Benefits of Fasting
Fasting in the Bible refers to when followers of Jesus
abstain from eating food altogether or certain types of food so that they
can focus on spending some intentional time with the Lord's they seek
His guidance or seek a special word
of instruction or intervention from Him.
Here are 4 Keys that we learn from the biblical examples of fasting
that can help us in our walk with the Lord.
When Daniel was taken into captivity in Babylon,
he was chosen as one of the young men who had the most potential in helping the king of Babylon.
These men were to be fed the same type of food that the king ate.
Daniel and three of his friends asked to not eat that food but instead to be fed
"nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink" (Daniel 1:12, NIV).
Daniel and his friends ate that diet for ten days.
After that time, they looked better and more
nourished than the young men eating the king's food.
Daniel's motivation was to not be defiled by the king's food and wine.
God honored Daniel's heart and obedience and blessed his health during the fast.
Later, in preparation to receive a vision and word from the Lord, Daniel said:
"I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips;
and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over" (Daniel 10:3, NIV).
Since Daniel prepared his heart faithfully,
God showed him a great vision of what God was going to do.
Daniel teaches us that fasting prepares our heart to hear from God
and be used by God in mighty ways.
Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights just before His public ministry started.
At the end of the forty days, Satan came and unsuccessfully tempted Jesus to sin.
The fast made Jesus physically hungry and weak:
"After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry" (Matthew 4:2, NIV).
Yet, it also made Jesus spiritually strong to resist temptation and walk in obedience to His Father.
This fast launched Jesus into a public ministry where He revealed Himself to be the Messiah.
Followers of Jesus
Christians sometimes ask if they must fast. During a growing walk with the Lord,
Christians at various times will be called to fast.
When preaching the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:
"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do... But, when you fast,
put oil on your head and wash your face,
so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father,
who is unseen; and your Father,
who sees what is done in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:16-18, NIV).
Jesus said "when you fast" not "if you fast."
Jesus expected growing Christians to go through seasons of
denying ourselves certain foods,
or food altogether so that we focus on our relationship with Christ
and grow closer to the Lord.
Here are some other examples from the Bible of people who fasted to draw near to God:
--Moses fasted before receiving the Ten Commandments. (Deuteronomy 9:9-18)
(No food or water for 40 days -miraculous fast)
--David fasted while praying for his newborn son's illness. (2 Samuel 12:1-23)
(Ate no food)
--Elijah fasted while escaping Jezebel. (1 Kings 19:4-8)
(Travelled 40 days on the strength of the food God had provided.)
--Ezra fasted while mourning over the sin of the people. (Ezra 10:6-17)
(Ate no food and drink no water.)
--Esther fasted with the people to call out to God to save the Jews. (Esther 4:15-17)
(Do not eat or drink for 3 days)
--Darius fasted for Daniel's safety while Daniel was in the lion's den. (Daniel 6:18-23)
(Ate no food)
--Paul (Saul at the time) fasted after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus. (Acts 9:1-9)
(Did not eat or drink anything.)
--Jesus: Did not eat food, drink only water for 40 days Matt. 4
--Church Elders in Antioch fasted before sending out missionaries. (Acts 13:1-3)
Christians should be sensitive to the call to fast, especially when approaching the Lord about a big call or decision to be made or when launching a new ministry or new direction in their lives. Use the time away from food to spend more time earnestly seeking God's call, God's power, and God's blessing.
Jesus Bless You All