Republished with permission from Prayer Force (theresponseusa.com/prayer-force/). Some excerpts taken from an article by Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ, Mike Bickle and the International House of Prayer.
WHAT IS FASTING?
Fasting is the most powerful spiritual discipline of all the Christian disciplines. Although fasting is always voluntary, scripture is clear that as the people of God we will participate in fasting, but it must come from the place of revelation and personal discipline. Fasting should never be based on others revelation or a law based motivation. If you fail hit delete and start again. Fasting and prayer can also work on a much grander scale. According to Scripture, personal experience and observation, when God's people fast with a proper Biblical motive-seeking God's face not His hand-with a broken, repentant, and contrite spirit, God will hear from heaven and heal our lives, our churches, our communities, our nation and world. Fasting in the Bible is related to food. Any non-food related limiting or ceasing of things like television, internet, video games, cigarettes, etc. is the practice of abstaining. This can also be very helpful in creating more margin in one’s life for things like prayer and Bible reading.
Because Jesus is no longer with us and we were commanded to fast for His return (Matthew 9). There are so many distractions both positive and negative in our lives that hinder our ability to hear from the Lord clearly. We have set up many idols within the Church that limit our relationship with the Lord and therefore hinder our ability to hear clearly and obey. When our flesh is satisfied, our spirit often goes hungry. We also fast so the awesome power of God can be released through us as we fast through the enabling of the Holy Spirit.
If you do not already know of the power and importance of fasting, here are some very important facts:
- Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras. Jesus fasted 40 days and reminded His followers to fast, "when you fast," not if you fast.
- Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the "first love" for your Lord and result in a more intimate relationship with Christ.
- Fasting is a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God (Psalm 35:13; Ezra 8:21).
- Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life.
- Fasting can result in a dynamic personal revival in your own life-and make you a channel of revival to others.
- Fasting and prayer are the only disciplines that fulfill the requirements of II Chronicles 7:14.
HOW TO FAST?
As you begin your fast, you may hear from concerned loved ones and friends who urge you to protect your health. And they are right. You should protect your health. By all means, consult your doctor before you begin your fast. But, be aware that many doctors have not been trained in this area and so their understanding is limited. Even so, it would be wise to ask your doctor for a physical exam to make sure you are in good health. You may have a physical problem that would make fasting unwise or dangerous. Also, if you are under any type of medication, make sure you talk to your doctor before changing your regime. Prudence and caution are in order. When you are assured that you are in good health, you are ready to begin your fast. In spite of the absolute safety and benefits of fasting, there are certain persons who should NEVER fast without professional supervision.
- Persons who are physically too thin or emaciated.
- Persons who are prone to anorexia, bulimia, or other behavioral disorders.
- Those who suffer weakness or anemia.
- Persons who have tumors, bleeding ulcers, cancer, blood diseases, or who have heart disease.
- Those who suffer chronic problems with kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, or other important organs.
- Individuals who take insulin for diabetes, or suffer any other blood sugar problem such as hyperglycemia.
- Women who are pregnant or nursing.
YOUR SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE
Receiving God's best blessing from a fast requires solid commitment. Arranging special time each day with God is absolutely crucial in attaining intimate communion with the Father. You must devote yourself to seeking God's face, especially during those times in which you feel weak, vulnerable, or irritable. Read His Word and pray during what were mealtimes. Meditate on Him when you awake in the night. Focus on your Heavenly Father and make every act one of praise and worship. As you enter this time of heightened spiritual devotion, be aware that Satan will do everything he can to pull you away from your prayer and Bible reading time. When you feel the enemy trying to discourage you, immediately go to God in prayer and ask Him to strengthen your resolve. The focus of this Matthew 9 fast is to prepare the way for the Lord to come. By your prayers of humility, as you fast, you will not only prepare the way of the Lord but you will also help the Great Commission be fulfilled. True spiritual fasting focuses on God. Center your total being on Him, your attitudes, your actions, your motives, desires, and words. This can only take place if God and His Holy Spirit is at the center of our attention. Confess your sins as the Holy Spirit brings them to your attention and continue to focus on God and God alone so that your prayers may be powerful and effective. Your motive in fasting must be to glorify God, not to have an emotional experience, and not to attain personal happiness. When your motives are right, God will honor your seeking heart and bless your time with Him in a very special way.