What is Fasting? Fasting is the choice to abstain from food and/or water for a certain amount of time in order to humble ourselves before God and seek Him. Throughout the Bible, we see people fasting. For example, the 10th day of the 7th month of each year was the Day of Atonement (redemption) for the Jews. This day was a sabbath day for them : they rest, don’t do any work and fast from the sunset of the 10th day to the sunset of the 11th day (Lev. 16/29 & Lev. 23/26-33). Apart from that Jewish Day of Atonement during which fasting was compulsory, there is no clear obligation to fast in the Bible. However, Jesus expected his followers (Christians) to fast when He said in Mat 6/16-18, “When you fast, anoint your head, wash your face…”. Below, we will try to answer some questions about Fasting that our readers commonly ask us.
1- FASTING : who fasted the most in the Bible?
There are three (3) persons recorded in the Bible who fasted most. They went without food and water for 40 days and 40 nights.
- Our Lord Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights before He began His earthly Ministry (Matt 4/1-17),
- Moses in the presence of God went 40 days and 40 nights without food and water in order to receive the 10 Commandments from God (Deut 9/9),
- The prophet Elijah also went without food and water for 40 days and 40 nights when he was fleeing before the evil queen Jezebel and arrived at Mount Sinai or Horeb (1Kings 19/8).
These are according to our knowledge, the three persons who fasted most in the Bible. After the departure of Jesus in heaven, the apostles where fasting and praying a lot but there is no record of any of them who fasted 40 days and 40 nights, though Apostle Paul said he was constantly in labors, tumults, sleeplessness, stripes, nakedness, and fastings, etc. (2Co 6/5 & 2Co 11/27).Learn How to Read, Study & Meditate the Bible (Download this ebook Now) !
2- Why did Jesus fast knowing that he was God?
Though He was God, our Lord Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights for two main reasons :
- Apparent reason : Jesus was 100% man and 100% God. On earth, He was sent by the Father to fulfill a mission : save the lost (all human being) by dying at the cross for us. And He fulfilled this mission through a Ministry as a man, and not as God. Hebrews 4/15b said as a man, He was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. This means that as a perfect man, He needed God guidance & wisdom and an overall spiritual clarity. Jesus needed to be empowered and enlightened by the Father before He can start His Ministry. That is why He fasted that much to deepen His relationship with God the Father in order to be dependent on God and be able to face accordingly the temptations and evil spirits that will oppose Him.
- Hidden reason : Jesus fasted to set an example for us. Apostle Paul said “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1Co 11/1). In fact, in all things, the Christians must imitate Christ, our perfect example. So if we’re imitators of Christ, would we pray and fast nowadays if we have never seen Him doing so? No!!! That’s why He fasted to set an example for us.
According to us, these are the two main reasons why our Lord Jesus fasted, and fasted that much.Learn How to Read, Study & Meditate the Bible (Download this ebook Now) !
3- WHY SHOULD WE FAST TODAY?
We should fast today for several reasons. Below are few of them :
- To seek God’s Guidance & Wisdom : In the Church of Antioch when the Prophets & Teachers ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away”. (Acts 12/2-3, Acts 13/2-4, Acts 14/23). In the early Church, prayers and fasting were constantly used by the apostles and believers to seek God’s Guidance & Wisdom, and we should do the same nowadays.
- To express Griefs : Nehemiah mourned, fasted and prayed when he learnt that Jerusalem wall had been broken down, leaving the Israelite disgraced and completely vulnerable (Nehemiah 1/1-4). Read also 2Sa 1/1-12 to know what happened after the death of Saul, the first King of Israel.
- To seek Safety, Deliverance & Protection : Ezra declared a corporate fast for a safety journey for the Israelite as they were leaving Babylon (captivity place) for Jerusalem (Ezra 8/21-23). Read also how God miraculously delivered the Jews in Susa (Persia) in the time of queen Esther (Esther 4/16). Read also 2Chr 20/3. You should fast and pray when you need a special safety, protection and deliverance of any kind.
