What is Biblical Fasting / Spiritual Discipline of Fasting?
Today, people fast for various reasons that are not necessarily religious. Many people fast because they want to improve their health, protest an injustice, or pass on a powerful message. However, we need to go back to God’s Word to find out why we should be fasting. People refer to this as biblical fasting.
Fasting is an ancient practice that dates back to biblical times. We read about men and women of God who fasted for various reasons, for example, Queen Esther, King David, the apostles, among others. Jesus also fasted while He was on earth. One question you need to answer is, “Do you know the reason for fasting?” When we understand why we fast, we can make the most use of our prayer and fasting times.
What is Fasting, and Why Should Christians Fast?
Fasting is a way of abstaining from certain foods and drinks to focus on spiritual issues in our lives and seek God’s protection, wisdom, strength, and forgiveness. Christians fast during Lent as they prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Bible reveals some reasons for fasting. Let’s look at 4 of them below.
- Free us from injustice and oppression. God delivers us from the oppression of the enemy and sets us free. We see this in Isaiah 58:6. Some things we struggle with in life only leave once we pray and fast.
- Seek the Lord’s help. When Jehoshaphat heard that a vast army from Edom was marching against him, he proclaimed a fast in Judah so that he and the people could seek God’s help in dealing with the enemy (2 Chronicles 20:3). Sometimes we don’t know what to do in a situation and we need God’s guidance. When we fast, we hear God clearly giving us direction.
- Prepare for ministry. We need to fast when we sense God is birthing a new ministry or assignment in our lives. Jesus fasted right before He started His ministry on earth (Matthew 4:1-2). Fasting helps us purify our hearts before God so that He can pour into us what He wants us to pour out into others.
- Seek God on behalf of others. Daniel is a man who prayed for his people ( worship god) when he understood that the seventy years of the Israelites in Babylon were almost over (Daniel 9:2-3). God leads us to pray and fast for others because He wants to move in their lives.
People fasted in the Bible because they wanted to devote themselves to seeking God without distractions. Fasting helps us to focus on God and not on food or other worldly things. We deny ourselves the things that feed our flesh so that we can focus on the things of God.
Why is Fasting Called a Spiritual Discipline?
Fasting is a spiritual discipline because it is a core practice of the Christian faith. We see from the Bible that people fasted whenever they felt they needed to get closer to God and seek His face,seek god’s guidance. When Jesus talked about fasting in Matthew 6:16-18, He said, “When you fast…” This meant that He expected us to fast regularly as part of our walk with Him. Jesus showed us we fast to seek God and not for other reasons. The world has come up with various reasons for fasting, but they are not biblical. Christians do biblical fasting to seek God.
Men can fast when they need wisdom and guidance in their work or leadership positions. They can use their time of fasting to find out how God wants them to conduct their homes and ensure the spiritual health of their homes.
Women can fast to get direction from God on their life’s purpose and the things that distract them from it. Sometimes women struggle with their weight or appearance. They need to fast in order to seek God for biblical guidance in this area.
People in positions of leadership may need to fast before they enter into new responsibilities. For example, the President of the United States may need to fast before he speaks to the nation about important issues.
It is called a discipline because biblical fasting requires discipline. If we are to benefit from biblical fasting, then we must practice biblical fasting regularly.
Biblical Guidelines for Fasting ( spiritual disciplines )
One simple guideline that Jesus gave us about fasting is that we should not make it a public affair. We should act normally during our day, and only God needs to know that we are fasting. He also said that it is our heavenly Father who sees us in the secret place as we fast, and rewards us openly (Matthew 6:16-18). Jesus said we should not be hypocrites by showing others we are fasting and doing it with the wrong intent. Instead, we should fast in secret with a clean heart.
When we fast biblical guidelines, we enjoy their benefits. Because biblical fasting is not about ritual but rather a commitment to live for God and seek Him, it is a great source of strength for us to grow in our love relationship with Jesus. We find that biblical fasting helps us spend more time in prayer. When we find ourselves slipping into sin, fasting helps us to immediately turn our face toward God and ask for forgiveness.
Finally, biblical fasting is not just about fasting from food but anything that gives us pleasure or joy without thinking of the effect it may have on others. This means that biblical fasting can be used as a powerful weapon in fighting addictions and any other bondage in our lives.
When we fast biblical guidelines, we grow closer to God; when we violate biblical fasting, we actually move away from Him. May God give us all the grace to follow biblical fasting guidelines so that we may experience its abundant blessings.
The Benefits of Bible-based Abstinence
Fasting is a time to seek God, and it gives us the opportunity to purify our hearts. This is how we hear God’s instructions for the next season of our lives or how to deal with certain issues. Fasting frees us from bondage, and we can focus on worshipping God with no hindrances.
When we fast, we do it as an act of worship to God because He is our sole focus. We recognize His sovereignty and majesty. He is the one with the power to do the impossible in our lives. By fasting, we are inviting God to work miracles in our lives.
Abstinence Biblically means refraining from certain things, and biblical abstinence has great benefits. Abstinence frees God’s children from the addiction of feeding on worldly pleasures. When we are sober in this area, our hearts are purified to enjoy the biblical feasts that God has prepared for us.
Biblical fasting is an act of worship that helps us focus our attention on God. It is a biblical truth that fasting without biblical abstinence does not bring the desired biblical results. People who are serious about biblical fasting should also be serious about biblical abstinence.
Jesus said, “When you fast” (Matthew 6:16). We use our muscles when we work out at the gym or whenever we exert ourselves physically. It is biblical fasting that works our spiritual muscles, and biblical abstinence helps us strengthen those muscles. In the Bible, fasting and abstinence were always used together as a godly lifestyle.
Abstinence helps us become sober-minded for God’s biblical direction and make wise biblical decisions in life (Romans 12:2). When we are sober-minded, we can hear biblical instructions from God and recognize His loving biblical discipline that is designed to free us from bondage.
It helps us detect satanic attacks on our lives. As a spiritual weapon, biblical abstinence helps separate us from worldly things so that we will be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s direction in our lives. Furthermore, biblical abstinence helps us avoid situations where we can easily fall into temptation.
Biblical fasting and biblical abstinence are biblical tools that God has given us to help cleanse our hearts in preparation for the wonderful biblical feasts He has prepared for us (John 6:56). May God give us all the grace to live a godly lifestyle with biblical fasting and biblical abstinence.
How to Complete a Bible-based Fast
To complete a Bible-based fast, start and end with prayer. Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit throughout your fast. God has a lot to say, and it may not always be what you think. Listen to God’s message concerning your life. Read the Bible because God uses it to answer your questions and give you guidance. After fasting, eat something light or have a bowl of soup. This will help you slowly reintroduce food to your body. It has stayed for long without food.
Why we should be more intentional about the way we eat, even outside of religious observance periods
It’s important to be intentional about how we eat so that our bodies can remain healthy. We are on earth for a purpose and we need the energy and health to do the work God has given us. 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us that whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we should do it for the glory of God.
Fasting is a cleansing and purifying experience in our lives. It leaves us feeling refreshed because we spend more time in the presence of God. We should make fasting a regular practice as it draws us closer to God. Listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit when it is time to fast.