What is Fasting?
The term ‘Fasting’ generally refers to a period of abstinence from food for the purpose of engaging in uninterrupted study, prayer and meditation with a clear objective and goal in focus. Why is Fasting Necessary?
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The scriptures are replete with numerous accounts of remarkable results and dramatic testimonies produced through Fasting. As Christians, Fasting is one of the godly exercises we should engage in regularly, with the promise of present and eternal benefits. The advantages are numerous, and here are a few: Through Fasting, we can improve our effectiveness in the things of the spirit. In simple terms, Fasting helps you to tame the flesh and lift the spirit. As Christians, we are required to walk in the spirit, always. This means to be spirit-controlled and not flesh controlled. This is important because Rom 8:6 says “…to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” and also in John 6:63 our Lord Jesus said “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing….”.
So how does Fasting help you to tame the flesh and lift the spirit? One of the cravings of the body is food. It is a craving that is connected to the senses. When we fast, we deliberately abstain from food even though our body craves it. We resist the urge to eat thereby improving our mastery over the cravings of the body, and instead focus on activities that build the spirit. Of course, we could engage in activities that build our spirit without abstaining from food, but the abstinence from food adds a level of ‘seriousness’ and ‘discipline’ to the exercise.
Fasting helps to sharpen our ability to receive or hear from God. It is like raising a spiritual antenna to pick the finer signals of the Spirit’s communication. But how does this happen? When we Fast, abstinence from food is a key characteristic but that is not all. The Fasting exercise promotes focus and undivided attention to study and prayer. There should be a deliberate cessation of all unnecessary activity and a conscious increase in activities of that engage the spirit. This helps to unclutter the mind and remove the ‘noise’ or interference that often prevents the hearing of God’s voice. During a period of Fasting, many have received clear direction and heard the voice of God in a more distinct way than before.
Fasting can be a vehicle to effect dramatic and urgent change in things that pertain to us or even in the circumstances of others around us. In James 5:17 (amp) the scriptures assure us that “….the earnest (heartfelt) prayer of a righteous man makes power available (dynamic)….” which means power to effect changes, shift things, re-arrange things in the present or in the future can be produced by me – when I pray a certain way. So how do I ensure my prayer is earnest and heartfelt.
When you declare a Fast, you are raising the stakes. It is a declaration of seriousness and urgency in addressing the matter at hand. It helps you to be earnest in your prayers and certainly it will be heartfelt. Your heart is in it to the point that you are giving up eating to focus on the matter at hand. And when you pray like this, the results are guaranteed!
FASTING THE RIGHT WAY! MAKING IT EFFECTIVE…..
It is important to note that Fasting is not an effort to change God. When we fast, we are the ones that change and we are the beneficiaries of the Fast. Our Fasting does not change God for the scriptures say in Mal 3:6 “….I am the Lord, I change not…”
So with this in focus, here are steps that can make our Fasting more effective; Have a clear objective in focus – what are your expectations from this Fast? The period of Fasting must include regular intervals of prayer, study and meditation on the Word. Having a clear focus and expectation will help guide your prayer, study and meditation time.
Minimize unnecessary activity or distractions during the Fasting period. Though solitude may not always be achievable, strive to be ‘alone’ with the Spirit as much as possible. And while there is no single prescription for the length of a Fast, it should be sufficiently long to be effective. It ought to be long enough to span several normal eating periods. And you should be hungry at some point during the Fast. But this is not a reason to break it but rather to endure and continue! Remember, part of the training of the Fast is to curb the craving of the flesh and maintain focus on the spirit.
WHO SHOULD FAST, AND WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO FAST?
It is quite common for people to Fast when they are in dire need or in trouble, but you don’t need to be in trouble or in a messy situation to be compelled to Fast. We can Fast to improve our spiritual acumen, stay ahead of situations, make general improvements in our life and to prepare for a greater future. And while anyone can Fast at anytime, there are special times when the Spirit of God leads us to Fast. These are special Fasting sessions not to be missed because they bear an accuracy and grace that is unusual.
The advantages of Fasting are numerous, and every Christian should benefit from it. What Fasting can do for you, may not be obtainable in any other way. And like many things in our Christian walk, the benefits come to you by doing. You may learn, read or even talk about Fasting – but that won’t bring the benefits. The benefits are realized when you do it.
The Benefits of Fasting and Prayer:
“And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the lord, on whom they believed” (Acts 14:23).
Part of the discipline you should consciously develop is to have times of prayer and fasting. Fasting is more than just staying off food; it has to go hand-in-hand with prayer. Our Lord Jesus prayed and fasted while He was on earth.
Contrary to what some people think, fasting and prayer is not a way to get God to do something; it is actually a spiritual exercise that benefits you. When you fast, you train your spirit to be sensitive. “What if I get hungry?” you might want to ask. That is the idea! You should be hungry and refuse to eat! It helps you discipline your human body and lets your spirit take control. At such times, it is easy for you to pick the signals coming from the Lord to you.
So how do you fast? First of all, pick a day when you won’t be so busy with visitors and activities. Some people occupy themselves with various activities when they’re fasting, just so they don’t feel the hunger until it’s time to break the fast. That is wrong! Get on the floor before God; take your Bible and some Christian study materials such as books, audio or video messages to listen to. Switch off the television and your telephone. Spend some time to speak in other tongues and pray. If you want specific results that only the anointing can produce, you must set yourself apart like this from time to time.
Fasting is very biblical with many examples of different types of fasts. It is important to understand that we don’t fast as a means of manipulating God to do our will. It is not a hunger strike to force God to do what we desire. Through fasting and prayer we position ourselves to come into line with God’s will and His plans. It is a means to show ourselves humble and submissive to the Lord; surrendering our own desires to Him to find and submit to His will for us. Fasting is also not a way to earn ‘points’ with God. The only thing that gives us merit before God is the sacrifice of Jesus. Fasting is not a diet! Our motivation is not one of loosing weight, or getting what we want; but rather to be spiritual attuned with God, so our spirit may be more sensitive to hear and receive from the Lord.
With many examples of fasting given in the Bible; we see that fasting is led by the Spirit; and is not self-will. However, you might have the desire through the Spirit to do a fast; and He will also lead you in the fast you should do. So when the desire arise, it is good to seek the guidance of the Spirit to which type of fast you should do and for how long. There are no formula for deciding the right fast for you, as the Spirit will lead you on this. If you had never fasted before, don’t be over ambitious. Ask the Lord what type of fasting you will do:
For example, there is;
1] Full Fast: Drinking only water
2] Partial Fast 1: Abstaining from all ‘pleasant foods’
3] Partial Fast 2: Abstaining from certain meals during every day of the fast
4] Liquid Fast: Drinking fruit juices [none sugar juices]
5] Dry Fast: Abstaining from drinking any liquids [this is for higher levels of fasting]
Thanksgiving During Fasting and Prayer Times:
“And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small” (Jeremiah 30:19).
If you look into your life and especially during our time of fasting and praying, you would find that the Lord has been so gracious and kind; His love, mercy and grace have seen us through a very remarkable season; in pass and has set us up for a greater future as individuals and as a ministry. Therefore, in celebrating all that He’s done for us, there are four important things to do in your gratitude and appreciation – not just in pass blessing, but also all that’s been predestined by the Lord for us.
The first is the prayer of thanksgiving – from your heart to the Lord today, appreciating Him for a most successful fast. (2 Corinthians 9:11-12 / 1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Secondly, offer Him the worship and praise of thanksgiving. (Psalm 95:2-3 / Colossians 3:17)
The third is your testimony of thanksgiving, where you tell of what He’s done in your life and during this fasting time especially. Be thankful for the foundation of your spirit; the foundation of faith that God gave you! You’re thankful for the hope in your spirit. (Isaiah 12:4 / Revelation 12:11)
The fourth is to give an offering in thanksgiving. Give the Lord a special thanksgiving offering today, and project yourself into the greater future He’s planned for you. (Psalm 50:14 / Deuteronomy 15:10)
Make your mark as we giving special thanks to the Lord, and let the whole day be full of joy for you as we doing this tomorrow. Carry the atmosphere of thanksgiving with you home. At designated times of the day, have praise and thanksgiving sessions on your own, or with your family. Make it an entire day of praise and thanksgiving, because you’re grateful for all that Christ is to you, and has accomplished on your behalf and in the ministry.
PRAYER Guide Line:
‘Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for receiving my worship, praise and thanksgiving, sanctifying them by Your Spirit. You’re magnified in my life, and Your glory has increased in my life. Thank you for an outstanding time of fasting and prayer, and for your grace that’s piloting me into the great future You have for me and our ministry, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.’
We pray that these points on fasting will help you during your next [or first] time of fasting and prayer – Stay blessed!