What comes to mind when you think of the word ‘fasting’?
- A famished-looking nomad?
- The next new diet plan?
- A disciplined life for the religiously eccentric?
If this was your initial thinking, it’s okay! There are always initial preconceptions to words that seem foreign. While fasting may seem like an outdated spiritual discipline, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Fasting denies the body of its basic desire – food – to draw sustenance from the Lord. It is a time of humbling oneself before God, denying the flesh, and submitting to the Spirit. Fasting serves as a godly reminder that Christ is on the throne of your life as its process strips away preferences and indulgences that hinder communion with the Lord.
Let’s face it – we all need to hear from God! We all need more of Christ’s power in our lives. We all need to understand His will as we look forward to the future. We need Him to live a spirit-filled life each day.
Here are 5 benefits I found when it comes to fasting to the Lord:
- Deeper Relationship with God
The Lord makes it clear that if we seek Him with all our hearts, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). Fasting strips us away from our routine, which may not include putting the Lord first if we are honest. The demands of life – the tasks, meetings, and responsibilities, can make seeking more of God an afterthought. Whether distracted from your routine or feeling distant in your walk with God, the Lord encourages you to return to Him with all your heart and to do so with fasting (Joel 2:12).
The denial of self and the dependency on Christ deepen your relationship with God. There’s a hunger that arises for the Scriptures, and it sticks to you like never before when you read it. Prayer increases in richness and recurrence as you are reminded of opportunities to pray. If we are in a season of needing more of God in our daily living, fasting draws us into God’s presence, where He will meet us. (James 4:8).
2. Heightened Sensitivity to the Spirit
After fighting the initial withdrawals of the body (caffeine headaches for me!), a sense of clarity takes place where I am more spiritually aware. The Lord’s voice is more precise, and I feel the nudges of the Holy Spirit more frequently. The dependence on the Lord opens up your ears to hear what He is speaking and see what He sees.
When the church at Antioch was meeting, they began to worship and fast together. It was then that the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2). Imagine if the church didn’t seek more of God through fasting – what would have happened to Paul and Barnabas’ missionary journey? The church’s submission to the Spirit through fasting brought about a godly assignment that would change the world!
3. Answered Prayers
The act of humbling oneself causes the Lord to incline His ear towards us. Look at Ahab, a wicked king, “who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord” (1 Kings 21:25). Elijah pronounced judgment from the Lord upon Ahab, and the king responded by tearing his clothes, putting on sackcloth, and fasting. Look at what the Lord says regarding Ahab: “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.” (1 Kings 21:28-29).
Now think about this: If Ahab, who was wicked, got the Lord’s attention, how much more will God hear us as His children? We are His sons and daughters whom He loves! It is our privilege to come to the throne room and to find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16).
If you have burdens that you have been carrying, it is time to give those to the Lord through a fast. As mentioned in last week’s blog, The Open Door, God invites us to knock so that the door will be open; we humble ourselves and keep coming to Him so that we will find Him and the answers that we are looking for (Matthew 7:7-8).
4. Breakthrough Happens
Are you feeling stuck? Not sure what to do? Do you keep hitting the same wall over and over?
You need a breakthrough!
The disciples were trying to cast out an impure spirit in a young boy but to no avail. Jesus shows up on the scene, commands the spirit to leave, and the boy is restored. (See Mark 9:14-27) Naturally curious with their failed attempt to exorcise the demon, the disciples asked why they couldn’t drive it out. Jesus’ response? This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting. (Mark 9:28).
Remember, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but our struggle is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12). The enemy doesn’t want you to receive your breakthrough or the answer you are seeking. Fasting submits our will before God so that we can resist the enemy, and he will flee (James 4:7, 10). It releases the power from God to destroy the works of Satan that are blocking the blessing you have been waiting for.
5. Healing Takes Place
Isaiah 58 is known as the fasting chapter. I encourage you to read it. The Lord reveals what true fasting looks like to Him since the Israelities were ‘going through the ‘motions’ in their fast. Through this text, God reveals several benefits of a godly fast, one which is healing:
“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear.” (Isaiah 58:8).
If you need healing today, submitting to God in a fast is the best place to start. As the verse mentions, your healing will not only come but will be quicker than expected. The Lord could reveal to you what needs to be done to receive your healing. In fact, you might find out that your physical ailment could be spiritual bondage, like the woman who was crippled for 18 years by a spirit (See Luke 13:10-17). If you have been in pain for some time, why not seek the Lord for your healing in a fast? Submit those fleshly desires and seek God for what He has for you!
I pray that these five benefits will encourage you to begin a fast if you have not done so for 2022. If we can have a deeper relationship with God and the guidance, healing, and breakthrough in our lives, why not start the new year with God first? If you have any specific questions on how to fast or what types of fast, please email me, and I will gladly help you and pray with you through it. May our glorious God show you the depths of His riches in this fast like never before.
Blessings in Jesus’ Name,