1. Fasting is going without food, and even sometimes water.
Fasting is not going without social media, TV, or candy. It’s going without food. Denying the flesh of something it needs for survival. (Although some may think we need social media for survival, this is an emotional need, and not something needed for the survival of humanity.)
νηστεία nēsteia Nēsteía —the noun form, means “suffering hunger.”
νηστεύω nēsteuō Nēsteúō — “to be without food.”
νῆστις nēstis Nḗstis —specifically means “one who has not eaten,” “one who is empty of food.”
צוּם tsum Root: to abstain from food.
צוֹם tsom Fasting, declaring a fast, times of fasting.
*certain people with health conditions will need to seek medical advice before fasting
2. Fasting is a right form of humbling ourselves before God.
Our senses are highly attuned to our physical environment. Through fasting we emphasize the spiritual over the physical and we are acknowledging we belong to God first. We are prioritizing God over any other need.
A Hebrew phrase referring to fasting, ʾinna napsho means, “to oppress,” or “to afflict the soul.” That is, to push aside the physical, or a setting aside of the physical needs, so we can chase down God’s Spirit. It’s a recognition that we need God more than we need food.
Fasting reminds us, we do not live by bread alone, Deuteronomy 8:4; Matthew 4:4.
It shows the seriousness of our pursuit of God. We need Him for our very sustenance and survival.
3. Fasting is not for an outward show — It’s to inwardly seek God
Jesus instructs us in Matthew 6:16-18, it’s not a religious show. 16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting (do not brag or boast or make yourself out to be more spiritual than others). Truly, I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, (walk out of your house looking good) 18 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.
4. Fasting is an instrument of spiritual warfare
But this kind (of demon) does not go out except by prayer and fasting, Matthew 17:21AMP. Jesus says, prayer and fasting are necessary in carrying out ministry. But not in the same way it was in the Old Testament.
In the Old Testament fasting was religious work, Is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every [enslaving] yoke? Isaiah 58. In the New Testament, Jesus fully completed this work.
Fasting for us now is about our closeness to Him. When we are close, growing in intimacy, we will carry His Presence in a greater way. His Presence is His power. And He makes great power available to us, James 5:16.
5. Fasting gives the heart time to respond to God.
It’s about our intimacy with Him.
Rarely do we stop and pause in life. We are busy. But God is speaking to us all the time. God is not in the habit of busting through our busyness. When we fast we are hitting the pause button on our busyness, rightly prioritizing God.
God says, Come wait on me.., Expectantly wait for me.., Wait a little longer…, Psalms 5:3, 27:14, 38:15, 119:66; Isaiah 8:17, 58; Micah 7:7; Zephaniah 3:8a; Acts 1:4; Revelation 6:11. These are just a few verses on waiting. God is big on us waiting for Him and getting from Him His instructions, timing, strength, power, and ability. We get everything we need from Him when we wait. And in the wait, we learn the right responses to Him.
6. Have goals for fasting, petition God.
Seek to know God in a deeper experience, a deepening relationship with Him. Seek God’s mind for a particular situation. Ask for prayers to be answered. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct your fasting. Ask, what should I be fasting and praying for?
7. We can ask God critical and life-changing things
For provision and direction. For healing, repentance, and revival. For guidance in decisions and answers to big life questions.
8. Our physical hunger will challenge us to get hungry for God.
We can turn our hunger for food into hunger to see people saved and added to the church, to see revival, for more of God’s presence in our life, for God’s power to be at work in our churches, for God’s Kingdom to be advancing into every sphere of society, for reformation, for breakthrough in the lives of God’s people.
Every time we feel hungry it can be a reminder to pray.
Fasting gives us more time for prayer because we spend a lot time prepping food, eating, and cleaning up.
9. Fasting should never be done out of guilt or condemnation or punishment.
Never fast because of guilt or condemnation. Only use it as a means to joyfully seek God.
Never use fasting as punishment. All the punishment we should have received was poured out on Jesus at the cross. Jesus took care of it all, once and for all.
Fasting is only to be used in the pursuit of God because He loves us so much and dearly wants us to know Him.
10. Some physical/practical things:
Our physical body will get tired. Allow for extra rest/sleep. A fast should be refreshing spiritually and physically.
Physically when we go without food, because we are allowing time for our body to rest, it starts to detoxify itself. We can get a little sick from this, experience headaches, or even flu-like symptoms. Don’t worry it’s a natural result of our bodies pushing toxins out. In medical circles it’s sometimes called a healing sickness, or a healing crisis.
BUT!!! This detox also happens in our spirit. Given time to rest and wait on God, our spirit will detox. God will often bring to our mind wrong thinking, habits, attitudes, people we need to forgive or let go of, areas of pride, etc.
I’m grateful for this process God works into our lives, it grows and matures us.
The closer we walk with God, the more aware we become of these attitudes because when we get close to the Holy One, we are suddenly aware of everything that is not holy (in ourselves, not other people…) and we are reminded of our ongoing and complete dependence on Him: A much greater need than our need for food.