fasting in the sight of the Lord.It is another part of self denial.
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.
Lord commissions us and we are placed in our right calling,path and direction as we fast and pray.My friends if we really want direction for the ministry and the work of the Lord,fasting with Prayer does help us to get the Word of thee Lord for our lives.It is important to set a separate time of consecration before the Lord for perfect guidance.
“…However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
The combination of fasting and prayer does increase the level of power at Spiritual level.Lord has given us the authority but Lord wants us to be strong in power(Ephesians 6:10).Some people fast and gather for gossiping or fast and watch television or fast and go to work,there is everything but no prayer.Certain demons like those causing critical diseases are expelled out by fasting and prayer only as mentioned in this chapter of Matthew 17.Prayer with fasting is essence of Spiritual power.
Luke 4:14 says
Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region.
Lord JESUS CHRIST returned in the power of the Spirit(only after fasting and prayer).
Fasting is abstaining from anything that hinders prayer.. ~ Andrew Bonar, Minister, Free Church of Scotland
The above statement is very significant and has a deep meaning.If we fast and don’t focus on prayer then it is more of dieting.
Under the guidance of the HOLY SPIRIT
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.
It is important to fast under the leading of the HOLY SPIRIT.Lord JESUS waited for that moment that when the Holy Spirit will lead and guide HIM to fast in wilderness.We know during that period how JESUS was tempted by the devil thrice but Lord JESUS came out victoriously after 40 days and the Angels attended HIM.We may decide to fast on our own but we will certainly face hindrances in Prayer along with fasting.So we must wait at the feet of our Lord JESUS CHRIST to take every step.