Immediately after filling Jesus, the Holy Spirit led him into the wilderness to fast and pray. Fasting, as a biblical discipline, is practiced primarily to increase faith (or dissolve unbelief, see Mark 9:29), and is mentioned repeatedly in scripture for that reason.
When fasting is ignored, a great disservice is done. Since our battle is against principalities, powers and spiritual wickedness, we need every spiritual weapon offered to us. The amount of scriptural evidence for fasting should convince Christians everywhere to practice it.
I have encouraged you in previous posts to allow the word of God to wash away all of your doubts. But now, also let the word of God completely transform your view of things. We see men, and the effect of their unbelief as sin dictates their actions. But we need to see beyond that, to spiritual realities. The forces who originated this rebellion against God must be dealt with, we cannot avoid it. And whether or not we understand how power over Satan is obtained through prayer and fasting, we need it, and should trust and follow Jesus’ example and instructions.
In my experience, practicing fasting is far more important that understanding fasting. You don’t need to answer every question regarding how and why. Simply believe, Jesus said. Every example of prayer and fasting in the Bible demonstrates that faith increases, power increases, and victories are won. And that is all you need to know.
It should be acknowledged that fasting is easy for some individuals, difficult for others, impossible for some people, and also impossible in certain circumstances. No one should ever be proud of their ease, or embarrassed by their struggle when fasting. Neither should anyone feel guilty if they simply cannot fast. Although it is very valuable, fasting is not obligatory. God gives different abilities to each of us, and His plan includes times and seasons for everything. And fasting has absolutely nothing to do with punishing or buffeting the flesh, there is enough adversity in everyday life for that.
So, learning to fast one meal or two in the beginning, and extending the length of time as spiritual hunger increases is recommended. Keep in mind that God is more than patient while we learn, and if we think we have mastered anything, we have not. God looks on the heart, sees our spiritual hunger, and guides us every step of the way. Learning the faith building, power producing practice of fasting is no exception.
Fasting is by definition, “to not eat food,” and there are two main types of fasting in the bible.
- A Public or Proclaimed Fast called for in times of national or spiritual crisis and entered into by the entire, repentant, congregation.
- A Personal Fast performed simply out of an individual’s hunger for God, with the power obtained having a great variety of personal and corporate manifestations.
Then there are three methods of fasting.
- Partial fast – John Wesley (for example) would eat nothing but bread for various periods of time. In captivity, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego ate only pulse and water. At the end, the king of Babylon “found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” There are no health concerns restricting the length of a partial fast.
- Normal fast – Luke 4:2 “And in those days he did eat nothing.” Jesus had no solid (or liquid) food, only water. A normal fast should not extend beyond 21 days (the time when excess fatty deposits are all used up and the body starts to convert protein and muscle, harming the body).
- Absolute Fast – In the Book of Ester they fasted from food and water for three days. An absolute fast should never extend beyond three days.
Although Moses, Elijah and Jesus experienced miraculous 40 day fasts in the bible, a normal fast should never extend beyond 21 days.
Fasting, like praying and giving, should be a private matter between you and God. (Matthew 6:18)
A highly regarded, expert resource for biblical fasting is Arthur Wallis’ book, “God’s Chosen Fast.”
And an excellent video teaching is available at http://media3c.tscnyc.ws/2016/04/10s2/20160410s2.mp4
Fast and pray… you will not be disappointed.