When Will We Fast ?
I would like to encourage us to consider the biblical concept of fasting and its importance. There is much more to this discussion than what is written here, so please continue to search out the scriptures on this topic. A few questions to think about are: Do we fast? If so; what is our purpose for fasting? If we do not; what could be the reason why we do not? There are many reasons for a fast or fasting in the bible. In this brief study, I desire to look at briefly at our enemy and then a few examples of fasting and how they came about and some instruction for believers.
Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Therefore…1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walk's about, seeking whom he may devour.” Jesus said in Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray, that you do not enter into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And in Luke 22:31-32, the Lord said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for you, that you faith fail not: and when you are converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
We see in these verses that we have real enemies and that we have been called to action! Part of that action is fasting. Jesus said in Matthew 9:15 “but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.” Or Matthew 6:17-18 “But you, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which sees in secret, shall reward you openly.” Some important spiritual results of a fast are found in Isaiah 58:6, which says: Is not this the fast that I have chosen? 1) to loose the bands of wickedness, 2) to undo the heavy burdens, and 3) to let the oppressed go free, and 4) that you break every yoke.
Many times as we read thru these passages in the bible we observe things briefly, but do not apply them to ourselves or allow these principles to become a permanent part of our spiritual life. These principles’ here in Isaiah 58 are important Fact’s! Prayer with fasting as we are led by God will produce results and also will be rewarded by God according to Matt 6:6 and 6:18.
In Duet 9:8-26 Moses was led by God, to fast forty days, keep in mind it was initiated by God as he went up to receive the 10 commandments. Then a second time he fasted for the people because he was afraid of the anger of the LORD; for God had said that He would destroy the people for their sin. Vs 18 “And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which you sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.” In this instance we see a few aspects of these fasts: led of the Lord and for the people. In the Psalm’s, David said in chapter 35:13-14 that He humbled himself with fasting for those who were sick. “But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom. I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourns for his mother.” What a description of how our heart should be toward others; and with intensity; seeking God on their behalf.
It seems to me that fasting is part of what it means to “love the LORD with All our heart, mind, soul and strength and to “love our neighbor as our self.” In John 15 we see “no greater love has a man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” I believe fasting for one another is; in part, laying down our life for them. Many believers have not recognized the importance of fasting and prayer as part of loving the Lord and our neighbor as ourselves or as part of our service to God. It seems to be missing in most of the professing believers' lives and yet Jesus said: “and then shall they fast.” Have we included this as part of our walk with the Lord, as His ambassadors.
Let us consider a few more examples; in the book of Esther, we see how Esther and the Jews were fasting and praying to preserve the lives of their people, and God worked mightily to save them. Elijah, in 1 king's 19 was led by God to fast 40 days; then he heard God's voice and received instruction. In Ezra, it was to seek a right way. Ezra 8;21 & 23 “Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of Him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance” vs 23. “So, we fasted and sought our God for this: and He was intreated of us.” We can also see a great picture in Daniel’s life, of fasting and passion of heart to seek the Lord. Chapter 9:2-4 vs 3 “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:” Verses 20 to 23 are the results, as Gabriel was sent by God to speak to Daniel. Vs 22 “And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.” As we read chapter 10 we find another three weeks fast for understanding. Vs 14 the angel says: “Now I am come to make you understand what shall befall your people in the latter days:”. And vs 21: “But I will shew you that which is noted in the scripture of truth:”
So we see there are many examples all through the bible on the importance of; and reasons why we should be fasting. These Saints humbled themselves and fasted as they sought God, for understanding, for direction, for Gods mercy, for protection, to remove unbelief, to hear His voice, on behalf of the sick and interceding for the people. Fasting is also found throughout the New Testament and the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ “The author and finisher of our faith;” who was “led by the Spirit” into the wilderness, to fast for forty days; and He endured temptation without sin and then returned in the “Power of the Spirit.” Paul spoke of “fasting’s often” and in Luke 2:37 we hear of Anna “And she was a widow of about eighty-four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” These examples show that prayer with fasting is serious business. They fasted in their earnest desire to hear from God, and on behalf of others. It is to be a very important part of the believer’s life.
May we be a people of prayer and fasting. It is my hope that we will see the need and be encouraged to look more deeply into this subject. I pray you will consider these things and maybe ask yourself the question; will I lay down my life and my desires for our Lord Jesus and others in this work of fasting? This is not to be confused with a religious act, but as an overflow of our Love for God and His people, to truly be burdened for our Lord’s Kingdom here in the earth, for His inheritance as we look forward to His soon return. Let’s not be so comfortable we dismiss our responsibility in this area.
As I think about these things, I say… where is my heart? We must each examine ourselves in light of God’s Word and allow Him to lead us, to search these things out and apply them. I pray we will give ourselves more fully to His working, in and thru us. May the Lord be with you.
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 john 3:16