- To repent and seek God’s grace & mercy. We can repent for myriads of reasons : repentance from imminent destruction (Jonah 3/5-10), repentance for a restoration (Dan 9/3-5, Dan 10/3), repentance to prevent imminent death (King Ahab : 1Kings 21/25-27, King David : 2Sa 12/15-17, King Hezekiah : 2Kings 20/1-7).
- To gain Victory in battles : after loosing 40,000 men in two days in a battle, the Israelite cried out to God for help. They fasted and humbled themselves. The next day, God gave them victory over the Benjamites (Judges 20/26). You should fast before engaging in any battle, whether spiritual or physical.
- To express our Love & Gratitude to God and Worship Him : Luke 2/37 tells us the story of a 84-year-old prophetess named Anna, who never left the Temple and worshiped God day and night praying and fasting. Sometimes when God blesses us (healing, deliverance, job, money, etc.) we should express our gratitude towards Him in prayers and fasting.
- To break satanic strongholds : Sometimes, prayers are not enough to win some battles, grab some blessings, recover from some sickness or diseases, etc. In these cases, we should go extra-miles by fasting in order to destroy satanic strongholds. Read Marc 9/29, to understand why…
4- FASTING THE RIGHT OR WRONG WAY
When the Holy Spirit convinces you to fast or when you decide to fast for any reason, there are certain things you should do and some others you should not.
♦ Wrong way of fasting
– When you fast, you should pray and meditate a lot. If you don’t pray and meditate the word of God when fasting, you are just starving your body of food. You’ll not enjoy any benefit of fasting.
– When you fast and you are arrogant (feeling better than others), or you do wicked & hypocritical things, or you are not tolerant, or you display a sad countenance, or you wallow in sins instead of repenting, you won’t get any answer from your so-called fasting (Mat 6/16 ; Luke 18/10-14 ; Isaiah 58/3-5) !
♦ Right way of fasting
– When you fast, loose the bonds of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, share your bread with the hungry, do right and not evil things, cover the naked, reach out to the poor, etc. (Isaiah 58/6-7) !
– When you fast that way, God will answer your fasting & prayers. He will guide you, heal you, bless you, deliver you, and enlighten you (Isaiah 58/8-11) !Learn How to Read, Meditate & Study the Bible (Download this ebook Now) !
5- WHY MANY CHRISTIANS DON’T FAST?
Despite the fact that Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights and expects us to also fast from time to time (Mat 6/16-18), many Christians are very slow to fasting or they don’t fast at all. Here are a few reasons why they behave so :
♦ Greediness : Gluttony & revelry are sins (Ga 5/21). And by practicing such things, many Christians are unable to fast and grab divine blessings! Some Christians can’t go without food and water for 3 days, even for 1 single day! They love festivities and partying too much. Food is indeed their god. They love food more than God, and consume physical things more than the spiritual ones (Mat 4/4). That’s why their spiritual life is neither fruitful nor successful.
♦ Ignorance : Ignoring the benefits of fasting keeps many Christians away from fasting. Not also knowing when & how to fast prevent many from fasting. Many Christians really perish by lack of knowledge (Hosea 4/6). For instance, they will start praying for a topic for one or two months and will keep praying for the same topic, even if they don’t get any result. Not knowing that sometimes a few days of fasting must be added to their prayer in order to get an answer from God (Marc 9/29). Sometimes, it is not about ignorance but rather laziness. Many Christians are lazy to practice vital spiritual things like prayer, fasting & meditation and they miss extraordinary blessings, miracles, healing, power and authority.
To summarize, let’s say that Prayer & Meditation added to Fasting are powerful weapons in the hands of Christians. If they use these weapons accordingly, they will achieve more and more things in both the invisible and the visible realms. But if they don’t use these weapons by ignorance or laziness, they will not be fruitful and successful in their christian life and will miss countless opportunities & divine blessings. So, let us pray and meditate daily (Jos 1/8) and also fast as often as we can.