What is fasting? Basically it is the abstaining from food and sometimes drink for a period of time. Its purpose is to help you focus upon the Lord and strengthen your spiritual muscles. Bill Bright, former President of Campus Crusade, stated that fasting:1
- Is a Biblical way to truly humble oneself in the sight of God (Ezra 8:21).
- Ezra 8:2121There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions.2
- Brings revelation by the Holy Spirit of a person's true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance and change.
- Is a crucial means for personal revival because it brings the inner workings of the Holy Spirit into play in a most unusual, powerful way.
- Helps us better understand the Word of God by making it more meaningful, vital and practical.
- Transforms prayer into a richer and more personal experience.
- Can result in dynamic personal revival--being controlled and led by the Spirit and regaining a strong sense of spiritual determination.
- Can restore the loss of one's first love for our Lord.
Is fasting safe? For most people it is perfectly safe. For some it is not safe, particularly those with certain types of chronic medical conditions. If in doubt consult a doctor.
How do you fast?
Generally a one day solid food fast is a good place to start. Begin by skipping your supper meal and then the following breakfast and lunch. Break your fast with the following supper. Drink plenty of fluids. Some drink fruit juice during their fast, others just water. The point is not how sever you make your fast but rather the giving up of normal meals for a spiritual purpose. During your fast spend the extra time you would have eating in prayer and Bible reading. For more information on fasting I would recommend Bill Bright's book: The Coming Revival: America's Call to Fast, Pray, and "Seek God's Face," (Orlando, FL: New Life Publications, 1995).
Fasting is a private matter and should largely be between you and the Lord.
Matthew 6:16-1816When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that it will not be obvious to men 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.3
- Choose a time.
- Mark 1:35 35Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.1
- Matt 6:6 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.2
- Matthew 6:7 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.3
- Psalm 5:3 3In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.4
- Matthew 6:33 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.5
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.6
- Psalm 34:1-3 1I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. 2My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.3Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.7
- Luke 18:9-14 9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”8
- Luke 18:1-8 1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ ” 6And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”9
- Romans 8:26-27 26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.10
1 Bill Bright, The Coming Revival: America's Call to Fast, Pray, and "Seek God's Face," (Orlando, FL: New Life Publications, 1995), 93-94.
2 Ezra 8:21, NIV.