September 20, 2023
FASTING FOR SPIRITUAL BREAKTHROUGH
Text: Mark 9:29 “So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting”
Fasting and prayer are weapons/tools in the Believers inventory box and these are either abused or underutilized; prayer is one tool many assume that they use it often, while in actual fact abuse it (“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” James 4:3), while fasting on the other hand is literally underutilize it (“So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting” Mark 9:29).
What is Biblical Fasting?
Biblical fasting is defined as abstaining from food for spiritual purposes, not because it is not available but rather in the presence of abundance one chooses to deny him/herself of the pleasure of food for the sole purpose of seeking God (“I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over” Daniel 10:3, “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven” Nehemiah 1:4).
Fasting is not in avoiding sin (“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” Romans 6:1-2)
Some argue that as New Testament believers we are not required to fast (“Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast? Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast” Matthew 9:14-15)
There are some who also argue that assigned days of fasting is unscriptural (“This is what the Lord Almighty says: “The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace” Zechariah 8:19),
Types of Fasting:
There are four (4) types of fasts shown in the scriptures, but there is a fourth that has come into play from modification of some of the types of fasting:
- Daniel’s fast/white fast: (“I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over” Daniel 10:3).
- Dry fast: (“And the angel of the LORD came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you. So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God” 1st Kings 19:7-8).
- Pleasure fast: (“Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep” Daniel 6:18).
- Partial fast: This kind of fasting is similar to the dry fast or Daniel fast, but the difference is that the fast is daily.
How does fasting work?
Proverbs 30:21-23 “Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up: a servant who becomes king, a godless fool who gets plenty to eat, a contemptible woman who gets married, and a servant who displaces her mistress” The presence and the ability received from food is identified as one of the issues that befall man and also history has shown that those who are filled with food tend to give themselves to flesh, so as believers the intention for fasting is to deny oneself of the
Fasting is a deliberate process to break down one’s body, so one can be more in tuned to the Holy Spirit (“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” Matthew 26:41, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” Galatians 5:17)
Fasting puts one’s body under subjection, so that the Spirit can gain control (“No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” 1st Corinthians 9:27)
Motivation for fasting:
The motivation for fasting determines if it is accepted by God or it is a show off for men which has no rewards in Heaven (“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” Matthew 6:16-18).
Wrong reasons for Fasting:
- To be seen by others (“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full” Matthew 6:16).
- To be justified before God (“I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess” Luke 18:12).
Right reasons for fasting:
- To awaken a spiritual hunger: 2nd Chronicles 7:14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” Jonah 3:6-9 “When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence”
- Seek spiritual strength/anointing: Matthew 17:21 “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting”.
- To master self: 1st Corinthians 6:12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but I will not be mastered by anything” Philippians 3:8 “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ”.
- To demonstrate our love and desire for God: John 4:34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work”
Biblical Examples of Fasting:
- Moses: Moses is the first recorded man that fasted in the Bible and he did this to engage with God (“So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights” Exodus 24:18, “When I went up on the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant that the Lordhad made with you, I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water” Deuteronomy 9:9)
- Elijah: (“And the angel of the LORD came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you. So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God” 1st Kings 19:7-8).
- David: David was man who fasted on many occasions; he fasted for God’s divine intervention and mercy over the child borne by Uriah’s wife (2nd Samuel 12:16-17), to mourn Saul (2nd Samuel 1:11-12), to seek intervention from God concerning others (Psalm 35:13).
- Daniel: (“I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over” Daniel 10:3).
- King Darius: (“Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep” Daniel 6:18).
- Nehemiah: Nehemiah 1:4 “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven”.
- Mordecai and the Jews: (Esther 4:3 “In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes”).
- The people of Nineveh: Jonah 3:6-9.
- Jesus: (“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry” Matthew 4:1-2)
- Paul: (“For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything” Acts 9:9)
- The Early Church: Acts 13:2-3 “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off”.
- Paul and Barnabas: Acts 14:23 “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”.
Yes, fasting is more than food for God desires that our fasting should not just be without food, while other important things are left behind, but rather we are to do these things too (“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” Isaiah 58:6-7).