Crowded gyms, crowded banks, and crowded grocery stores are the norm each year in January as people try to commit to the same “new” New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, work out more, make better financial decisions, and eat better. Many people are dieting and many churches are fasting all at the same time. What exactly is fasting? Is it just a fad that churches do in January or is it just something we do for our health like dieting?
The simple definition of fasting is refraining from food and/or drink for a certain period of time. There are different types of fasts. There are complete fasts where you go completely without food and drink for a set time. There are also partial fasts where you only go without particular foods such as red meat and sweets. Fasts can also include refraining from other things in your life that you know can be distracting to you such as television, social media, and certain types of music. A fast is different from a diet. The purpose of a diet is to empty yourself of unhealthy foods and excess weight. Fasting empties yourself of yourself to be filled with God. You are emptied of distractions and fleshly hunger to deepen your hunger for God.
When you fast, the barriers between you and God are let down. You are drawn closer to Him. Many people think that fasting moves God to act on your behalf, but the truth is, fasting moves you. When that hunger for God gets intensified through fasting, you have a greater yearning to be in His presence. This is why fasting must always be accompanied with prayer. Your prayers become more concentrated and passionate. You are open to deliverance, breakthrough, and answered prayers. You seek after Him more and your ears are more alert and tuned to hear from Him. It’s like everything else is silenced so you can only hear His voice. Fasting is necessary in our spiritual walk because some things can only be released through prayer and fasting.
Moses fasted for 40 days before he wrote the Ten Commandments. Jesus fasted for 40 days before He began His ministry. Daniel fasted for three weeks when He had a vision and was seeking understanding for it. When we fast, we place ourselves in a position where we can receive from God. We fast to gain understanding, knowledge, wisdom, and direction. We fast to move closer to God. We increase in intimacy with Him as we know His heart more. We are more in tune with Him. A lot of times, we don’t realize how much everything distracts us and how much our hunger gets in the way of us hearing from God. Fasting allows us to declutter our brains and desires to give us clarity into the things that have been silenced by all the outside noise. It’s more than just refraining from what you want physically, but gaining what you need spiritually.