Church of God, New World Ministries

Fasting

You might ask yourself, should I fast? Is fasting necessary for us as Christians today? Are there any benefits to fasting? Is it only physical, or are there reasons spiritually as well? These are all very good questions that deserve answers.

To begin, let us look into God’s Word and see what He has told us to do. By turning to Mark 2:18-20, we find that Jesus Christ said that while the bridegroom was with his disciples they didn’t fast, but when he was gone, then they would fast. So we see that while we are here on this earth without the presence of God that the true followers of Jesus Christ would fast.

But why would anyone want to go without food and water for a period of time—say 24, 36, or 48 hours, or longer? Some might think that going without while sleeping at night is enough of a fast—after all, the first meal of the morning is called breakfast! Physically, we hear doctors espousing the values of fasting—that the body needs a period of time to cleanse itself of impurities. The results of fasting are very beneficial for the body. But what about the spiritual side of fasting?

Jesus Christ said that certain problems could not be overcome without the power of prayer and fasting. If we would turn to Matthew 17:14-21 we would find the account of the disciples not being able to cast out a demon. They had cast out other demons and healed the sick, but this time they could not do so. They lacked that ability in this case. So when we are faced with a problem that we are not able to conquer, then we need extra help—help that only comes through fasting.

What does fasting do? It is a tool to humble ourselves—to work on the self—the ego—the vanity—by going without food and water. As physical human beings we are sustained by what we consume. We don’t live very long without some type of sustenance. But Christ said we are not to live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4). We need to get the mind off the self and its desires and on the mind of God. herefore fasting would focus our attention on our Maker—The Almighty—knowing that without Him we are nothing.

God said He resists the proud but gives grace—mercy and pardon—to the humble (I Pet. 5:5). To this man will I look--one who is contrite and trembles at my word (Isa. 66:2). He also said a broken spirit I will not despise or reject (Ps. 51:17). So fasting will bring us into a closer relationship with God. It helps us to build an oneness with our Maker—our Creator. It humbles us, it allows us to see ourselves for what we truly are—nothing. We are simply flesh and blood with a constant need for food and water— yet our days are numbered. We don’t live forever in this state of being. We need God, we need to obey God, we need His Spirit. Fasting is a very important tool that all too often we neglect.

But if we think that by fasting all our problems will be solved or go away, we are still missing the point. For fasting is not for selfish gain. We do not fast to force God to do our will, but instead to seek His will. As I said, fasting is a tool that allows God to shape us as He pleases.

Through fasting we are able to tap into the power of God. God sees our humility—our willingness to do it His way and not our own. He is then able to bind us closer to Him. We now have a much closer, stronger, and more dynamic walk with Him. We are able to approach His throne of grace and mercy with a sure conviction that He will hear us and answer as He sees fit. There is power in prayer and fasting. The example of Daniel stands out for all to see. He was a man who served the Eternal through much prayer and fasting.

Some people have asked me--how often should one fast? We find that God commands one day a year—the day of Atonement. But is that enough? Remember what Christ said in Matthew 6:16. “When you fast…” He did not say “if you fast”. In Luke 5:33 we find that the disciples of John were fasting often. Christ said that when He was gone then His disciples would also fast (verse 35). I believe that Christ meant that they would also fast often. Why? Let me explain.

Just as a marathon runner must keep in shape for the big race by running quite often, so must we fast quite often. As creatures of habit we develop routines for our lives. Even God puts us on a routine—six days shall one work but the seventh day is the Sabbath—a weekly reminder of what God as done and will do. How often do we need to be reminded of our insignificance? How quickly would we depart from God if we did not have a weekly reminder—the Sabbath.

It is a personal choice of how often. Some might fast twice a month, or even every week. The Pharisees fasted twice a week but it did not count with God because it was only for a show. We must not fast that way. It is to be private matter between us and God. Of course our spouses will know, but for the most part, no one else needs to know when we are fasting. The important thing to remember is our relationship with God. If we find that we value it and are convicted that the oneness with God is very precious, then we will fast quite often because we know it is worth all the effort and sacrifice. If we are fasting for the right reasons it will not be a burden nor become empty—vain or repetitious.

We need God by our side through the thick and thin of life. Fasting is the key to unlock the power of God. Prayer is not enough. We must humble ourselves in the sight of God (James 4:10) and then He will give us the victory! He will supply all our needs. Don’t put it off. Reach for the prize. Go for the gold. Now is the time to develop the character of God.

 
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