Fasting is a critical part of the walk of a Christian. However, many Christians have no clue just how important it actually is. I plan on teaching and sharing what I know about fasting using scripture to explain it. Therefore, I’ll first start with the basics: What is fasting?
All scriptures are taken from NKJV unless otherwise noted.
“Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly;
Gather the elders
And all the inhabitants of the land
Into the house of the Lord your God,
And cry out to the Lord.”
– Joel 1:14
What Is Fasting?
Fasting is deliberately going without food (and sometimes liquids) for spiritual purposes. Usually, fasting does not include abstaining from fluids (which is very dangerous). However, there are a few occasions in the Bible where people abstained from water as well as food.
“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.”
– Matthew 6:16
When Jesus was teaching His disciples, He didn’t say if you fast. He said when you fast. Therefore, it’s safe to say that Jesus expects us to fast.
Fasting should be a normal part of every believer’s life, just like praying. There are many spiritual and health benefits to fasting. People can fast individually or in a group setting.
Also, there may be times when the Holy Spirit specifically leads us to fast and pray for a selected period of time for special occasions.
John Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, regularly fasted every week on Wednesday and Friday until 4 PM. In American history, presidents and congressmen have agreed to declare days of fasting and prayer for specific reasons.
The three fasts proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln were on:
- September 26, 1861
- April 30, 1863
- August 4, 1864
Fasting Is A Spiritual Weapon
The Bible shares many stories with us that include using fasting, praying, and mourning together as spiritual weapons against the forces of darkness.
Jehoshaphat, king of Judah in 2 Chronicles chapter 20, used fasting as a weapon. Armies from Ammon, Mount Seir, and Moab were coming to invade his kingdom. In response to their threat, he cried out to God.
“And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.”
– 2 Chronicles 20:1-3
Every person in Judah collectively got together and fasted, including children (verse 13). They were looking toward God for some sort of divine intervention. While Jehoshaphat was crying out to God in prayer, the Spirit of the Lord fell upon Jahaziel.
“Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
– 1 Chronicles 20:14-17
When Jehoshaphat heard this response to his prayer from God, he continued to pray, worship, and praise God. He appointed singers to sing praises to God. Then, God stepped in.
“Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.
So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.”
– 2 Chronicles 20:22-24
The invaders turned on one another and no one survived. The people of Judah didn’t have to do anything for their victory. They had three full days of collecting spoil from the dead bodies.
We should learn from this and understand that God is the one who fights our battles, but we have to do our part.
To learn more about fasting, click here.
What is fasting?
Fasting is deliberately going without food (and sometimes liquids) for spiritual purposes. Just like prayer, fasting should be a normal part of a Christian’s walk with God. Likewise, there will be times God leads us to fast collectively as a unit for the purposes of His Kingdom.
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