Fasting is not a subject I like to talk about because fasting is not easy, especially for a foodie like me. The Bible states ‘when you fast’, which shows us that it is assumed you will fast. The very nature of our lives as christians is a life of sacrifice. Fasting is one way we let go of ourselves and allow God to be greater within us. Fasting takes us to a deeper place in our relationship with the Father.
“Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies? I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights his heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.” Romans 12:1. (TPT)
We are told in this passage that if we surrender ourselves as living sacrifices we will experience all that delights Gods heart. So how do we surrender?
When we become followers of Christ, we accept Him as Lord of our life, therefore our lives are no longer ours. We sacrifice our agenda, our wants, our plans for what pleases Him. Fasting is one way of practicing and perfecting our sacrifice.
“Fasting that doesn’t rely on God is little more than dieting (at best) and can lead to self-righteousness and pride (at worst). We all need grace to fast.” Adam Wittenberg (IHOPKC)
What is a fast? Fasting is sacrificing something with God’s grace to complete the commitment. Usually, fasting involves giving up foods that you love, (i.e if you don’t like coffee or don’t drink it very often then giving up coffee for you is not a sacrifice.) In order for fasting to be beneficial it must be a sacrifice. Unlike a diet, fasting depends on divine help, not just self will. There is an extra grace and presence of God when we fast with the right heart.
Fasting in simple terms, is giving up something we love for a period of time, to have something we love more. Whether it’s giving up food or social media, giving up the news or movies, anything can be a fast. The key is sacrifice, this is the discipline of fasting.
I remember my first all day food fast. All I could think about the whole day was food. Dreaming of what I would have been eating, counting the hours until I could eat again. Planning what I would eat when my time of fasting ended. It was the longest day ever! Yes, that was a day of sacrifice, but I was so preoccupied with what I gave up that I never got past the sacrifice into the joy of the experience. There is a better way to fast.
The purpose of fasting is to connect with the Lord. To fast is to pursue greater focus on scripture and prayer. The time we would normally be eating is the extra time devoted to prayer and discussion with our Father. Fasting is purposefully putting God first and our needs second. It is to deny ourselves the pleasures of this life in order to experience greater revelation of God’s grace and mercy.
Old Testament fasting had to do with repentance and pleading for mercy.
“Then I (Daniel) turned my face to the Lord God, seeking Him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel 9:3 ESV.
In this passage of Scripture, Daniel is praying for Gods mercy on the people of Israel, including himself in the prayer. Daniels’ hearing of the Lord’s voice increased through this process. He received the wisdom from God through his fast so that he could respond to the need properly.
“When we fast, we abstain from food and direct our attention to God. We choose to seek Him with greater focus and commitment. We demonstrate that we desire spiritual things more than natural things and we are willing to forgo something important to us because God is more important. We humble ourselves and align our hearts and motives to His and invite Him to speak to us and move in our lives.” Victory Family Centre – Singapore
Fasting is a choice. Choose to seek the Lord by changing your routine, moving some things out of the way to make more room for God’s presence. It may not be easy, but it is always worth it!
Written by Sharon Williams, Act 4 the Nations Founder