Fasting - Is Serious Business
CBN.com - People who have willingly chosen to become Jesus disciples are required to partake in the fellowship of Christs sufferings. While we are not meant to nail ourselves on the cross and re-live the suffering by Jesus at Calvary, yet we are asked by God to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. Fasting, from many years even before Christ, was a symbol of a person humbling him or her self to show God that he or she is sincere in seeking Gods blessings. Fasting is serious business, but it can be approached with the wrong motives.
The Holy Bible tells us what false fasting is all about. The Israelites made fasting a ritual and often announced that they were fasting before God. Even though they had done much penance, God was not impressed, as if he didnt even notice it! God replied through the prophet Isaiah in chapter fifty eight, that He hasnt noticed them because they were living for themselves even while they were fasting. They kept right on oppressing their workers, even while they were fasting. God asks, what good is fasting when you keep fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get us anywhere with God. They humbled themselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing their heads like a blade of grass in the wind. They dressed in sackcloth and covered themselves with ashes, but all this is unacceptable to God.
God tells them what true fasting is, that is fasting in order to share with the poor and hungry; to stop oppressing workers and start treating them fairly, giving them what they earn; to cover with sackcloth and ashes so that the needy may be given clothes and not to hide from relatives who need help; to stop fighting with one another and free those who are wrongly imprisoned.
The reasons for fasting still remain, as mentioned by God. We fast with only one motive and that is to seek God. If we are fasting to impress people or as a ritual or a test of will-power this has been and will always remain unacceptable to God. He just wont listen to your pleas and requests.
Different Kinds of Fasts
There are various kinds of fasts:
- the absolute fast, which is without water or food and needs to be approached with careful consideration as you are led by the Holy Spirit;
- the normal fast, which is without food for a limited time -- one day up to seven, and sometimes even forty days, but with water or liquids;
- the partial fast, which is a limited diet like going without tea, coffee, delectable fare, non-vegetarian, breakfast, or any of the meals during the day for a period of time; and
- going without sleep for a night, spending it in prayer.
Fasting needs to be accompanied by prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit. If we make an outward show of fasting, expecting sympathy from people around us, then Jesus says that our motives are not right and it is, in fact, hypocritical and motivated by self-interest. We can go about our daily routine without making a show of fasting and have moments of prayer if our schedule is busy. The idea is not to make an issue about personal fasting, whether with lack of food or lack of sleep, but to go about your daily business with a normal attitude. We are called to fast in secret with a desire to hunger for God and His presence in our lives.
Such a selfless attitude enables our prayers to be heard and answered as well. God sees the sincerity of our heart and He is pleased when our motive is simply to do our best to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Why Should We Fast
There are many reasons why people fast. We have talked about seeking God in our lives. We fast when we have to make an important decision in our lives. Jesus prayed all night going without sleep when He made a selection of the twelve disciples. He denied Himself the normal desire to sleep. Church leaders fast when there is a disciplinary action that needs to be taken within the Body of Christ in a church.
The example we can give is when Joshua had to identify the person who caused the Israelites to be defeated at Ai, when God had assured them victory. Achans sin was discovered to be the reason. But first Joshua and his fellow-leaders rent their clothes and fasted and wept in prayer before the Lord revealed to them the reason for their defeat.
It is the same today. The Body of Christ suffers defeat at the hands of the devil because of hidden and unconfessed sin when we should be leading victorious lives. When the church leaders fast and pray, that church is strong and is able to minister to the needs not just of the church but of the community at large.
We can fast for the nation just as Esther did. She used her authority to call a fast among all the Jews who were facing persecution and even extinction to ensure their and her own survival. She succeeded.
We can do the same today when the Body of Christ fasts for specific nations so that the hand of God moves for that nation rather than against it. Wherever Christians are being persecuted they fast and pray and have victorious testimonies of how they won over the enemies of the Gospel in amazing and incredible ways. In nations where Christians are being persecuted, fasting and prayer, along with the preaching of the Gospel, is causing the number of believers to grow in leaps and bounds so that the authorities and people in power are disturbed and redouble their efforts to persecute Christians. But the church of Christ has grown from strength to strength, and history has enough proof to show it.
When the disciples of Jesus could not rid a boy of the evil spirit that possessed the lad, Jesus commanded the demon to leave, and it obeyed. The disciples asked Jesus why they couldnt remove this particular evil spirit when in Jesus Name other evil spirits had responded to the command issued to them. Jesus replied that this particular evil spirit and its kind obey through fasting and prayer. So when we fast and pray we can bring deliverance in the lives of many people who are possessed by tenacious evil spirits. They will definitely leave and the person will be set free and Jesus will be glorified.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ we encourage you to experience His power through fasting and prayer. You may be a single Christian in your family, but in the privacy of your home, you can achieve much more than people in position and power can ever achieve. We encourage you to fast regularly, not just alone but with like-minded believers as well, making your points of prayer, and you will begin to see the hand of God move mightily in your own life, in your familys life, in your community, in your country, and indeed in world affairs as well!
You can pray this prayer with us.
"Heavenly Father, I come to You in the Name of Jesus, asking You to prepare me as a chosen vessel to fast and intercede.
Let the spirit of intercession be imparted to me so that Your mighty power is shown. Let the Blood of Jesus be put on the mercy seat of my heart as the Spirit of God travails through me. I want to touch Your heart, Father, through prayer and by denying myself in fasting. May I know no other hunger but a hunger and a thirst for the living God. Burden me with Your desire because I do not know how to pray.
Birth in me the desire to pray and fast to achieve mighty things for You. Help me to deny myself and fast. Let my motive to fast and pray be sincere in Your sight.
Remove all the works of the flesh, carnal desires, selfish thoughts from me so that I may be empty before You. Mold and melt me, and break the hardness of my heart so that I can approach You with tears of humility.
Have mercy on me, a sinner. Forgive my every sin and presumption, and make me an instrument of righteousness for the sake of Your dear Son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen."