by Jay Dennis
If you truly desire to become the man God wants you to be, fasting should be among the spiritual disciplines you employ in connecting with God. Jesus assumed we would fast. He said; “When you fast,” not “If you fast.” (Matthew 6:16-18). If you have never tried fasting, you are missing out on one of God’s greatest blessings. Whether it is a relationship that is broken, a problem at work, financial pressures, or seeming impossibilities you are facing, fasting should be among the first responses a Christian man should employ. Fasting is a tangible way of demonstrating your seriousness about God’s will. Someone has said, “You can’t find a past great man of God who did not fast rather consistently”(preachology.com).
“Fasting in the biblical sense is choosing not to partake of food because your spiritual hunger is so deep, your determination in intercession so intense, or your spiritual warfare so demanding that you have temporarily set aside even fleshly needs to give yourself to prayer and meditation” (Wesley L. Duewel, Touch the World through Prayer).
Fasting can change your life, your circumstances, your impossible situations, and your times of don’t know-what-to-do. The spiritual discipline of fasting has transformed marriages, homes, workplaces, and churches. Revival often enters through the point of fasting. Jesus promises HIs blessing on fasting. Matthew 6:18 says, “So that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father Who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” There is great joy and peace that accompanies the experience of fasting. In my last fast, the Lord impressed me to fast for 10 days and I had about 15 items I was crying out to God about. I continue to receive answers to that fast, five months later. For me, I seldom get the answers to my fast during the fast, yet weeks and months later I continue to experience God’s blessings.
1. The WHAT of Fasting
Fasting is going without food (or something else if medically you can’t fast from food) for the purpose of seeking God and His will for your life and demonstrating your seriousness and passion in surrendering to God. Fasting is a way of saying “Yes” to God. There is never an occasion where Jesus eliminates this spiritual discipline. You need to determine the length of your fast. If you are just starting out with fasting you might want to take one meal or two, and then one day, two or more.
2. The WHY of Fasting
There are several reasons listed in Scripture as to why people fasted. Fasting is a tangible expression, a demonstrated purpose, an external sign of the desire of your heart. Consider these “Why’s” of Fasting:
(1) Fasting expresses Desperation—“God, I Need You.” – Daniel 9:3; Nehemiah 1:4
(2) Fasting Expresses Humility—“Lord, I am Available to You.” – Psalm 35:13
(3) Fasting Expresses a Desire for Wisdom—“Lord, I want Your Wisdom” – Ezra 8:21-23
(4) Fasting Expresses a Need for Direction when Making a Decision – Acts 13:2; 26
(5) Fasting Expresses your Seriousness about Your Commitment to Christ – II Corinthians 6:4-6
(6) Fasting Expresses a Cry for a Breakthrough – Isaiah 58:6
(7) Fasting Expresses a Desire for Healing. – Isaiah 58:8
(8) Fasting Expresses a Need for God’s Protector – Ezra 8:23
(10) Fasting Expresses a Desire to Place One’s Body under the Control of the Holy Spirit – I Corinthians 9:27
(11) Fasting Expresses Repentance and Deep Sorrow to God – Ezra 10:6-17
(12) Fasting Expresses Mourning or Grief – II Samuel 1:12
(13) Fasting Expresses an Awareness of a Temptation and the Commitment to Overcome it – Matthew 4:1-11
(14) Fasting Expresses Worship – Luke 2:37
(15) Fasting Expresses a Cry to God to Avert National Disaster – Joel 1:14
3. The WHEN of Fasting
When should a Christian man fast? Simply put, whenever the Holy Spirit leads you. Consider these issues as a call to fasting: broken relationship, a need for divine protection, facing an intense temptation, when you don’t know which direction to go, when you are involved in a conflict, and when spiritual warfare is more intense. Also, you should fast when an overwhelming need, that is a call to fast. You need to be certain you have a specific purpose for your fasting. That’s why I like to use a list of items for which I am fasting. Be sure to set aside specific time blocks for praying with your fasting. Adjust your physical demands accordingly and drink a lot of water. Expect some physical discomfort, but it seems to get less discomforting the longer you fast. Once you determine the length of your fast, prepare for spiritual warfare.
4. The HOW of Fasting
Without going into great detail; the Bible specifically mentions four different types of fasting. A regular fast (not eating food, but drinking water or juice Matthew 4:2); a partial fast (not eating certain foods such as a Daniel fast—Daniel 1:12; 10:3); an absolute fast (no food and water for a specific period of time—Acts 9:9; Esther 4:15-16); and a sexual fast (going without married sex for a limited time in order to seek God more intensely—I Corinthians 7:3-6). If you cannot fast food, then choose something such as social media, television, entertainment or even sleep. Fasting puts you in the very best position to hear from God. Keep a journal recording the insights and thoughts the Holy Spirit reveals to you.
As you fast, keep in mind you have made yourself available to Him and are seeking to specifically get His answer to whatever it is you are facing or battling. Begin your journey of fasting soon as you seek to be a better husband, better dad and a more godly and Christlike man.