Fasting, which Paul enlarges to include sexual abstinence for a season (1 Cor. 7:1-7), controls all things internal. It subordinates natural, fleshly desires to spiritual pursuits. It is a practical demonstration that my body is being conditioned to serve soul and spirit and not master them. It is an evident signal to heaven that my “hunger and thirst for righteousness” is more than sentiment. It is an act of surrender, a demonstration of will and obedience, the essential partner in drawing near to God in prayer. It involves a break with the world. It heightens sensitivity to the Spirit, including the capacity to “hear God.” It mandates seasons over an open Bible.
What’s the Big Deal about Fasting?
Written by Kathy Hamon, Speaker; Former Church of God State Prayer Leader
At the core of your being, are you a professing Christian and a practicing atheist? Is your life a credit to Jesus? To your faith in God? Does your life reflect confidence in the active care and comfort of God who engages us in an active way, meeting your needs? In the middle of some problem, do you exhibit and anticipate triumph? Even joy?
It may seem strange – but a missing key could be fasting. The early church fasting regularly. We fast irregularly, sporadically, if at all. Fasting is regarded by even devout church-attenders as a rather exotic practice.
Fasting has been relegated to the most fervent, the exceptionally earnest among us. Perhaps – it should be normal Christian practice.
The First Step
Our tendency is toward apathy. We lack discipline. We make excuses. We exempt ourselves from hardship. We look longingly at those with joy and victory, wishing such a state on ourselves, without the will or passion to embrace the discipline necessary to get us into the land of promise.
Jesus declared, “The Kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent take it by force!” Matt. 11:12. Violent, fierce, vehement, forceful, intense, furious, aggressive, pugnacious – are not terms we normally associate with Jesus, or Christianity. The word for violence is bee-ad-zo translated as “crowding or forcing oneself into a crowded space in order to seize” a thing. Another suggestion is “to dispossess something or someone with the intention of repossessing that same space or thing.” This word violent is one who is energetic, one who forces a matter. And the word force is har-pad-zo, translated to seize, pluck back or pull away by force with energy and passion.
The idea seems to be this – “The kingdom of God suffers by others crowding in to displace, dispossess and re-possess our space; but the energetic, the forcers, those who love and live life, take it back by seizing, plucking back by force with energy and passion.”
Nations will not be won, nor will revival come through passive people. Paul said, “I have not yet attained but this one thing I do. I choose to forget those things which are behind, and I choose to press on to the mark for the price of the high calling in Christ Jesus.”
What Fasting Accomplishes
- It transforms passivity into passion – with a bit of a small supernatural jumpstart.
- It sensitizes us to spiritual things.
- Fasting is the intentional discipline of “pressing into and drawing near” to the Lord.
- Fasting sensitizes our ability to hear the voice of the Spirit.
- Fasting increases our faith level and spiritual power and authority in our lives and the Kingdom of Heaven.
- Fasting carries a great reward from the Father in Heaven.
- Fasting is our voluntarily humbling ourselves to the Lord which in God’s eyes is a very good discipline and brings rewards as well.
- Fasting averts God’s judgment and invokes God’s intervention and restoration.
- Fasting rescues and awakens our next generation for God’s glory!
- Fasting taps God’s power
- It is act of warfare that dethrones principalities
- Fasting is an act of dependence on His strength
Types of Fasting
The Bridegroom Fast – A fast designed to focus on the Lord, His goodness, grace and attributes. It is a pursuit of God and an aggressive and intentional drawing closer to God involving intimacy. It is not based upon the absence of food. Instead it is feeding upon the goodness and unconditional love of God. It’s about building relationship and communion with God.
The Daniel Fast – You may eat anything derived from ‘seed.’ This includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, lignums and whole wheat breads. It is taken from Daniel 1:12. The Daniel fast was a cultural accommodation – a test that was observed by the authorities. Daniel had been ordered to violate Jewish law and conscience, and he creatively offered a compromise. And God blessed him and the Hebrews who participated with him in the fast.
The Liquid Fast — One can drink fruit or vegetable smoothies, fruit juices, vegetable juices, broths and light soups. Tea and coffee should be kept at a minimum because of the toxins are harsh on the lining of your stomach. You should also be frugal on citrus drinks because of the acid in the oranges. Green tea or any other herbal teas are very refreshing and of course drink plenty of water. Warm water with a hint of honey is very refreshing and gives the sensation of being warm and content. A juicer is wonderful during a liquid fast.
The Partial Fast – Used by Elijah in I Kings 17. There, he fasted one meal a day for an extended time. You might choose a variation of this fast – instead of a meal a day, you might have specific meals you skip over the course of a week, or for some longer time period. Better fast some, than none.
The Total Fast – During this fast, you abstain from all food and any drink, but water. And you will need to drink plenty of water. A total fast is not for the faint of heart. A three-day fast may be a generous time-frame for some. If you plan to go longer, check with a pastor or veteran intercessor for advice. If you have any physical issues, particularly diabetes, you may want to consult with your doctor.
How do I start?
- Decide why you are fasting. What is your goal and purpose?
- Choose the type of fast in which you will engage. Although that may change in the course of the fast. You may start on a Daniel fast, and end up on a total fast – or the reverse. Don’t be legalistic. This is about a relationship. You are on a quest – with God.
- Have in mind a time-frame for your fast – a day, several days or a week, or indefinitely. Again, that may change. If you are praying and fasting about a particularly matter, the breakthrough and the release from the fast may come in days – or it may be weeks. If the Lord calls you to a fast, sometimes only the Lord can determine the length of the fast.
- You should plan to get a journal and record the insights, revelations and what you hear from the Lord during this season. If your fast is characteristic of that of other brothers and sisters, your spiritual ears will become acutely sensitive to the still small voice of God. It may become like thunder.
- You will now long to spend extended time in the presence of the Lord. Remember it is not just in the abstinence of food that makes this a fast. It is the fasting of natural food and the feasting upon the Word of God.
- Find a prayer partner to intercede with and/or for you during the fast. In fact, fasting together – at least in agreement with another, is a powerful experience. Encourage one another. Share your insights. You will find that knowing that you have started a partnership fast will encourage you to seriously pursue it. Temptations to break it too early – or cheat, will be tempered by the covenant. “If any two of you will agree as touching one thing, it shall be done of my Father in heaven” (Mt. 16:19).