“Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that has changed the course of history. Biblical fasting is abstaining from food (and sometimes water) to humble ourselves and seek God. It is not simply skipping meals. It is the absence of food along with the deliberate and intentional seeking of God.
We may never truly know the full effects of a chosen fast. Fasting is a practice observed in both the Old and the New Testaments, as well as many other world religions.
From the beginning, fasting was a normal part of a relationship with God. Fasting is mentioned over 70 times in the Bible and has always been considered a standard practice for Christians. We don’t fast to manipulate God to “move” on our behalf. We fast to hear God more clearly.
15 Fasts in the Bible
Let’s look at some of the fasts found in the Bible.
- Before Moses received the 10 commandments from God, he fasted and prayed. “Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments” (Exodus 34:28 NIV).
- David, a man after God’s heart and Israel’s greatest king, fasted. “Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. When I weep and fast, they scoff at me” (Psalm 69:10 NLT).
- Daniel, seeking God’s timetable for the return of God’s people from captivity, fasted. He also purposed in his heart to abstain from eating the king’s meat or his wine. “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes” (Daniel 9:3 NKJV).
- Esther called a three-day fast for all the Jews before risking her life to save all the Jews in the kingdom. “Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish’” (Esther 4:15-16 NIV).
- Jehosophat called a national fast when threatened by Edom. “And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord” (2 Chronicles 20:3-4 NKJV).
- Ezra called on the nation to fast before returning to the land. “Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions” (Ezra 8:21 NKJV).
- Joel called a national fast regarding a plague of locusts. “Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord” (Joel 1:14 NIV).
- Before beginning His earthly ministry, Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights. “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry” (Luke 4:1-2 NKJV).
- The New Testament church fasted and prayed. There are a number of examples. This is only one of them. “They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said. Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust” (Acts 14:21-23 NIV).
- Paul fasted following his conversion on the Damascus Road. “And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank” (Acts 9:7 NKJV).
A few modern examples of fasting.
- The pilgrims fasted before disembarking from the Mayflower to rid themselves of anger before getting out of the boats. Then, at the end of the three days, they erected a large wooden cross on the shore and dedicated what would become the United States of America to God.
- The United States’ Founding Fathers called the colonies to fast when they faced times of crisis.
- Abraham Lincoln, on March 30, 1863, in the midst of the terrible war between the states, called for a day of fasting and prayer.
- Jonathan Edwards fasted prior to preaching, “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.”
- Finney would stop a revival meeting when it seemed hearts were cold and call them to prayer’s fasting.
- John Wesley fasted every Friday and, for a time, required all ministers under his supervision to fast Wednesdays and Fridays.
Fasting doesn’t move God. It moves you.
There are many other examples in the Bible and throughout history when humanity has chosen to humble themselves before God with prayer and fasting. Fasting helps to remove the wax from our spiritual ears so that we can hear God clearly.
I don’t know what you’re facing or what struggles you may endure, but I know that God is for you. I know that you are loved immensely and intentionally by the very One that formed you in your mother’s womb. I know that God sees you and cares about what you’re going through.
Satan wants you to blame God. His strategy is to cause you to become so bitter with God that you choose to turn away from God. But what if…instead of getting angry with God, you chose to humble yourself before God? What if you beat the enemy at his game of strategy and chose to fast and pray instead of turning away?
History has proven that there is power when we fast and pray.
If you want to get Paula’s book FASTING MADE SIMPLE to know more about fasting click here!