The term ‘Fasting’ generally refers to a period of abstinence from food for the purpose of engaging in uninterrupted study, prayer and meditation with a clear objective and goal in focus. Why is Fasting Necessary? The scriptures are replete with numerous accounts of remarkable results and dramatic testimonies produced through fasting. As Christians, fasting is one of the godly exercises we should engage in regularly, with the promise of present and eternal benefits. The advantages are numerous, and here are a few:
Through fasting, we can improve our effectiveness in the things of the Spirit. In simple terms, Fasting helps you to tame the flesh and lift the spirit. As Christians, we are required to walk in the Spirit, always. This means to be spirit-controlled and not flesh-controlled. This is important because Rom 8:6 says “…to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” and also in John 6:63 our Lord Jesus said “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing….”.
So how does Fasting help you to tame the flesh and lift the spirit? One of the cravings of the body is food. It is a craving that is connected to the senses. When we fast, we deliberately abstain from food even though our body craves it. We resist the urge to eat thereby improving our mastery over the cravings of the body, and instead focus on activities that build the spirit. Of course, we could engage in activities that build our spirit without abstaining from food, but the abstinence from food adds a level of ‘seriousness‘ and ‘discipline‘ to the exercise.
Fasting helps to sharpen our ability to receive or hear from God. It is like raising a spiritual antenna to pick up the finer signals of the Spirit’s communication. But how does this happen? When we Fast, abstinence from food is a key characteristic but that is not all. The Fasting exercise promotes focus and undivided attention to study of God’s Word and prayer. Too many people when they fast are simply on a hunger strike, they do not eat but they do not pray or meditate on God’s Word either during their fast. In such cases the fast is useless and unproductive spiritually, you might as well not have fasted. There should be a deliberate cessation of all unnecessary activity and a conscious increase in activities that engage the spirit. This helps to unclutter the mind and remove the ‘noise’ or interference that often prevents the hearing of God’s voice.
During a period of Fasting, many have received clear direction and heard the voice of God in a more distinct way than before. Fasting can be a vehicle to effect dramatic and urgent change in things that pertain to us or even in the circumstances of others around us. In James 5:16 (amp) the scriptures assure us that “………………the earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available dynamic in its working.”(Amplified Bible) which means power to effect changes, shift things, re-arrange things in the present or in the future can be produced by you – when you pray a certain way. So how do I ensure my prayer is earnest and heartfelt? When you declare a Fast, you are raising the stakes. It is a declaration of seriousness and urgency in addressing the matter at hand. It helps you to be earnest in your prayers and certainly it will be heartfelt. Your heart is in it to the point that you are giving up eating to focus on the matter at hand.
And when you pray like this, the results are guaranteed! FASTING THE RIGHT WAY! MAKING IT EFFECTIVE….. It is important to note that Fasting is not an effort to change God.
Fasting does not put pressure on God. When we fast, we are the ones that change and we are the beneficiaries of the Fast. Our Fasting does not change God for the scriptures say in Mal 3:6 “….I am the Lord, I change not…” So with this in focus, here are steps that can make our Fasting more effective; Have a clear objective
in focus – what are your expectations from this Fast? The period of Fasting must include regular intervals of prayer, study and meditation on the Word. Having a clear focus and expectation will help guide your prayer, study and meditation time. Minimize unnecessary activity or distractions during the Fasting period. Though solitude may not always be achievable, strive to be ‘alone’ with the Spirit as much as possible. And while there is no single prescription for the length of a Fast, it should be
sufficiently long to be effective. It ought to be long enough to span several normal eating periods. And you should be hungry at some point during the Fast. But this is not a reason to break it but rather to endure and continue! Remember, part of the training of the Fast is to curb the craving of the flesh and maintain focus on the spirit.
WHO SHOULD FAST, AND WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO FAST? It is quite common for people to Fast when they are in dire need or in trouble, but you don’t need to be in trouble or in a messy situation to be compelled to Fast. We can Fast to improve our spiritual acumen, stay ahead of situations, make general improvements in our life and to prepare for a greater future. And while anyone can Fast at anytime, there are special times when the Spirit of God leads us to Fast. These are special
Fasting sessions not to be missed because they bear an accuracy and grace that is unusual. The advantages of Fasting are numerous, and every Christian should benefit from it. When we fast biblically, according to the fast The LORD has chosen, Isaiah 58 (please read all of it) says we can expect the following results:
Bands of wickedness are broken
Heavy burdens are lifted
The oppressed go free
Health Springs forth speedily
The glory of the Lord protects us
The Lord guides us continually