Fasting - Winter OceanFasting is a powerful tool when coupled with Prayer or Ministering to the Lord.  Somehow, fasting enhances our spiritual abilities.  (But please do it responsibly, and consult a doctor if you have any medical conditions or uncertainty whatsoever.)

Principles of Fasting

A lot changed after the crucifixion.   But the principles of fasting are still in effect.  For example, Jesus said his disciples would fast after he was taken from them.  Matthew 6.  And the church in Antioch made a habit of fasting.  Acts 13:1-3 & 11:19-30.

• Matthew 6:16-18.  Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

• Matthew 9:14-15.  Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?” And Jesus said unto them, “Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.”

• Acts 10:30.  And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing.

• Acts 13:2-3.  As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Fasting is a way to humble ourselves when we seek God in prayer or repentance.  The Hebrew Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, includes fasting, and was given to be “a statute to you forever.”  Leviticus 16:29 & 23:27 (afflict your souls, and do no work at all”); Psalm 69:10-11 (“chastened my soul with fasting”).  Since fasting on Yom Kippur is one of only a few parts of the Mosaic law required “forever,” I suggest Christians also fast on Yom Kippur.

• 2 Chronicles 7:14.  If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

•  Joel 2:1 and 2:12-18Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand … Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God?  Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people.

•  See also Judges 20:26.  Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat there before the Lord, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.

Ancients sometimes humbled themselves or repented before God with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.

• Daniel 9:3.  And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.

• Psalm 69:10-11.  When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach. I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them.

• Jonah 3:3-8.  So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.  [Note: I do NOT advocate giving up water.]

• Matthew 11:20-21.  Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

• Esther 4:3.  And in every province, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

• Revelation 11:3-6.  The two witnesses will be “clothed in sackcloth”.

Fasting is also good for our health, if done properly, helping us cleanse our bodies of toxins and burn fat.  Since our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), cleansing our bodies and losing fat will enhance our spirituality.

I also came across a teaching here that burning fat in the temple of our bodies is an offering to God under the new covenant similar to how burning fat on the alter was in the Old Testament.  See Genesis 4:4; Exodus 29:13 & 22; Leviticus 4:1-9; Leviticus 3:16-17 (“all the fat is the Lord’s” and “eat neither fat nor blood”).

Fasting for Spiritual Deliverance

Fasting is a powerful tool for spiritual deliverance.  Matthew 17:14-21 and Mark 9:14-29 tell the story of Jesus casting a “devil” out of a mute boy who was having seizures, when the apostles could not.  In the original King James, Jesus explains that this kind does not come out “but by prayer and fasting.”  Since the disciples were not fasting (Matthew 9:14-15), that was the reason they failed.

Despite the clear context of Jesus’ explanation, there has been a serious effort to delete this teaching on fasting from the Bible or to add a footnote alleging that the most reliable manuscripts do not say “and fasting.”  (see, e.g., here and here).  Fasting is also deleted from Acts 10:30.  My research indicates these deletions are blatantly incorrect.  Fasting must be an extremely potent weapon for it to be deleted from modern versions of the Bible.  And I note the strategy of questioning God’s Word is an old one.  See Genesis 3:1 (the serpent … said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”).  For further reading about problems with modern translations, there are some interesting articles from Bill Schnoebelen here, here, here and here.

For additional scripture on deliverance and fasting, see Psalms 109:21-25 (praying for deliverance and mentioning fasting as a reason); and Isaiah 58 (delivering the oppressed as a fast).

Ideas on How to Fast

Again – please do this responsibly, if at all, and consult a doctor if you have any medical conditions whatsoever or if you are in any way unsure, or if you are pregnant, nursing or think you may become pregnant.

It may help to read some books specifically on this topic.  One of the first things I learned was not to take caffeine because it makes you hungry.  Getting off caffeine can be a struggle in itself, and you might want to do it before trying a fast.

I started out with partial fasts of fruits and vegetables (see Daniel 1:8-15) for only a day.  Then I did this for a week, and eventually 40 days.  I did take supplements and drank protein shakes.  I lost weight too.  And I had dreams.  It really worked.

I’ve also tried liquid fasts for a little while, drinking my nutrition in liquid form from a blender.  When I did this I was very careful to include all the things I thought I needed, to use protein shake supplements, and not to put any kind of junk food in the blender.  This worked too.

I’ve gone for as long as three days without food at all, drinking only water.  I was seeking the Lord about something, so my attention was on that, which made it easier.  Otherwise, I’ve had a hard time doing complete fasts, but find I can do partial fasts much easier.  When fasting regularly, it does get easier.

I do think it’s helpful to try fasting for a single day every week, in whatever manner you decide.



Next, Renew Your Mind



July 2013